Rare Wildflower That Grows Only In Death Valley Is No Longer Endangered
The Eureka Valley evening primrose is delicate—not the type of thing you expect to find in one of the hottest, driest places on earth. But this flower grows only in a remote part of Death Valley National Park in California. After coming close to disappearing from the desert for good, the U.S. Department of the Interior reports that the rare plant species has been saved from extinction.
The Eureka Valley evening primrose blooms after the sun sets and air temperatures drop. In their habitat of sand dunes, they grow up to 2.5 feet tall and provide nectar to insects like butterflies, bees, and moths.
The flower has adapted to the harsh desert climate, but it faced a different kind of threat when Death Valley began attracting tourists in the 20th century. Off-road vehicles rolling through the dunes were crushing the flowers, and the population landed on the endangered species list in 1978.
Today, the valley where the flowers grow no longer looks like it did in the 1970s. It's now an official wilderness area, which means that recreation is heavily restricted under the Wilderness Act. The park also strives to educate visitors to the valley. Campers now know to avoid vulnerable plant life by pitching their tents away from the bases of dunes, and motorists are asked to stick to the designated roadways.
Thanks to these recent efforts, the Eureka Valley evening primrose is abundant enough that it no longer needs to be a protected species. According to an Interior Department press release, "Death Valley still might conjure up images of a desolate and dry place, [but] it's reassuring to know that among the desert sand is a beautiful flower that continues to bloom."