Native plants are, by definition, species historically found in a particular location. This means that these have become accustomed to the soils, pests, hydrology and other environmental factors that are unique to a certain area. With the ease and access of exotic and potentially invasive species just around the corner, it is important to understand why a native plant species may be the best choice, or the only choice, in some instances.
The plants and animals living in Florida play a critical role in our local ecosystems, with native plant species filling this role since long before we moved here. Local fauna have become dependent on them for food, foraging and mating, and without them may not be able to survive or complete their life cycle. Often, native insects need native plants to survive, which in turn feed the birds and mammals that require the insects to survive. Herbivorous insect species are collectively good, and as a consequence also excel at providing food for other species. So when the native plants have been removed or out-competed by invasive exotic species, it can change the dynamic of an ecosystem.
Many native plants and their wildlife counterparts have evolved together and are ultimately dependent on one another. Everything from the shape, structure, and chemical content of plants have evolved to the feeding habits of the native insects, animals, and birds. With the relatively sudden change of the urban and sub-urban landscape, the utilization of exotic and invasive species has increased due to their fast growth, low cost, and lack of natural controls.
By utilizing and installing native plants, you are promoting Florida’s natural history and encouraging the propagation of native ecosystems. If you want more information on native plants and their benefit, contact Lake and Wetland Management. We will see what may be the best species for your area, and can offer a variety that includes herbaceous aquatics, grasses, shrubs and trees.