Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on April 10, 2008
Franz Heigl painted them. So did Claude Monet. Vincent Van Gogh immortalized them forever, while H. Vogel penned a mathematical model for the pattern of their florets.
In case you haven’t guessed, I’m writing about sunflowers. They were given their name because they display heliotropism (or an orientating response to the sun) at bud stage. The heads literally follow the sun from east to west. But did you know that some species of sunflower are endangered?
Talking about the endangered “showy” Pecos sunflower which, after nine years on the list, has finally been given the critical habitat it desperately needs. Listed as threatened and protected under the Endangered Species Act back in 1999, it took until 2005 for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a recovery plan for the plant. In 2008, the Pecos was finally given 1,305 acres of critical habitat in its native New Mexico and West Texas. The Pecos is “known to survive in fewer than two dozen locations in the very limited habitat of the desert wetlands of New Mexico and West Texas on federal, state and private land.”
What could it mean for private landowners who may be lucky enough to have the Pecos growing in their backyard? The Fish and Wildlife Services say the designation will not affect the ownership of land and “does not establish a refuge or preserve.” However, “landowners can participate in a variety of informal and formal stewardship agreements that will promote conservation of this plant species on their land,” said the agency’s Southwest regional director, Benjamin Tuggle.
And let’s face it, a steward of the Pecos sunflower would make a handsome addition to anyone’s resume.