Why Native Plants are a Better Choice

Native plants are better because they perform functions that create and complete a healthy ecosystem that non-native plants cannot.  Some of the benefits of Native Plants are:

  1. Native Plants protect the biodiversity of life upon which we all depend.
  2. Native Plants provide habitat for wildlife.
    • Habitat = homes, a place to rest, build a nest, lay low or high to ride out the severe weather
    • Habitat = places to find a mate, have a family and raise the next generation of their species
    • Habitat = food, directly through leaves, seeds, berries, bark and indirectly through other organisms (aka mostly insects), that thrive on native plants
  3. Native Plants provide food for wildlife.
    • "Wildlife" includes many of the native pollinators that, by the way,  provide food for you and me through their pollination services.  Native plants and native pollinators co-evolved together over the eons and serve each others needs.
    • Of course, native plants also provide food for the wildlife we all really enjoy seeing everyday:  birds, butterflies, etc.
    • Native plants support many of the insects that we may not pay as much attention to, but those insects are critically important to support the food web for those birds, butterflies, etc.
  4. Native Plants provide food for you and me.
    • Pecan pie anyone?  Or how about a dewberry cobbler?  How about some pasture raised eggs for breakfast...those eggs came from free range, pasture roaming chickens that ate...you guessed it, native plants, and probably some insects too.  Oh, those insects ate native plants too.
    • Think about it, everything you eat either is a plant, is something that came from a plant, or is something that ate a plant when you trace it to the origins of the interrelated food chain.  Through the developments of modern agriculture, we may not recognize the native plant origins of many of the foods we eat today.  Nevertheless, native plants are critical to support all forms of life, including you and me.
  5. Native plants filter the air from pollution.
    • Carbon dioxide in, oxygen out.
    • Ok, all plants do this, but think about it, if a native plant is thriving in its tough local environment / growing conditions, whereas a non-native plant is struggling to survive in those same conditions, then it makes sense that a healthy native plant is going to perform these services better.
  6. Native Plants are suited to their local community, which includes the local native soils.  We may curse the difficult (clay, sand, caliche) soil we garden in, but for each soil type, there are native plants that are suited exactly for that spot.  Why is this important?
    • Native plants' roots are adapted to their local environment conditions including the challenging native soils and help retain the soil from run off.  As native plants hold the soils in place during rains, they also help filter out pollution from the storm water runoff.
    • Native plants roots systems facilitate rain / surface water returning to the sub soils and, where present, to aquifers that store water underground.
    • Deep native plants' root systems allow heavy rainwater to be absorbed into soils rather than overflowing storm drainage systems, thereby providing flood mitigation services.
  7.  Native plants store carbon in their structures and roots and can increase carbon stored in soil.
    • Did you know that a native prairie's deep roots can grow down to 15 feet deep and sequester more carbon that some forests?
    • Carbon sequestration can be increased in soils to help reduce increased atmospheric carbon that contributes to climate change.  How do you take carbon out of the air and store it in the soil?  Native plants' leaves take in carbon dioxide through photosynthesis and carry it through the plant to its deep roots which emit excess carbon the plant did not use to the soil, where it feeds soil organisms that in turn help give soil its structure, water retention capabilities and fertility.
    • More Info
  8. Native plants reduce the heat sink effects of the major metropolitan areas where we live:  cities’ buildings and suburban sprawl of more buildings, roads & parking lots.
  9. Native plants = cleaner drinking water.
    • When native plants are correctly placed in their desired growing conditions that mimic their "native place", they require less supplemental water and no fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides, which means less surface runoff pollution for those people living downstream from us.  If we can convince the communities that are upstream from us to use more native plants, that means less runoff pollution in the drinking water you and I rely on.
    • You've heard the catch phrase "We need to drain the swamp!", right?  Well, in reality, that swamp is probably a wetland, a low spot meant to hold water (seasonally or year round) and includes native plants that want to grow in wet or damp soils.  These critically endangered native plants provide necessary services of literally cleaning the pollution that drains into wetland waterways.
    • Learn how humans are mimicking Mother Nature's natural wetlands that include native plants to provide clean drinking water for North Texas citizens.

Comments are closed.