Why Native Plants Matter

“Every time we force a species to extinction we are encouraging our own demise.” –Douglas Tallamy, entomologist, wildlife ecologist

Not just any plant will do

New England’s insects, fish, birds, reptiles, mammals all evolved in intricate, mutually dependent relationships with the region’s native plants. For example:

  • Ninety percent of all plant-eating insect species rely on particular native plants.
  • Hundreds of mammal, fish, reptile, and bird species feed on insects.
  • In North America, 90 percent of bird <species?> feed their young with insects.
Eastern bluebird feeds its fledgling. Photo by Oakley Originals

When one species goes extinct, other species follow

  • Nearly 900 plant species in the U.S. are now officially endangered
  • Twenty-two percent of New England's 2,400 native plant species are in decline.
  • All over the world, plant and animal species are disappearing 100 times faster than normal.
  • The extinction of each species affects many other interdependent species, fraying the web of life.

Like other mammals, human beings cannot survive in a world without plants

  • Thirty-five percent of the world’s crop production–one of every three mouthfuls we consume–depends on pollinators, including native bees.
  • In the U.S., the imported non-native bees that now dominate industrial agriculture are crashing, and native bees, the more efficient pollinators, are in decline.
  • Eighty species of native bees visit berry crops in New England.
  • Native plants support the life cycles of native bees <ck>, and native plants are in decline.
  • Worldwide, 80 percent of people depend on plants for medicinal uses, and 40 percent of the drugs in a typical Western pharmacy are derived from plants, including the 20 best-selling drugs in the U.S.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginica)

If you care about native plants, join us

Explore what our conservation scientists are doing to save imperiled plants, control invasive plants, and keep common plants common. Browse our classes, programs, and family activities to dig deeper into the green world. Visit our unique native plant botanic garden. And learn how you can support our efforts to conserve New England’s native plants.

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