NY's Missing Species

By Matthew C. Pace

May 7 2019

When you think of a rare, endangered species, you may think of far-off rainforests in South America or Borneo. However, rare species occur across the globe; even here in New York state plants are under threat. In some cases, these species have become extirpated from New York state, meaning they are regionally extinct: they may be found in other states, but are now lost from New York.

Plants can become extripated from a state for a variety of reasons, including habiat destruction, loss of pollinators, poaching, and/or changes in local climate and grazing habits. Recently, the explosion of the deer population in New York state has caused a massive decrease in forest wildflower abundance as the deer, free of predators, essentially eat the forest to death.

Here are some examples of species that have been extirpated, or nearly so, from the flora of New York state.


McDonough MacKenzie, C. 2019. Floristic change in New England and New York: Regional patterns of plant species loss and decline. Rhodora, 121: https://doi.org/10.3119/18-04

Weldy, T., D. Werier, and A. Nelson. 2019 New York Flora Atlas. [S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (original application development), USF Water Institute. University of South Florida]. New York Flora Association, Albany, New York. http://www.newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu/

Werier, D. 2017. Catalogue of the vascular plants of New York State. Memoirs of the Torrey Botanical Society, 27: 1-542.

Young, S. 2017. New York Rare Plant Status Lists. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY. November 2017. 103 pp. https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/2017rareplantlists.pdf