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PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:50 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 10:14 am
Posts: 31
Location: WI z4
I don't know why I'm feeling a bit philosophical this evening (maybe it's the 30 inch blanket of snow or the below zero temperatures outside my window), but whatever it is, here goes ...

The discussion on "What is a native plant?" usually centers on various criteria about where a plant occurs naturally. That is, it's presence in an area originates through evolution and other natural forces - exclusive of human actions. I don't disagree with that analysis, but I would suggest that there is another component that is often overlooked in that discussion.

Native plants can be annuals, biennials, or perennials. They can be forbs, grasses, shrubs, trees, etc. So, with these, and many other types of grouping variations, what links them together other than their presence at a specific location? Their relationship to the local ecosystem.

Native plants are an important and integral part of their local ecosystems. They make a positive contribution to it's well being and continued existence. Not neutral, not negative, but positive. Whether it's supplying pollen/nectar to a pollinator, serving as a host plant for some insect, providing fodder for a herbivore, etc.; it fills an important niche. There is, of course, reciprocity. The ecosystem supplies what the native plant needs for it's well being and continued existence.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2008 8:23 am
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Location: IL & MI
Accolades for your most astute comments. Extremely thoughtful post.

We humans, although somewhat “weedy”, have a very important niche in these local ecosystems. We’re a part of that food chain whether we like it or not and what we do, or don’t do, does have an impact. Because we are collectively so vital to the future success (or failure) of local ecosystems, we truly should try to be good stewards to the land future generations will inherit.

_________________
The tendency of man's nature to good is like the tendency of water to flow downwards.
-Mencius


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 11:53 am 
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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:02 pm
Posts: 1630
Location: PNW
Good thoughts n.e.w. I wish a larger body of people would think that way. I've seen a lot of damage to the ecosystem in this city. Many wetland areas have been filled in for development and it has displaced a lot of critters. There are people who have been restoring some areas, but it will be a while before a balance is established again. Leaders here just don't seem to realize what a jewel they're sitting on as they keep allowing developments to destroy it. I can only imagine the richness of the diversity of life that lived here before. I see some of it around us, but it's only a matter of time before this area is full of houses or whatever else they allow.

Just yesterday I was watching 3 bald eagles soar overhead. I just stopped what I was doing and watched them until they went out of sight. That is such a treat for me to see them.

I've enjoyed seeing nature at work in our forested area, but I sure have to battle a lot of weeds to allow the natives to flourish. I try not to plant things that will add to the mess, but every once in a while I get something that becomes weedy. When that happens, I either get rid of the plant or don't allow it to go to seed.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:46 pm 
Yes - overdevelopment is slowly but surely ruining everything.

When we moved here 10 years ago, Jan./Feb. was always a real treat because the Barred Owls would be mating & their calls permeated the night. Haven't heard even ONE in the past 2-1/2 years. No Great Horned Owls either. We also had a pair of Red-Tailed Hawks & a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks nesting on our property. The Red-Shouldereds are still around, but the Red-Taileds have apparently moved on. Grey Treefrogs? Gone. Spring Peepers - declining. Deer went from living peaceably to now mowing down everything in sight because so much of their former woods & fields are now townhouses & McMansions.

We do what we can - leave our wooded tracts wild, along with field acreage that's not used for the horses. Also mow carefully around plants like Ironweed & Butterfly Weed whenever possible, & leave as much wild plant life & cover as we can. Regardless, it just seems like every year we notice something else is declining or just plain gone. Sad.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 25, 2006 10:14 am
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Location: WI z4
I too, like to observe all parts of the natural world around my rural home. This morning I saw an adult Bald Eagle on my way over to a friend's house. Simply majestic!

I also enjoy the small (but I thing important) changes that I make to my local ecosystem. Even the little things like replacing a piece of lawn with butterfly host and nectar plants. Or suppressing the invasive Reed Canary Grass along the wetland stream. It was amazing to watch the native seed bank bring the area back to life. Lots of native plants returned, along with many of their fauna counterparts.

It seems frustratingly slow sometimes, but it is very rewarding in time.


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