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Still tough to grow in gardens
No denying it: 'Go native' is a good way to go
Plants that are native to an area often have advantages over
those introduced from other regions, because the natives are
adapted to the specific climate. They also form the base of unique
ecosystems, creating critical habitat and food for native insects,
birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
However, the relationship between gardening and plant species
conservation is complex and laws are confusing.
Here are some things to think about, if you want to grow native
and help conserve those species. There are many interesting and
important things to know. We've broken them up to spare your eyes
and limit scrolling, and because we expect to be adding to these
Where to get a list of endangered plants in
Why one list can't apply to everyone
Finding seeds and plants, and growers of
One unusual magnolia as an example
About the legal confusion: Admit it but don't let it stymie
Well meaning people have done a lot to protect at-risk plants.
With laws in place that make it illegal to collect seeds or plants
of endangered and threatened species, authorities can prosecute
those who go into parklands to dig ginseng and other species -- a
practice that was pushing plants to extinction.
So it's a matter of great frustration to many that many of those
laws aren't clear about whether individuals may collect seed or
move/disturb plants of these species on their own
That's unfortunate, if it inhibits conservation. Excellent
plantspeople, among them Fred Case (Orchids of the Great Lakes Region)
and Bob Stewart (founder, Arrowhead
Alpines) who studied these plants for a lifetime and assisted
in obtaining protection for various species, simultaneously urged
gardeners with appropriate habitat to grow and propagate these
plants. As Case said at a presentation about native plants at
University of Michigan Matthaei Botanical Gardens, "Until we stop
and reverse the loss of environment that has put these plants in
danger, we must keep them somewhere!"
We embrace that principle, and promote native species for
gardens (you can download our list). We hope
conservationists work out ways to produce enough plants of
endangered species to repopulate wild areas. We encourage
individuals who have property in natural areas to learn to identify
natives so they can preserve and encourage the spread of at-risk
plants where they are most likely to thrive. We also do what we can
to support official land use policies that preserve natural
ecosystems and native species.
An excellent start: Know the plant and where it may grow
The shooting star known as Pride of Ohio (Primula
meadia, also known as Dodecatheon meadia) is
endangered in Michigan. (Go figure that, you Buckeyes and
Wolverines!) Search for such a plant using its scientific name plus
search qualifiers "native habitat" to find guides such as this from
the University of Michigan Herbarium (curated by someone you may meet
on our Forum!)
Click to browse the Herbarium's site by plant genus,
checking other species' maps
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