Native Plants Can Simplify Yard Work
Byline: Denise Corkery Chicago Botanic Garden
Just because a plant has been growing here for as long as anyone can remember doesn't mean it's a native species.
Native plants are those found naturally in a specific region that began growing there without being introduced directly or indirectly by humans. A region can be as small as a locality, or as large as several states.
The closer plants are to the habitat they originally grew in - usually before settlers arrived - the more adapted they are to growing in conditions where you live.
Native plants are essential to the intricate web of life that includes birds, animals and beneficial insects, and important organisms living in native soils. This natural community evolved together over a long period of time, and each member depends on this ecosystem to provide it both with habitat in which to live, and food or nutrients to survive.
Invasive species, often non-native plants that are not a natural part of this community, can severely disrupt and often overwhelm an ecosystem's delicate balance of life.
Without natural checks and balances, they can grow so rampantly they choke out native plants. The unfortunate result is less biodiversity, and an ecosystem in need of restoration.
Development also has had a negative impact on ecosystems, causing native habitats to become fragmented, making it harder for birds to migrate, bees to pollinate and wildlife to survive.
Growing awareness of changes in the environment has many home gardeners reconsidering the benefits of landscaping with native plants. …