Why Native Plants?

Why Native Plants?

Look closely. Life is about interconnections. A Virginia Creeper climbs a tree. A caterpillar emerges and munches on the vine’s leaves. Just in time to nourish hungry bird hatchlings.

As temperatures drop, Virginia Creeper’s berries ripen to a deep purple. More food for birds. With the first frost, the vine dies back and the tree survives.

Come Spring, birds will use the spent vines to build their nests.

Every season reveals deeply evolved connections between native plants and animals.

Invasive English Ivy on left. Virginia Creeper on right.

Why native plants?

Insects depend on native plants for food.

This goes far beyond nectar for bees and butterflies. All parts of a plant are potential food: leaves, roots, sap, seed and fruit.

Most insects lay their eggs on specific hosts plants that will feed their young.

At the same time, plants depend on insects for pollination.

New Jersey’s mix of native plants and insects have been evolutionary partners since at least the last Ice Age, 10,000 years ago.

[Source: https://www.state.nj.us/pinelands/infor/fact/Native_Landscaping_brochure.pdf ]

In turn, birds and other wildlife depend on both plants and insects for their survival.

Native plants are at the center of a healthy ecosystem.

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