Is My Wildflower Native?

Is My Wildflower Native?
Terminology for Native Plant Lovers

Native – present in a specific region prior to contact with people from far distant areas (so far as we can tell!).  For example, species “native to the Finger Lakes” are generally based on references from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Non-native/Alien – Known or presumed to be brought in to the region via agriculture, horticulture, or accidentally (e.g. on the feet and tires of travelers)

Naturalized –non-native, but able to form self-sustaining populations in the wild.

Adventive – newly arrived non-native species that MAY become naturalized, typically escapes from horticulture. The term also covers species expanding their native range due to climate or land use changes.

Invasive – aggressive or successful enough to overwhelm and prevent the growth of native species, tending toward a mono-culture. Usually invasive species are non-native, although some can be native to nearby regions where different competitors or herbivores keep it in check. There are federal and some state lists specifying invasive species for legal purposes.

A “wildflower” can be any of the above. For ecological reasons, it is best to plant native, or non-invasive naturalized species. Pollinators, birds, and other wildlife are best served by locally native species.

--R. Parker, written for use at FLNPS native plant sales