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Botany and Endangered Plants Program

New Mexico is one of the most biologically diverse states in the U.S., ranking fourth in highest plant diversity (California being first). Over 4,200 plant species have been documented; 235 of which are rare or endangered plant species and over 110 are endemic, meaning they occur nowhere else in the world.

There are eight distinct Ecoregions in New Mexico that promote such a diverse flora. While many plant  species are adapted to the hot, dry conditions of the Chihuahuan desert, others can be found growing only on the alpine peaks of the Southern Rockies. Additionally, a small subset of species can be found growing only within wetland or riparian communities that have limited distribution, thus both plants and their habitat are rare. One such example is the unique ciénega; an increasingly rare wetland community of the southwest. Many of these wetlands have been impacted by humans or are in decline as a result of decreasing water tables and other stressors.

The Forestry Division’s Endangered Plant Program has statutory responsibility for the State Endangered Plant Species List. Section 75-6-1 NMSA 1978 directs the Division to establish a program to promote conservation of state endangered plant species; conduct research, inventory, monitoring, and educational activities; ensure habitat for rare species; and investigate all plant species in the state for the purpose of establishing a list of endangered plant species. Botany staff work on a diverse array of conservation projects, including collaborative research and monitoring to inform management; collecting information on population abundance, distribution, habitat requirements, threats, limiting factors, and other biological and ecological data to determine the status of an endangered species to develop conservation measures necessary for species’ survival. The Endangered Plant Program is primarily federally funded through Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act for endangered plant research and management. Other federal grants help provide supplementary funding for additional work on rare species.

Current and past project funding includes:

  • Status surveys and reports on sensitive, proposed, candidate and listed species
  • Writing recovery plans
  • Writing 5-year reviews
  • Collaborating on development of rare plant habitat suitability models (HSM)
  • Coordinating and carrying-out recovery actions
  • Long term population trend monitoring of endangered plants
  • Resolving taxonomic questions
  • Researching habitat requirements and population demographics
  • Rare plant surveys and inventories
  • Educational projects

New Mexico Rare Plant Conservation Strategy

The New Mexico Rare Plant Conservation Strategy is an integral part of the State of New Mexico’s Endangered Plant Program, the only program within the state government that focuses on rare plant conservation and operates statewide.

The Strategy is focused on 235 rare and endangered plant species in New Mexico, including 109 species that only occur in New Mexico. The overall goal of the New Mexico Rare Plant Conservation Strategy is to protect and conserve New Mexico’s rare and endangered plant species and their habitats through collaborative partnerships between stakeholders and interested parties to aid and improve the conservation and management of rare plant species and to avoid federal listing.

Useful Links for Native Plant Information:


Center for Plant Conservation


New Mexico Plant Communities

Department of Game and Fish; State Wildlife Action Plan


Bureau of Land Management - Native Plants Program, New Mexico


Environmental Review Tool

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish


NatureServe Explorer


Navajo Natural Heritage Program


New Mexico Natural Heritage Program


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; New Mexico Ecological Field Office

Threatened and Endangered Species


New Mexico Native Plant Society


New Mexico Rare Plants

Natural Heritage New Mexico Rare Plants website and list


NM Rare Plant Conservation Strategy's Rare Plants List

Natural Heritage New Mexico Rare Plants website


New Mexico State University Herbarium


Southwest Environmental Information Network (SEINet)


University of New Mexico Herbarium; Museum of Southwestern Biology


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Endangered Species Program

Bright pink flower hanging downward

Holy Ghost ipomopsis (Ipomopsis sancti-spiritus)

Cacti with pale yellow blooms on dry ground

Mesa Verde cactus (Sclerocactus mesae-verdae)

Ball-shaped cactus with pale pink blossoms

Sneed’s pincushion cactus (Escobaria sneedii var. sneedii)

Bright golden blooms

Golden Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens)