Department of Environmental Conservation

D E C banner

Federally Protected Plants

Of the many rare plant species that are native to New York State, six are listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. These plants are an important piece of New York's natural heritage and biodiversity. They are given legal protection in order to ensure the continued survival of the species. Species recovery work is performed by NYS-DEC with funding from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS).

If you encounter one of these plants in the wild, leave it undisturbed. Taking away only a memory or a photograph protects the species for future generations, and protects you from prosecution!

The following plants are Federally listed as threatened or endangered species found in New York State. Click on the species name to see the USFWS species profile:

Northern wild monk's-hood (Aconitum noveboracense)
Federal Status: Threatened
Northern wild monkshood is an herbaceous perennial with blue, hood-shaped flowers which are distinctive. The plants range from one to four feet in height, with wide, toothed leaves. They prefer to occupy cool sites such as stream sides or shaded cliff sides. Flowers typically bloom between June and September. Degradation and loss of habitat are the primary threats to species survival. Collection by humans has also been problematic in some areas.

Sandplain gerardia (Agalinis acuta)
Federal Status: Endangered
The only Federally Endangered plant species in New York State, sandplain gerardia is a small annual plant with delicate pink blossoms. Six of the twelve known natural populations in the world can be found in coastal grassland areas on Long Island. Loss of habitat to development, and encroachment by invasive exotic competitors are the main reasons why this plant is considered to be in imminent danger of extirpation.

Seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus)
Federal Status: Threatened
Seabeach amaranth is an annual plant with reddish stems and small, rounded leaves. For years it was thought to be extirpated from New York State, until it was found again in 1990. It is found along sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast, where it grows on the shifting sands between dunes and the high tide mark. Construction of beach stabilization structures that stop the natural movement of sand has degraded much seabeach amaranth habitat. The plants grow close to the surface and can range in size from less than an inch to more than a foot across. Flowering and seed production usually start in July and continue until the plants die in the fall.

Hart's-tongue fern (Asplenium scolopendrium var. americanum)
Federal Status: Threatened
American hart's tongue fern, a member of the spleenwort genus, has large lanceolate to strap-shaped fronds. Over 90% of the U.S. population of this fern is found in Central New York, where it requires moist, sheltered locations and lime-rich soils. Drought and loss of habitat are two of the most important threats to the species.

Leedy's roseroot (Sedum integrifolium ssp. leedyi)
Federal Status: Threatened
Leedy's roseroot is a perennial with waxy, succulent leaves. The flowers are small and densely arranged, with four or five petals, and vary in color from dark red to orange or yellow. It grows on a few cliffs only in New York and Minnesota. This sub-species has probably always been rare, because of its very specific habitat requirements. Because of the small number of places where it occurs, however, it is highly vulnerable to disturbance at those sites that might degrade the habitat.

Houghton's goldenrod (Solidago houghtonii)
Federal Status: Threatened
Houghton's goldenrod grows only in the wetlands along the Great Lakes shoreline. It is a perennial with an upright stem and many yellow flower heads, which are arranged in somewhat flat-topped clusters. The leaves are narrow and grouped toward the base of the plant. Loss and degradation of habitat due to development is the primary threat to species survival. There are many other goldenrods found in New York, some of which are similar-looking. One way to differentiate Houghton's goldenrod is by confirming the presence of tiny hairs on the flower stalks within the flower cluster.