ALBUQUERQUE (CN) – The federal government provided bogus reasons for refusing to list the many-flowered unicorn plant as a threatened or endangered species, the WildEarth Guardians claim in Federal Court. The plant has been collected only four times in history and has not been seen since 1967, the group says.
The many-flowered unicorn plant, covered with sticky hairs and crowned with multiple blooms on a single stalk, grows, or grew, in dry alluvial sand along the Rio Grande in west Texas and northeastern Mexico.
WildEarth Guardians, created by the merger of three environmental groups in 2008, filed its first petition for listing of the plant in 2007.
It provided information on the species from the NatureServe database, which stated that the plant had been collected only four times and had not been seen since 1967.
After filing an emergency petition that included other species in 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service denied the petition on the incorrect basis that the population was not quantified, WildEarth Guardians says.
But it has been quantified, as it has been collected only four times, the group says.
Species in a similar situation, such as the Tehachapi salamander, were found warranted for listing due to their low numbers, the group says.
WildEarth Guardians, represented by Melissa Hailey in Denver, seeks withdrawal of the 90-day finding on the plant.
The many-flowered unicorn plant’s seed pods dry into a woody “devil’s claw” which spreads its seeds by hooking onto animals. WildEarth Guardians says that the plant is threatened by increasingly long droughts caused by climate change.