Rivercities Garden Club

Meeting 1/8/2012

Program - Why Native Plants

 The distinction between native plants and heirloom plants is often misunderstood by gardeners.

Heirloom plants are plant material that is handed down from generation to generation.  An heirloom plant may be native or might be an alien plant in a given  environment.   The origin of these plants can be anywhere.  The duration of the plant in a given ecosystem is measured in human time.

Native plants have been growing in an environment with time measured in milenia.  These plants are native to a specific ecosystem not a political entity.  Native plants have a mutualism with other organisms both animal and insect.  These pollinate plants while having a supply of food � a mutual relationship .  A native plant generally has 30 50 x species of insects interacting with the plant compared to alien plant which have only a few or none.  Alien plants have not been living in a region to have evolved with insects and other organisms.

An example of mutualism is the ruby breast humming bird which has flown from the Caribbean  to Louisiana when at the same time the red buckeye blooms are at the peak.  These blooms are the first food for the birds on their migration and for the buckeye the birds are the sole pollinator.  The number of mutual interactions are far fewer for alien plants.

Alien plants can sometimes be hazardous to native plants.  For example the American chestnut has been devastated by the fungus brought by the Japanese chestnut.  Another example is the progressive destruction of the flowering dogwood by the fungus brought here to the United States by the Chinese dogwood.   Our trees have had far insufficient time to evolve with alien organisms. 

Alien plants have no insect that are adapted to eating the plant.  This is major problem.  The plant serves no purpose in the environment.   

References:

                Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens: A Handbook for Gardeners, Homeowners and Professionals; Gil Nelson

                Heirloom Gardening in the South: Yesterday�s Plants for Today�s Gardens Dr. William C. Welch PhD, Greg Grant, Felder Rushing and Ms. Cynthia W. Mueller


The Speaker - Bud Willis

Dr. G. WillisDr. Gladden Willis is a retired pathologist.  He has always been interested in plants.  On his retirement from medicine he returned to the family land on the west side of Lake Bistineu.  Over the last several years he has developed a plant nursery specializing in native  and heirloom shrubs and trees.

Willis Farms; 3100 Herren Rd, Doylene, La  71023

CELL: 318-458-0471
LAND: 318-745-2251 or 745-3048
FAX: 318-745-3246
EMAIL: gladdenwillis@hughes.net
WEB: http://www.willisfarm.net

"No garden should be without insects."

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