What's That Mean? - Native Plant

October 11, 2017

By: Barb Holtz

Virtually every educational presentation I do includes a vocabulary slide. Even the seasoned natural landscaper needs reminding of terms now and again even if it is to learn how to share said terms with others. After all, native plant people are the best advocates for native habitats and yards.

Throughout websites, pamphlets, garden catalogs, displays and educational talks we read and hear these three terms: native, naturalized and non-native invasive. From the get go, these should be understood not only at face-value but for their earth-value.

Get a bunch of botanists in a room and ask for the defiinition of a native plant, make sure you bring a comfortable chair and snacks. You're going to be there a while. Good news? There has been consensus for us everyday folks. A native plant is a plant present prior to European settlement (1700's), based on our knowledge to date.

How do we know such a thing? From writings, stories and herbarium collections by forward thinking settlers. From Native American knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Herbals and drawings. There was a time when plants were employed for survival as medicines and sustenance. You knew your leafy neighbors and honored their presence in your life.

Native plants served and serve civilizations AND wildlife. A connection cherished and understood to be essential, not debated. Native creatures and plants evolved and adapted together over eons to get the most from one another. The best nourishment for the animal and reliable reproduction for the flower. Native plants are a pollinator's ethnic cuisine, food of origin. Native plants feed native wildlife better. Period. Better nutrition, long-time familiarity with plant morphology and response to seasonal change are deeply-rooted in the native to native relationship.

Our world moves everyday toward a global flora and there is no turning back. Let's not dwell on the impossible but on the hope. Native wildlife requires native flora as much today as they did then. We are still part of nature's grand plan, a well-oiled machine that works to heal from our impatience. Plant natives when and where you can to support native wildlife health and success, and to honor this place. Mother Nature knows best.

Coming Soon....What's That Mean - Naturalized Plant