Here is a press release that gives you an over view of what plants are endangered, and how they are given that categorization by the federal government to help protect and restore them
U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service
911 N.E 11th Avenue
Portland, OREGON 97232-4181
Three plants found on the Channel Islands, two of which are already protected by the state of California, have been added to the Federal endangered species list, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.
The Catalina Island mountain-mahogany, San Clemente Island woodland-star, and Santa Crux Island rockcress are found primarily in coastal scrub and rock habitat on San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands in southern California's Channel Islands.
All three plants have been listed as endangered. Catalina Island mountain-mahogany is considered one of California's rarest trees; only six mature trees remain.
San Clemente Island woodland-star, a perennial herb in the saxifrage family, was thought to be extinct until 1979, when it was discovered in two canyons on the island. Approximately 200 plants were located during field surveys in 1996.
Scientists believe Santa Cruz Island rockcress, an annual herb in the mustard family, once was common and wide-ranging. It was last seen on Santa Cruz Island in 1936 and it has not been seen an Santa Catalina Island since 1973. The species was thought to be extinct until it was discovered on San Clemente island in 1986. Less than 40 plants were located on San Clemente Island during 1996 field surveys.
Catalina Island mountain-mahogany and San Clemente Island woodland-star have already been designated as endangered by the State of California.
All three plant species are threatened by grazing by non- native animals, competition from non-native plants, soil erosion, and military training activities.
The Endangered Species Act directs Federal agencies to protect and promote the recovery of listed species. Collection of listed plants on Federal lands is prohibited. Proposed Federal projects and actions, including activities on private or non-Federal lands that involve Federal funding or permitting, require review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure they will not jeopardize the survival of any listed species, including plants. The Endangered Species Act does not prohibit "take" of listed plants on private lands, but landowners should be aware of state laws protecting imperiled plants. The Endangered Species Act does not provide any greater protection to listed plants on private lands than they already receive under state law. The Catalina Island mountain-mahogany and the San Clemente Island woodland-star are listed as endangered by the state of California.
Native plants are important for their ecological, economic, and aesthetic values. Plants play an important role in development of crops that resist disease, insects, and drought. At least 25 percent of prescription drugs contain ingredients derived from plant compounds, including treatments for cancer, juvenile leukemia, heart disease, and malaria, and medicines to assist in organ transplants. Plants are also being used to develop natural pesticides.