Rare Plant Proposed for Protection Under the Endangered Species Act
Gierisch Mallow Threatened by Gypsum Mining
Phoenix, AZ – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
will propose to list the Gierisch mallow (also known
as Gierisch’s globemallow) as “endangered” throughout its range in Mohave
County, Arizona, and Washington County, Utah. FWS will also propose to designate approximately 12,822
acres (ac) in Arizona and Utah as critical habitat.
mallow was first described in 2002. This narrowly endemic wildflower grows on
gypsum outcrops in arid Mohave desertscrub communities. The tall, wispy plant
with orange flowers appears to be a perennial that sprouts annually from a
woody stalk each spring. Only 18 populations are known to exist, 17 on federal
land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and one on Arizona state
be heartbreaking to lose a species that was so recently discovered,” said
Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “This plant
is a reminder that in the current extinction crisis, we may be losing species
before we even knew they existed. Listing the Gierisch mallow under the ESA is
the only way to ensure protection for this rare wildflower.”
species is highly imperiled as most of its range is being actively mined for
gypsum. Gypsum is used to manufacture sheetrock, which is used in home
construction. Gypsum mining in Arizona threatens the two largest populations of
Gierisch mallow, representing up to 50 percent of the species’ total numbers.
Gypsum mining eliminates mallow habitat and creates piles of tailings that may
be dumped on plants. It is unknown if Gierisch mallow will readily grow on
reclaimed mining sites. WildEarth Guardians petitioned for the plant’s federal
protection in June 2007, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated
Gierisch mallow as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) in 2008.
gypsum mining is the major threat to Gierisch mallow, the beleaguered plant
must also contend with other factors. Unauthorized off-road vehicle use,
illegal dumping and impacts associated with illegal target shooting are degrading
habitat, as are invasive plant species such as red brome and cheatgrass.
Livestock will also eat or trample the mallow.