Conserving the Nature of America
Bulletin
Chihuahua Scurfpea, Desert Southwest Plant, Not in Danger of Extinction
More than 5,000 plants now known to exist in Arizona and New Mexico

April 3, 2019

Contact(s):

Lesli Gray, (972) 439-4542,  lesli_gray@fws.gov


Chihuahua scurfpea. Credit: © Phil Tonne, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico.

Chihuahua scurfpea. Credit: © Phil Tonne, Museum of Southwestern Biology, University of New Mexico.

Following a rigorous examination of the best scientific and commercial information available, including a recently completed species status assessment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the Chihuahua scurfpea, a perennial herb in the legume family, is not in danger of extinction now or within the foreseeable future and does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Today’s finding is possible in part due to conservation partnerships, particularly with the Bureau of Land Management and Natural Heritage New Mexico. Efforts by these partners resulted in the discovery of additional populations of the Chihuahua scurfpea in New Mexico and Arizona.

When FWS was petitioned to list the Chihuahua scurfpea in 2008, only one population of 300 plants was known to occur, in the Hachita Valley in southwestern New Mexico. Since that time, the partners have conducted surveys in other areas of the state and in Arizona and have discovered additional populations. Currently, more than 5,000 individual plants are known from four different areas in Arizona and New Mexico.

FWS has determined that the primary potential threats for the Chihuahua scurfpea – which include herbicide used for grassland restoration, decreased precipitation resulting from climate change, and surface disturbance – are not likely to have significant population-level impacts and are not expected to increase in the foreseeable future.

Although the precise outcomes of climate change are uncertain, the species is resilient to drought. For much of the year the Chihuahua scurfpea exists below ground as a dormant tuber-like taproot, which helps foster a degree of drought tolerance. Once emerged above ground, small hairs on the surface of the foliage also contribute to its drought tolerance.

Additional information on the Chihuahua scurfpea and the finding is available at the Service’s New Mexico Ecological Services Field Office website: https://www.fws.gov/southwest/es/NewMexico/.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page. http://www.fws.gov/southwest/


The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.

For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov/. Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel and download photos from our Flickr page.