When selecting plants for landscaping and agriculture, there are many advantages to planting native over non-native foliage.
Native plants are resistant to diseases found in their natural ranges. For example, the non-native pine trees in Missouri are susceptible to attacks from several insects such as the bark beetle. This beetle removes the tree bark in order to build galleries to lay eggs. The damage to the bark causes a lack of sap flow which immediately kills the tree. The insect population then moves to nearby live trees and infects them. In contrast, the native Redbud and Burr Oak trees have no predators. These adaptations to the environment result in the need for no pesticides or herbicides to be used to sustain a healthy population.
Native plants are not weakened by temperature fluctuation and are, therefore, able to survive in winter and drought conditions. Native plants to Missouri are able to withstand variation in water temperature due to the natural changes in seasons. Plants that are native to locations where there is a large amount of rain will quickly dry up and die during years with less rain.
Using these plants in landscaping will also help support the life of native animals. Hummingbirds are attracted to the native Trumpet Creeper. The American Basswood supplies nectar for bees while American Holly provides food and a place for birds to nest. The color of plants, such as the blue-black fruit of Arrowwood, attracts birds and other wildlife. Growing what is native to Missouri will continue to preserve the ecosystem dependent on these plants.
For additional information on buying native plants visit Grow Native! by the Missouri Prairie Foundation at www.grownative.org.