At the time of the pre-colonial settlers the Americas were a very different world than we know today, thanks in majority to the wealth of native plant and animal species still inhabiting the continent. Today these flora and fauna have been greatly extinguished due in part to land cultivation and development as well as the introduction of non-native species, but bits of them still remain to help stabilize the fragile ecosystem.
Many of the last vestiges of these native plants lie in so-called “weeds.” Weed usually refers to a plant seen as an unwanted or over populous and unattractive, but the fact is that while many weeds may appear unattractive, they are he basis for the native habitat, evolving in conjunction with native animal species. These native plants and animals fit together like a puzzle. Should the nutritious benefits of the ‘weed’ disappear, so does the animal species, unable to find the same key nutrients in “more desirable” cultivated non-native plants.
Some of the main perpetrators include ornamental gardens, full of colorful, delicate plants devoid of any environmental nutritional value. Instead of using the most colorful plants in your garden, investigate species native to your area that are not only acclimated to your climate and therefore require less tending, but which also provide native animal species with the nutrients they need for survival.
In fact, invasive alien plant species are the second leading cause of animal extinction, but it can be hard to distinguish between native and non-native, or “invasive,” weed species. Some of the most voracious and pesky plants are in fact alien in themselves, including Japanese knotweed, Oriental bittersweet, and Multiflora rose. It is best to remove these plants to allow room for native species to flourish.
What’s more, since native species are more acclimated to the climate of your region, they’re better able to cope with poor weather and many times may even be perennial, allowing them to bloom year after year. Native plant species also provide the best stock for fall or winter gardens
, as well as providing protection
against seasonal pests.
So make sure to include weeds in your garden and preserve some of the native spirit of the land on which we live.
My Bio & Articles
I am an junior English major/ Philosophy minor at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Currently I am spending the spring of 2009 studying at the University College Cork in Cork, Ireland.