Desert Plant Deemed Endangered
A Southwestern shrub is now protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The Gierish mallow, found only in Arizona and Utah, is now protected under the federal Endangered Species Act. It's estimated that only 18 groups of mallows remain in the Southwest. (Photo courtesy of Lee Hughes-Bureau of Land Management)
The Gierish mallow is only found in Arizona and Utah. The “mallow,” as it is sometimes called, can grow up to 3.5 feet tall with delicate, orange blossoms. It thrives in gypsum-rich soil, and that is the problem. Gypsum mining has eroded its habit.
Jeff Humprey with U.S. Fish and Wildlife said the plant is the 59th protected species in Arizona. He added that endangered plants do not get the fanfare of endangered animals, which he calls more “charismatic.” Still, he said all endangered species are treated equally under the law.
“There’s an inherent value to an organism, whether it’s charismatic or not,” Humprey stressed, “and it’s recognized in the Endangered Species Act that we are not to make that distinction. These all and each should receive protection when it’s merited.”
More than 12,000 acres of public land have been deemed critical habitat for the Gierish mallow, so federal agencies must consult with Fish and Wildlife before permitting any activities on that land that could harm the plant’s viability.