Native plant

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Wild Perennial Lupin (Lupinus perennis)

Native plant is a term to describe plants endemic (indigenous) or naturalized to a given area in geologic time.

This includes plants that have developed, occur naturally, or existed for many years in an area (e.g. trees, flowers, grasses, and other plants). In North America a plant is often deemed native if it was present before colonization.

Some native plants have adapted to very limited, unusual environments or very harsh climates or exceptional soil conditions. Although some types of plants for these reasons exist only within a very limited range (endemism), others can live in diverse areas or by adaptation to different surroundings.

Research has found that insects depend on native plants.[1]

Environmental conditions[edit]

An ecosystem consists of interactions of plants, animals, and microorganisms with their physical (e.g., soil conditions and processes) and climatic conditions.

Native plants form a part of a cooperative environment, or plant community, where several species or environments have developed to support them. This could be a case where a plant exists because a certain animal pollinates the plant and that animal exists because it relies on the pollen as a source of food. Some native plants rely on natural conditions, such as occasional wildfires, to release their seeds or to provide a fertile environment where their seedlings can become established.

Invasive and native plants[edit]

Human intervention[edit]

As societies move plants to new locations for cultivation as crops or ornamentals (or transport them by accident), some of them may become invasive species, damaging native plant communities. Besides ecological damage, these species can also damage agriculture, infrastructure, and cultural assets. Government agencies and environmental groups are directing increasing resources to addressing these species and their potential interactions with climate change. Non-native species can have profound effects on ecosystems by changing ecosystem structure, function, species abundance, and community composition.[2]

When restoration projects are undertaken to restore a native ecological system disturbed by economic development or other events, they often are historically inaccurate and incomplete, and pay little or no attention to ecotype accuracy or type conversions. They fail to restore the original ecological system, overlooking the basics of remediation: attention paid to the historical distribution of native species is a crucial first step to ensure the ecological integrity of the project.[3] To prevent erosion of the recontoured sand dunes at the western edge of the Los Angeles International Airport in 1975, landscapers stabilized the backdunes with a “natural” seed mix (Mattoni 1989a). Unfortunately, the seed mix was representative of coastal sage scrub, an exogenous plant community, instead of the native dune scrub community. As a result, the El Segundo blue butterfly (Euphilotes battoides allyni) became an endangered species. The El Segundo Blue butterfly population, which had once extended over 3200 acres along the coastal dunes from to Ocean Park to Malaga cove in Palos Verdes,[4] began to recover when the invasive California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) was uprooted so that the butterflies' original native plant host, the dune buckwheat (Eriogonum parvifolium), could regain some of its lost habitat.[5]

The rich diversity of unique species across many parts of the world exists only because bioregions are separated by barriers, particularly large rivers, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts.

Humans, migratory birds, ocean currents, etc. can introduce species that have never met in their evolutionary history, on varying time scales ranging from days to decades (Long, 1981; Vermeij, 1991). Humans are moving species across the globe at an unprecedented rate. Those working to address invasive species view this as an increased risk to indigenous species.

Native plant movement[edit]

Native plant proponents, such as Sara Stein,[6] and native plant organizations, such as Wild Ones, the Native Plant Society of Oregon, the New England Wildflower Society, the North American Native Plant Society,[7] the California Native Plant Society,[8] and Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center [9] also encourage gardeners to use earth-friendly gardening practices, especially in public spaces. The identification of local plant communities provides a basis for their work.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]