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

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Wednesday - August 10, 2011

From: Charlotte, NC
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Plants native to Caribbean from Charlotte NC
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Do you know of any shade tolerant plants native to the Caribbean that may be available to buy at a local nursery? I know this is a tough question to answer on many levels.. essentially, if I wanted to buy a plant (in Charlotte) native to the islands, what would you suggest? Thanks so much!

ANSWER:

Frankly, we can't suggest much of anything, because a native to the Caribbean would probably NOT be native to North Carolina. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is committed to the use, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the areas in which those plants grow natively. Local nurseries always have many non-native plants for sale, but there is no guarantee that they would even know where the plant was native.

We found one previous Mr. Smarty Plants question that discusses some references to Caribbean and Florida plants. Quoting from that previous answer:

"There are a large number of plant species native to South Florida and the Caribbean. Too many, in fact, to even attempt to list in an email. Fortunately, there are some good online resources available to you as well as some published books for South Florida. Information regarding Caribbean native flora is more problematic.

Correll and Correll's Flora of the Bahama Archipelago is a standard reference for those islands. Unfortunately, we do not know of any exhaustive references for the rest of the Caribbean. Most books available are field guides to flowering plants and are limited in scope. The Integrated Taxonomic Information System provides geographic distribution information about plants in the Caribbean but you would have to download the entire database to filter them out."

We also found an article on Going Native in Caribbean Islands, which was about plants. You could possibly write down common and scientific names of some of these plants, and see if regional nurseries carried them.

 

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