Watch Your Step! Rare Flower in Missoula Needs Your Protection
Missoula Parks and Recreation is asking Missoulians to keep an eye out for a rare flower while recreating in Missoula's North Hills.
Did You Know There's a Flower Named After Missoula?
The Phlox missoulensis or Missoula Phlox is a "cushion plant" that can be found on Waterworks Ridge and the Bluebird Preserve here in Missoula and is considered endemic to Montana. These are both areas where a lot of people hike and walk their dogs. That's why Missoula Parks and Recreation posted the following message on the Facebook Page:
See the post on Facebook here.
As they mentioned, Missoula Phlox is currently blooming and will continue to bloom through June, according to the Montana Field Guide. The Guide also points out that the Missoula Phlox is a pollinator for nine different animal species. It's clearly important to the local ecosystem as it is a native plant, but it has also been listed as a 'Species of Concern.'
What Does "Species of Concern" Mean?
Here's the exact definition from the Montana Field Guide:
Species of Concern are native taxa that are at-risk due to declining population trends, threats to their habitats, restricted distribution, and/or other factors. Designation as a Montana Species of Concern or Potential Species of Concern is based on the Montana Status Rank, and is not a statutory or regulatory classification. Rather, these designations provide information that helps resource managers make proactive decisions regarding species conservation and data collection priorities. -Fieldguidemt.gov
Does that mean the plant is endangered? No. The NatureServe Explorer website provides information about endangered species and has listed the Missoula Phlox listed as "Vulnerable." But given how unique the species is and its importance to the local ecosystem, it's worth heeding their warnings.
Please be on the lookout for the Missoula Phlox and follow the temporary dog leash requirement.