Islands of Native Plants

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Prairie, Chicago Botanic Garden     shot on  9/13/2013

As a recent post —Is Native Better? —on this blog stated:” it is a mistake to think that native plants as a category are better survivors than adapted species just because of their ‘nativeness’.” It seems to me that it is native plants’ “nativeness” that limits their possibility of extension in the wild. Because of unusual environments or very harsh climates or exceptional soil conditions, although some types of plants can live in diverse areas or by adaptation to different surroundings, some native plants exist only within a very limited range.

Actually, ecologists at the University of Toronto and ETH Zurich have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild. According to their reports, Invasive plant species may harm native grasslands by changing soil composition. And native plant species in invaded ecosystems are often relegated to patchy, marginal habitats unsuitable to their nonnative competitors. As far as I’m concerned, invasion is creating isolated ‘islands of native plants’ in a sea of exotics.

Nicholas R. Jordan, Laura Aldrich-Wolfe, Sheri C. Huerd, Diane L. Larson, Gary Muehlbauer. Soil–Occupancy Effects of Invasive and Native Grassland Plant Species on Composition and Diversity of Mycorrhizal Associations.Invasive Plant Science and Management, 2012; 5 (4): 494 DOI: 10.1614/IPSM-D-12-00014.1

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