Get to know an endangered plant – Swamp Pink

swamp pink (helonias bullata)

Listing Status:  Threatened (Nationally; and in Georgia and North Carolina) Endangered (Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia)

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Swamp Pink (Helonias bullata), characterized by a bright pink flower cluster that blooms in early spring, is one of the most unique and beautiful wildflowers in the Eastern United States. Swamp Pink is in the lily family, although there are no other lilies quite like it. The plant’s closest relatives include a species in Japan (Heloniopsis orientalis) and the bog asphodel (Narthecium americanum), another rare plant found in New Jersey. It’s usually is one of the first wildflowers to bloom in the spring, blooming from March to May. The stalk is topped by a 1 to 3-inch-long cluster of 30 to 50 small, fragrant, pink flowers dotted with pale blue anthers. This splendid and fragrant flower blooms on stocks that can grow over 3 feet tall.  The evergreen leaves of swamp pink can be seen year round.

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Swamp Pink occurs in a variety of wetland habitats. Swampy forested wetlands which border small streams; meadows, and spring seepage areas. The plant requires habitat which is saturated, but not flooded, with water. This species historically ranged from New York State to the southern Appalachian Mountains. The largest populations of this captivating plant are found in New Jersey (70 percent) but the species is also locally abundant at other sites in the Mid-Atlantic region. They can be found as far south as Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Delaware, Maryland all the way to Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

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the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to designate Swamp Pink as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act in September 1988. A species designated as threatened is likely to be in danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.” Unfortunately this species has suffered from habitat destruction that has eradicated it from many Mid-Atlantic states and continues to suffer from similar threats. Even when the land where a population is present is protected from development, the runoff caused by development on neighboring lands poses a severe threat to this species continued existence.

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Individual landowners with suitable habitat can contact the National Wild Life Service for proactive conservation recommendations. If a landowner enters into a voluntary conservation agreement, the Service will provide ongoing technical assistance and recognize the commitment to natural resource stewardship with a plaque. Most land in New Jersey is privately owned. Voluntary conservation efforts by New Jersey’s residents are critical in the conservation and recovery of every threatened and endangered species.

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If you do spot one please note were it is (your phones GPS can really come in handy for this) and tell theU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as soon as you can.

Find out more where I did. . . 

centerforplantconservation.org

plants.usda.gov

eol.org

fws.gov

cumauriceriver.org

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