There are many people talking nowadays about native plants versus non-native (and sometimes invasive) plants. Some people even are trading their standard grass yards for a habitat of native plants in order to protect and promote the local ecosystem. But what is the value of native plants? Should you really go out of your way to choose native trees? In short, yes you should.
What Is A Native Plant?
Native plants are those that grow naturally in an environment. These plants have evolved to thrive in the area and provide beneficial food and habitat for local animals and insects. In contrast, non-native or alien species (sometimes called invasive if they’re aggressive) are plants that naturally grow in other areas, but people choose to plant in their local environment. These plants are generally not as good for insects and animals as the native species.
Why Are They Important?
Native plants are an essential part of the ecosystem. Since they grow naturally, they thrive with little human intervention, and they provide food and habitat to native animals and insects. Native plants are also beautiful additions to any landscaping, and they don’t require a ton of maintenance if they need any at all. Since they’re low maintenance, they don’t require any chemical fertilizers, which could be bad for both people and beneficial insects and animals. Native plants also are better for the environment, since there’s no carbon footprint associated with their maintenance and because you don’t need to mow or water them (unless there’s not enough rain).
What Trees Are Native Here?
Some great varieties of tree are native to the Chesapeake region. The American wild plum has pretty white flowers and produces an edible fruit (which is a nice bonus). The cockspur hawthorn is another native plant with white flowers and an edible fruit. The downy serviceberry produces an edible fruit as well, and it provides habitat for 35 species of birds. Finally, the red chokeberry produces a bitter fruit that is best used in jams or jellies or even wines, but it also provides habitat for birds and small mammals.
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