Plant Native Plants to Support Local Environment, Wildlife

Plant Native Plants to Support Local Environment, Wildlife

April 21, 2022

This June 2020 image provided by Debbie Roos shows North Carolina native plants growing in the demonstration Pollinator Paradise Garden in Pittsboro, N.C. (Debbie Roos/NC Cooperative Extension via AP)

Earth Day is April 22. Every year, people around the world observe the day by helping to care for the environment. They carry out all kinds of activities in an effort to better the planet’s health.

One way to support this goal is to grow plants native to your area. This helps wildlife like birds and insects that evolved alongside native plants. For many of these animals, plant pollen is their food.

Native pollinators often cannot recognize non-native plants as food. This means they do not collect the pollen or spread plants' seeds.

Planting non-native species creates so-called “food deserts” for pollinators including bees, birds, bats, butterflies and more.

Doug Tallamy is a professor of entomology at the University of Delaware. Entomology is the study of insects. He found that non-native plant species can harm the natural food chain, which can lead to a collapse of the environment.

“Plant choice matters,” he said. “The plants we choose to landscape our properties (with) should be determined by how much life can live there.”

Humans depend strongly on insects. Without them, we would have no flowering plants, which would harm the food web that supports important animals. Birds, for example, depend on plants for food and spread their seeds while keeping the populations of harmful insects down.

Insects support plants that provide oxygen, clean our water, capture carbon and add nutrients to the soil. That builds topsoil and prevents flooding. Without insects, the biosphere – the living parts of the Earth – would rot because of the loss of insect decomposers. Humans simply could not survive that, Tallamy said.

In addition to providing food and habitat for insects and other wildlife, native plants are able to grow easily and do not require much care. That means less watering and less fertilizing. The situation is a win-win for gardeners and pollinators.

I’m Ashley Thompson.


1. observe/əbˈzɜːrv/ something ( formal)v. to celebrate festivals, birthdays, etc.

2. native/ˈneɪtɪv/(of animals and plants) a. existing naturally in a place.
            ex: The tiger is native to India.

3. evolve/ɪˈvɒlv/ [intransitive, transitive] (biology) (of plants, animals, etc.) v. to develop over time, often many generations, into forms that are better adapted to survive changes in their environment.

4. so-called [usually before noun] a. used to introduce the word that people usually use to describe something
        ex: artists from the so-called ‘School of London’
5. entomology /ˌentəˈmɑːlədʒi/ the scientific study of insects.
6. collapse /kəˈlæps/ [countable, usually singular, uncountable] n. a sudden failure of something, such as an institution, a business or a course of action.
7. keep something down v.​to make something stay at a low level; to avoid increasing something.
        ex: Keep the noise down (= be quiet).

 8. capture /ˈkæptʃər/  v.catch
     ***capture somebody’s heart to make somebody love you

9. biosphere /ˈbaɪəʊsfɪr/ n. the part of the earth’s surface and atmosphere in which plants and animals can live.

10. rot /rɒt/ v.​ to decay/dɪˈkeɪ/, or make something decay, naturally and gradually.

11. decomposer /ˌdi·kəmˈpoʊ·zər/ an organism such as some types of bacteria or fungi that feeds on dead plant and animal material and causes it to decay.

12. habitat /ˈhæbɪtæt/ n. the place or type of place where a plant or animal naturally or normally lives or grows.

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