Prostrate milkweed, a rare plant native to Texas and Northeastern Mexico, is an important support system for bees and monarch butterflies. But now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering naming the plant an endangered species as humans destroy their critical habitats.
USFWS botanist in Texas, Chris Best, said that the prostrate milkweed flowers “attract and support native pollinators,” including large bees and wasps and that it serves as a host plant for monarch butterflies.
“Unfortunately, this species is negatively impacted by competition from introduced buffelgrass and increased development in its native Tamaulipan shrubland habitat,” Best told CBS News.
To help conserve the plant, the service has proposed nearly 700 acres of critical habitats in eight occupied areas in Starr and Zapata counties near the Rio Grande.
Milkweeds are a vital host plant for monarch butterflies, feeding monarch larva as they develop into butterflies. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, they also provide large quantities of nectar to bees and tarantula hawks.