Habitat destruction has claimed a majority of Illinois’ forest and prairie. Fortunately, many species have survived in remnants of once great ecosystems. While its difficult to establish a populations of native plants with significant genetic diversity and numbers that allow them to flourish on their own, the rewards are worth the effort. Native plants are important to include not only because they must be preserved as species but also because they strengthen the ecosystem’s resilience. Native plants are often adapted to niche soils, low nutrient levels, drought, moisture fluctuations, and intense heat. Native plant’s have evolved to live in our soils and climates making many easy to cultivate. Natives have evolved alongside many the pests and disease found in Illinois making them resistant. They have also evolved alongside beneficial organisms that make their homes among natives. Natives include annuals and perennials with a variety of ecosystem and economic functions. Natives can be nitrogen fixers, flowers, medicinal herbs, culinary herbs, starch crops, fiber, etc. The most important application of natives, however, is building a resilient and diverse system.
We are always looking for new natives to add to our system.