What Is a Native, Anyway?
To keep things simple, ANPP defines natives as the plants that were already growing in Acadiana before Europeans arrived. Non-native (or exotic) plants were introduced here by human activity. In most cases, these species can’t survive and reproduce on their own without our care, such as Oriental camellias or azaleas. Naturalized plants are non-native species that reproduce and disperse into the wild, like Chinese tallow tree or Japanese honeysuckle. Native or non-native species that grow aggressively and may easily dominate a landscape are described as invasive or aggressive.
Why Are Natives Important?
Residential and commercial development, traditional maintenance practices, and the use of non-native plants in many gardens disrupts habitat and food sources critical to local and migratory bird and animal species. More and more people are waking up to the importance of bringing native plants back to our gardens, but like other communities around the U.S., it can be a challenge to get our hands on the right plants. Acadiana Native Plant Project is here to help!
Greaux Native! And Buy As Local As You Can
Native plants are already naturally prepared for our climate, soil, and rainfall patterns, and for interaction with other local plants, insects, and animals. They can survive and flourish under our heat, humidity, and disease pressures without extra inputs of chemicals and water. Scientists now recommend we cultivate natives originating within a 50- to 100-mile radius of where we live, to help preserve local “ecotypes,” the genetically unique plant populations best adapted to our local environment. Staying as local as possible with our plant purchases and propagation provides a horticultural edge in superior foliage, flowering, seed set and germination, as well as in preserving local genes to preserve the vigor associated with local stock. Reputable nurseries will tell you where their plants come from. Seed and plants guaranteed to be “native local ecotypes” are best.