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Old 01-22-2014, 02:46 PM   #1
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Default Native plant cultivars

OK, I know it's a hot topic among native plant enthusiasts and it is discussed and argued over frequently (at WG too!) so I thought I'd stir the pot and get some more discussion going here.

Here are some of the blogs posts I've found.

How 'Wild Ones' Got It Wrong on Native Plant Cultivars

Nativars in Your Wildlife Garden

Native Cultivars - Good, Bad, and Ugly

Native Plant Cultivars That Are Good For Wildlife

The Nativar Dilemma
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:28 PM   #2
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Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day when a thought occurred to me.

(I guess I really should read your links before responding, but here goes anyway...) The other day, I came up with the idea of explaining why I'm reluctant to use cultivars: It is like finding out that almost every sperm bank in the nation has been fully stocked by its one and only donor.
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Last edited by dapjwy; 01-22-2014 at 06:31 PM. Reason: rephrasing
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:54 PM   #3
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From
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Originally Posted by linrose View Post
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Also, keep in mind that high genetic diversity is NOT a desirable goal. The entire reason we prefer local ecotypes (plants from nearby wild populations) is to REDUCE genetic diversity to just the traits that evolved in that local population.
I found this blog article very informative...thanks for sharing, linrose.
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Old 01-22-2014, 07:14 PM   #4
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From the first link/the same blog I quoted above:

Quote:
In some cases, native cultivars underperform the seed-grown variants in ecological function but in other cases they outperform. Bascially, it depends.
So, what is my bottom line on native plant cultivars?
  1. Native plant cultivars ARE native plants.
  2. If your design permits it, and they are available, choose plants that are seed-grown from seed collected at a local wild source.
  3. If you design demands a cultivar, choose ones that are most similar in form to the local ecotype.
  4. Avoid native plant cultivars which have flowers, berries, or leaves that are markedly different from the wild variants.
I also thought I'd share this quote from the comment section:

Quote:
Quote:
Benjamin Vogt says:
January 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm
Isnít this the big big big problem: who the heck is gonna look at each native and each cultivar native and compare, plant by plant? Who is gonna sit down, I mean regular Joe the Gardener, and think, hmm, I wonder how this cultivar looks (leaves, fruit, blooms) compared to the straight species and what that means for wildlife and ecology. I donít know where to fall here, being in ďpuristĒ mode and embracing it lately. Part of me says, yeah, even a cultivar is a needed hook or gateway drug, the other part of me says, why the heck canít we have local ecotype straight species plants? Well, duh, we canít because thereís little demand, but I dream of a native plant nursery in every city that sources wild seed and grows those native plants. Whatever. The conversation will always spiral out of control and get cray cray. Just stop planting damned butterfly bush.
Benjamin Vogt recently posted..
The Nature of Cultivating Home in the Great Plains



And add: Luckily, I do have a native plant nursery (about 2 hours from here) that does grow from wild seed (and documents the eco-region from which it came, I believe)...and I have seen others near by with tags reading "local ecotype". I'm sure I'm in the minority of customers who care where the plants originated, but I am also not alone.
This is very though provoking, linrose. Good thread topic.
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:25 PM   #5
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The other day, I came up with the idea of explaining why I'm reluctant to use cultivars: It is like finding out that almost every sperm bank in the nation has been fully stocked by its one and only donor.
What an analogy!(But I'm still keeping my burgundy physocarpus.)
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Old 01-25-2014, 01:29 PM   #6
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What an analogy!(But I'm still keeping my burgundy physocarpus.)
LOL! I'll have you know I rephrased it twice and I still wasn't sure about posting it.
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Old 01-25-2014, 02:24 PM   #7
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There are a couple of things that disturb me about the first link's argument. First I'm always disappointed when an author attempts to redefine 'native' to suit their own purposes. A native cultivar is only native where it evolved. It is not native anywhere else. As much as some nurseries want to alter the definition of native in order to increase the number of 'native plants' that they can sell as natives, if it's not native it's not native.

The second is the use of the 'purist' label. It always seems to get thrown into arguments that want to redefine 'native' on a much broader scale. It baffles me that anyone buys the argument that trying 'too hard' is a really bad thing. I much prefer Aldo Leopold's perspective:
"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive."
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:29 PM   #8
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There are a couple of things that disturb me about the first link's argument. First I'm always disappointed when an author attempts to redefine 'native' to suit their own purposes. A native cultivar is only native where it evolved. It is not native anywhere else. As much as some nurseries want to alter the definition of native in order to increase the number of 'native plants' that they can sell as natives, if it's not native it's not native.
I should probably reread the first blog link (the only one I've read so far)...but my mind is about as distracted as it was when I read the first one. I just focused on the parts I agreed with...mainly trying to find seed and sources of local genotype.

I agree that genetic diversity should come from locally adapted plants, not from plants (including native cultivars) originating from far and wide. Even though many species have native ranges that cover huge geographic areas, trying to create more genetic diversity by bringing in seed and/or plants which originated from places very distant from one's own ecoregion pollutes the local genetic diversity by introducing genes adapted to different climatic conditions.

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Originally Posted by NEWisc View Post
I much prefer Aldo Leopold's perspective:
"We shall never achieve harmony with land, any more than we shall achieve absolute justice or liberty for people. In these higher aspirations, the important thing is not to achieve but to strive."
I always smile when I read that quote...I'm all for striving to create the best restoration I can here.
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:11 PM   #9
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Actually, one thought is that by adding some genetic diversity from populations of those natives that are from a more southerly climate zone from your own might help your natives withstand the upcoming climate change.
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:02 PM   #10
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Actually, one thought is that by adding some genetic diversity from populations of those natives that are from a more southerly climate zone from your own might help your natives withstand the upcoming climate change.
That's a thought that I share with you. This winter, however, may have destroyed the attempts I have made to help the migration of plants from the south of my zone to acclimate here, as the temperatures have been the lowest we have had in recent memory. It hit minus 9 here a few weeks ago, so I wonder if some of those plants from the Southeast, which, by the way, I purchased at the New England Wildflower Society, made it. THe Spring will tell the story, and , in the end, nature will have her way... even if we as a species are no longer here.
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