A plant is a native, a native-to-somewhere-else, a “nativar,” or a cultivar. This post is the first in a 3 part series on these different types of plants.
Today we’ll start with natives. A plant is considered native to a certain PLACE/HABITAT. For instance, a cactus may be a native plant in Arizona, but in Pennsylvania, it’s a non-native (also sometimes called an exoctic or an alien). Timing is also important – a plant is native (in the Americas) only if it was indigenous to the area BEFORE those pesky Eupopean settlers showed up. Pre-Columbian. Native plants have evolved in the conditions of their own habitat amongst the other plants and wildlife of the same place. This makes them generally easier to grow than non-natives. Sometimes a native plant may be the ONLY food source for a native insect or animal. .
Plenty of plants have managed to escape cultivation and quickly populate massive areas, but that doesn’t make them a native no longer how long ago it happened. It makes them an invasive. Case in point: Dandelions. Brought here as European salad greens. Can be found all over North America. See also: Queen Ann’s Lace. Surprised? .
Have you intentionally planted natives before?