Protecting this tiny Texas plant could complicate wind power plans

By Michael Doyle | 03/18/2024 01:38 PM EDT

Meet the bushy whitlow-wort, the latest species threatened by efforts to expand clean energy.


A whitlow-wort plant is pictured in Austin, Texas. Joseph A. Marcus/Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center/Wildflower Center Digital Library

The escalating conflict between producing clean energy and protecting vulnerable species has a new case study: a modest Texas plant called the bushy whitlow-wort.

After years cycling on and off the Endangered Species Act waiting list, the perennial herbaceous plant was proposed by the Fish and Wildlife Service for federal protections Monday. The plant is scarce in its small and breezy swath of Jim Hogg County, but its primary nemesis is well-known.

“The development of new wind farms and the concomitant land disturbance is an immediate threat to the known populations of bushy whitlow-wort, and a single development project could easily destroy a large portion of the species’ known resources,” the Fish and Wildlife Service noted.


Along with the proposed listing as endangered, the Fish and Wildlife Service proposes designating 41.9 acres of private property as critical habitat.