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Old 01-06-2009, 11:20 AM   #21
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One possible solution to the "native" question would be to simply provide a link to the USDA's Plant Database native distribution map for each species. For Potentilla pensylvanica L. var. litoralis (Pennsylvania cinquefoil) for example, it would be this one:
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?...11_001_avd.tif

If someone knew of an error in the native distribution map we could add that information to the listing.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:49 PM   #22
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I've heard many different descriptions and arguments about what's native and what isn't. Most often native plants are described as those that were here before this country (continent) was colonized by Europeans. This would exclude those plants that prehistoric people brought across the Bearing Strait. It's sort of an arbitrary dividing line, but a useful one since the invasion of non-native plants sort of exploded after European colonization.

Native plants often extend their ranges. This can happen naturally or it can be driven by human activities. The cup plant, for instance, has a historical range that comes only to the very western portion of NY. Gardeners have however transplanted it into the Adirondack region where it is causing problems. I don't think of this plant as being native to the Adirondacks even if it has naturalized. (I also wouldn't recommend it for the garden as it is very aggressive.) Of course all plants have at some time (geologically speaking) been new to their ranges.

The problem is, people are spreading plants at an extremely fast rate. This is reducing biodiversity. I think the whole point of the native/non-native designation is to make people aware of the role that they play in spreading invasive plants. I personally try to buy only plants that are native to the area where I am planting them. I make a few exceptions to this rule. I like peonies for example and have never heard of them causing problems in this area.
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Old 01-06-2009, 04:57 PM   #23
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One of the problems with the USDA's Plant Database is that if a plant exists in one portion of NY, it just shows it as being a NY native. (It doesn't tell you that it only belongs in the very western portion of NY, for instance.) This is how we came to plant the cup plants (in my previous message) here in the garden at the zoo. It was after we planted them here that I found out that they are invasive in the Adirondacks which isn't all that far away. We've been trying to decide whether we should dig them out or not.
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Old 01-06-2009, 10:58 PM   #24
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I think the database should give the range of the native plant.

It should show pictures of the seedling, plant, leaves, flower, seed-head and seeds. I've never seen these shown together in any other database.

Kzoot, that's odd...my cup plants behave themselves, LOL! And the birds eat the seeds just after they ripen.

I've got 80 varieties of uncommon native plants planted that will hopefully sprout this spring. If I have good luck, I will happily provide pictures of the seedlings.
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Old 01-07-2009, 09:18 AM   #25
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Maybe your cup plants behave themselves because they are native to your habitat. They reseed themselves with a vengeance here. We try to deadhead them before they drop their seeds, but that sort of defeats the point of planting them so that the birds can eat the seeds.

A plant in the right place is a pleasure. A plant in the wrong place is a weed. Or something like that.
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Old 01-07-2009, 01:52 PM   #26
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Quote:
I think the database should give the range of the native plant.

It should show pictures of the seedling, plant, leaves, flower, seed-head and seeds. I've never seen these shown together in any other database.
That is an excellent idea, Prairefreak! And something like that would make it much easier for those like me that are trying to learn more about natives, etc. I'm a very visual learned and that would be a godsend for me.
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Old 01-07-2009, 10:12 PM   #27
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I'm up for it, doccat.

I don't really buy into the fact that there is a question as to what plants are native, or not.

The soil cores are there. It's native if it pre-dates settlement by Europeans.

Last edited by Prairiefreak; 01-07-2009 at 10:12 PM. Reason: bleaugh
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:41 AM   #28
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So Prairiefreak, I see you are from Illinois. What are your thoughts on Robinia pseudoacacia or Fothergilla gardenii for that matter.
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Old 01-14-2009, 08:47 PM   #29
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Swamp thing, you appear to have experience working with plant databases, and native plants. If you are interested in helping us out here would you kindly contact anybody on Staff.

Everyone will be included, however, we're quite a few months away from launching a database because of budgetary restraints.
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Old 01-15-2009, 07:22 AM   #30
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I would love to help out too. I photograph native plants in Northern Indiana and help rescue plants, and educate others on their history. Let me know what you need.

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