En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 22, 2009

From: Graham, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Research on Native vs. Non-Native Plants
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

I am doing a research project on comparing and analyzing the effects of non-native plants vs. native plants on the environment and surrounding ecosystems. The end result of my project will be to design and implement a garden landscape, using native plants that will thrive in Graham, North Carolina. With your vast knowledge in this area, can you suggest some source materials to help with my research and suggest some native plants that will thrive and provide a positive effect on the surrounding ecosystem?

ANSWER:

A good comprehensive source summarizing the benefits of native plants is the book Bringing Nature Home, by Douglas W. Tallamy. The author, an entomologist with the University of Delaware, has researched differences in wildlife diversity on native and non-native plants and in this book he summarizes what is known about the subject, gives the history of non-native introductions, ranks plants by their usefulness to insects, and gives answers to common questions about native plants.

The bibliography in Tallamy’s book will give you a starting point for further research, but here is a short list of academic journals commonly used for reference on your topic. Most at least have brief summaries of their articles accessible online, with full articles available at university libraries or online with paid subscriptions:

Journal of Restoration Ecology, Journal of Environmental Sciences, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Ecography, Journal of Vegetation Science, Journal of Arid Environments, Oecologia, Grasslands, and Revista de Biología Tropical.

Here are some sample articles:


Measuring floristic homogenization by non-native plants in North America;

Insect Biodiversity and Assessment of Herbivory in Native and Non-Native Plants in Mo’orea, French Polynesia;

and

Impact of Native Plants on Bird and Butterfly Biodiversity in Suburban Landscapes.

If you do a web search on the phrases “native plants” and “non-native plants”, followed by the word “study”, several articles will come up, with a variety of conclusions. Tallamy covers many of the nuances of the topic in his book.

And on your landscaping project, an excellent reference for your region is Sally and Andy Wasowski’s book, Gardening with Native Plants of the South. Using only native plants, the authors provide several garden plans and useful information about 228 native plants, including the natural companion plants of each species and what animals rely on them.

The Wildflower Center website can also help you choose plants with our Combination Search plant selection function. Just select your state, specify the light level and soil moisture of your site, and go. A list will come up of plants from which to choose.

Your state's native plant society has a good list of references that could also be of help to you.

 

More Non-Natives Questions

Non-native Royal Empress tree with only green leaves from Chambersburg PA
July 12, 2013 - I have 3 Royal Empress trees in my yard that are between 2-4 yrs old and have never been any color other then big Green leaves. Do you know when they will turn Purple?
view the full question and answer

Replacement for pygmy date palms in Spring, TX
April 15, 2010 - We live in Spring, Texas and the front door of our house faces East. Last winter we lost both of our beautiful pigmy date palms! We are trying to find "unique" accent plants for our front entry. D...
view the full question and answer

Can non-native Jacaranda be grown in San Antonio
May 17, 2011 - Can I grow a jacaranda tree in San Antonio? Wonder if it can handle heat, occasional freezes, & dry seasons.
view the full question and answer

Trees to replace some non-native invasives in Deltona FL
February 02, 2012 - I would like to replace 3 large ChinaBerry & 3 large Chinese Tallow trees in my good sized back yard with some local wildlife friendly trees native to the Deltona area(first area.) What do you recomme...
view the full question and answer

Replanting of non-native Christmas Palm from Sarasota FL
November 28, 2012 - Do you know of a proven technique to plant a Christmas Palm in a built-in concrete pool deck planter box - using gravel around the soil root ball to delay the root bound condition we just ripped out?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center