What is a Native Plant and why does it Matter? Well…. Do you eat? Do you breathe? Do you live on this planet or not? Are you the only one living? How do you know? Where is the line or boundary that separates this thing from that thing? Me from not me? If millions of organisms (bacteria, insects, and species) we know as “other things” exist and we can see “their” existence, then what is it exactly that separates or creates a sense of separation from “that thing” and “us”?

Native Plants are some of “those things” that exist rather we know it or not. Knowing it, however, is important in helping to realize a larger sense of being within our lives and realities. Native Plants can be viewed much similarly to the original Native Americans that were here naturally before many other cultures interfered. There are Native Plants that are Florida Native and North America Native, State, or Bio-Region Native as well. Non-Native plants, however, can similarly grow in areas they were not originally from much like these mixed cultures of people now all living together in the United States. Knowing this difference between Native and non-Native plants in and around our landscapes can actually make a huge impact on us all!

For the same reason that you won’t see a polar bear roaming the streets of Tampa Florida. Similarly, you will not see live oak trees growing in Alaska! This being said, there are plenty of non-native plants that will grow in this area and our landscapes. This does NOT make it ok to do so and many of these non-Native plants are damaging and harmful to our environments and or livelihoods! Planting “invasive, non-Native” plants in your landscape, is like taking a loaded gun and shooting yourself in the foot to slowly bleed out and suffer along the way. However extreme this comparison may seem, it makes a sharp point as to how harmful some of our decision-making to “other things” and “us” really is! Important note; not all non-Native plants are “invasive”. For more information on non-Native and invasive plants visit: “https://www.fdacs.gov/Forest-Wildfire/Our-Forests/Forest-Health/Invasive-Non-Native-Plants”

So why do Native Plant Lives Matter? We require native plants as a foundation of support to sustain our lives. Without native plants, millions of organisms can Not live including us! We get oxygen, food, clean water, and even shelter from all of the diversity within our ecosystems and environments. The more destruction we cause within our environments now, the less likely our kids are going to be able to live in the future! So don’t continue to make poor decisions our kids have to live with and teach them about the importance of Native Plants, the difference between Native, non-Native, and invasive plants, and please for the love of something larger than “you”, support your local Native Plant Society!

To learn more about Native Plants, research the Native Plant Society near you: “https://www.fnps.org/”

And for a larger understanding of our current relationships with our Native Plant friends and how to strengthen or restore this back to health and or balance, read or listen to the audiobook “Bringing Nature Home by Douglas W. Tallamy” and visit: “https://homegrownnationalpark.org/”