Is it cheating to use varieties that were bread from natives?

gribbleton

For example, instead of native Itea virginica, using another variety like 'Merlot.'



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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

There are many nuances to this question. Do you live where there is plant living in its native situation or are you in an urban/suburban situation? I would say that if you are out where more of it grows , than you need to worry that this strain would get mixed into the native population. This might not be as much of a problem if the cultivar was just a specific location that had some special characteristics,. It is more of a no no if it was hybridized or treated with a "process" like nuking it to change the genes and that characteristic getting back into the native gene pool. Humans change pretty natives to be prettier, and they do not worry about being tough enough to withstand nature at its worse. They also change plants to be not huge seeders. They like finicky characteristics because that means that one will buy more of it. AND if they do not make many seeds, even better. These characteristics are not winners in the native habitat. If you are living in a city or surrounded by lands where the native does not live because its habitat has been plowed up, then there is not as much to worry about, but if you live out in the middle of habitat, get the native stuff. I do not think in terms of "cheating".. I am not a purist but I am cautious about spreading invasive because of where I live. Beyond the area of where my house is, NO ONE, I mean NO ONE is out there weeding. I fight invasive scotch thistle and KR bluestem. and do not want to add to the problem.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Just want to point out-and I agree in general with Wanto's post above-irradiation to effect some genetic change in a plant species is extremely uncommon. Most cultivars are simple selections, the grower having say, a field of ten thousand of some species, and then noticing something about one or two which catches his/her eye, then going on to offer this "selection", or perhaps crossbreeding to strengthen or concentrate whatever characteristic it is that is deemed desirable. Next up is simple hybridization, wherein similar but not identical plants are crossed and possibly back-crossed, again ,in order to get more of some characteristic. That's essentially the same as the second half of the selection example, except the two plants are often similar and come from the same genus, but may not be the same species, like the Freeman maple which is simply a cross of silver maple with red maple, and which btw happens naturally all the time in certain areas.

Then you've got actual genetic engineering, often erroneously called genetic modification. All of the processes described here are genetic modification, including simply noticing one plant out of a thousand and going on to propagate that one plant. Genetic engineering is where genetic material from a totally dissimilar species is inserted into another species, in order to confer some property or characteristic into that plant species. Thus we have corn with genes inserted from Bacillus thuringiensis to confer insect resistance to whatever corn is planted from such seed, "Roundup-Ready" corn, soybeans, etc. wherein genes have been inserted giving the crop resistance to the effects of glyphosate herbicide, and on and on. There are lots more examples, and while in today's anti-science zeitgeist, many are up in arms over any mention of such practices, it is extremely likely that some aspect or other of your life is already being improved by such. Each single example should, IMO, be judged on its own merits.

I get in fights about this all the time here on GW (er...Houzz, gawd I hate that name), so I'm going to leave it there. Of course, a great deal more could be said!

+oM

ps.......just to be clear, "hybridization" can mean combining genetics of two plants within same species......or two plants not within same species but sufficiently close genetically, as in same genus.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

I suppose it depends on what you mean by cheating. Maybe you don't mean "could this potentially be harmful ecologically" but rather "can I still call it native if it's a selection or hybrid"?

Then the question becomes "who's setting the rules?"

My own interest in natives has four goals: 1) provide value for native wildlife, especially pollinators and birds; 2) minimize the need for additional inputs of water, fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, etc.; 3) create a looser, more natural aesthetic for my yard; and 4) don't break the bank.

I figure that selections or hybrids of species that are both native somewhere near me (for example, Amelanchier x grandiflora) fit the first three criteria reasonably well, so they're native enough for my purposes. I do think that 3) probably requires that not everything I'm planting is the most floriferous, brightly colored plant available. I'd rather have Echinacea pallida scattered through grasses than beds full of PowWow Wild Berry or whatever, but that's more of a personal preference rather than an ecological consideration.

As far as cost goes, I'm trying to plant as much from seed as possible. I can't afford to fill my yard with expensive trademarked cultivars, or even to fill it all with seedlings because I'm using cultivars that are either sterile or that don't stay true to form. I'm willing to use cultivars here and there for specimens, often in situations where the native species grows too large to fit the space I've got for it.

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Vicissitudezz(Zone 8b, SC)

One other consideration is whether a cultivar of a native plant has a similar value for pollinators as the species. It's possible that a prettified hybrid of a native will be more attractive to plant shoppers, but less attractive to wildlife (say, if it is sterile and produces no nutritious seeds, or has fewer stamens or a shape that makes pollen less accessible).


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gribbleton

That was my main consideration - that of vmr423. When certain plants are bread, do insects that have evolved to eat those plants continue to do so, and if so, just as much? If not, these cultivars are not so native after all.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

I'd say it's case by case....no overly broad pronouncements apply. Considering, as I noted above, many, many cultivars are simply selections, there is no likelihood that insects, etc. will view them differently than the other ten thousand plants that were growing in that nursery field. Think here of something like Heliopsis 'Tuscan Sun'. It's really just a normal Heliopsis, maybe a bit more uniform in height, but that's about it. Pollinators like it just fine, as do aphids, I'm afraid. But then, if you look at fancy-shmancy Echinacea cultivars....beautiful to look at, but I hardly consider them coneflowers. Nor perennials for that matter, haha.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I break my own rules, by the way. I grow Artemesia ludovinciana "Valery finis". It grows by stolens but the seeds are not viable ( it appears). They say it is a selection from another area of the west with a cultivar name. I have Artemisia ludovinciniana (sp?) growing in my area and it does grow by seed and is much different in form and habit. As far as I can tell, Valery has never messed around with the locals.

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texasranger2

wiscomsitom, the foo-fru echinaceas look like bedding plants, too civilized, uniform and neat to fit in visually with a native landscape-- simply put, they look unnatural, over-dressed and out of character. The same goes for those wimpy cute little ball shaped neutered and gelded lantana's that almost scream corporate garden plants. They simply look wrong as if they are man-made and designed for spacing in neat little rows (for lack of a better description).

I liken huge overblown to be really HUGE flowers on other hybrid plants to breast implants because thats what pops in my mind.

I named this particular nauseating monstrosity bearing pink fluffy tu-tu's "The Jon Benet Ramsey'. I think its a fitting name. If makes me feel ill to look at it.

I vote OUT OF PLACE IN A NATIVE LANDSCAPE. Cheating? Try irritating.


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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Heh..........I feel ya, TR! That poor girl...and those ridiculous parents. For my part, I just rarely even like double-flowered anything. Give me single-ranked petals any day. It just looks better to me.

At the same time, I dip and dive in between true "restoration ecology" and plain old ornamental horticulture. In fact, my very job features those two domains as significant chunks. Lately, I've been letting the native world bleed into the ornamental a bit more. I'm liking that. But then too, just to put my madness on full display here, I wouldn't doubt one bit that in the future, as insects/fungi/what have you spread all over the world, we will be purposely introducing species-not native to the location in question-with the hope that they will naturalize and fill some niche that has been emptied out because of aforementioned insects/fungi/what have you. It's already being looked at, for instance, out east where hemlock wooly adelgid-a pest from Asia-has decimated our native hemlock. Serious thought is being given to purposely introducing either Chinese hemlocks, or intentionally hybridized hemlocks bearing whatever genetic material confers resistance to that insect on the Chinese ones-into the general population. I can't honestly say I disapprove. Heck, up on my own land-very much a forestry planting-two of my favorite trees are the non-native Norway spruce and the equally non-native hybrid larch.

I wouldn't though, support going into truly pristine sites and mucking about like that. Like say, going into the last bastion of genetic complexity in the Amazon basin and purposely introducing something not already there. But for a huge range of semi-disturbed to very disturbed sites, I can accept a great deal more.....but that's just me.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

most of us are Hybrids transplanted into a foreign land. I am full of genetic annomallies and then multiplied them by the anomalies in my husband....ahh, poor, poor son..

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texasranger2

Now that I've trashed the foo foo hybrids, I need to add that there are nuances as woods tea said. I've gotten some oddities in my own landscape and I like when that happens. For example I have several native Salvia greggi in various shades of red, some from cuttings I took, others from seedlings. Last year one of the seedlings bloomed and it was white. That kind of surprise excites me, frankly I was beside myself. It happened all on its own but nature does that a lot, I wouldn't expect white seedlings from it, they'd probably be the more common pink or red.

I also had a weirdly different Mexican Hat with smaller, cuter, butterscotch colored flowers that popped up as a chance seedling and I definitely kept it, its not the typical taller plant with burgundy blooms like the others I have and its a far cry from being yellow like the other common kind. I don't have yellow so this wasn't a cross between yellow and burgundy.

I have purchased some of the named varieties of switchgrass. These will seed out with grasses having the characteristics of the common species, not keeping the various characteristics of the parent.

Every now and then a nicer plant (form, color whatever) comes up and if someone selects it and markets it I'm fine with that and wouldn't snub it, sometimes I prefer these. I believe the blue grama grass that is being marketed under the name 'Blonde Ambition' was discovered growing wild, I may be wrong but I remember reading something about that. I purchased 8 plants last fall but I also have the more common native ones.

I have sideoats grama. some plants are very vertical and others more lax. I select the vertical stiff ones over the laxer mounding ones. I could name these I suppose to distinguish one type from the other.

I also have a Muhly grass called 'Pink Flamingo' I bought from High Country Gardens. It was discovered as a chance naturally occurring cross between M. lindeheimerii and M. capillaris. I think the seeds must be sterile because I've never gotten any volunteers of either kind of muhly grass from it. I think its an interesting grass and it occurred naturally and is named.

So, named varieties are not necessarily a bad thing in my opinion and as far as cheating is concerned, really WHO does make the rules? I make them here. The plant mentioned by the OP seems fine to me, its not a Jon Benet by any stretch.

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texasranger2

wiscon, I wouldn't even think of messing around with a pristine landscape & I wouldn't consider myself as educated enough to qualify for restoration of an area which would take much more devoted study than what I have done into certain less entertaining areas of expertise which I haven't had to deal with. Ornamental landscaping is a different kettle of fish and I'm glad to see more and more natives being introduced too.

The most sobering aspect is thinking in terms of geologic time as opposed to decades but sometimes decades will show the problem. Its sobering to keep horrors like prickly pear cactus invading Australia in mind when introducing a species into a garden situation, that should be a concern to everyone who gardens but it seems most people don't really think in those terms, thats a problem. I am sure future generations will clearly see obvious problems in hindsight from the #'s of introduced exotic species coming into use based solely on novelty, $$, variety, boredom, sales and visual aesthetics. The consumer demand for ever more variety will come back to bite us, I have no doubts.

Speaking locally, an interesting tree example here is Live Oak. This species has gradually extended its range northward over time from Texas into Oklahoma. The trees in Oklahoma don't look different than the trees in Houston but if you want to plant one from seed in a more northerly part of the country, the ones grown from Oklahoma seeds will succeed while the Houston ones won't survive. The trees naturally moving north have developed a tolerance to cold that the more southern ones don't possess.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

It's actually kind of odd that the live oaks in OK were able to differentiate that fast, if that is what happened. Then again, speciation-the process whereby species split off from one another and new ones get formed, may be much quicker than once thought. Not saying that's what's happening here-just speculating.

My beef would be somebody still planting say, Callery pear-which is happening, even by people that should know better-after it has clearly been identified as an invasive monster. There's just no excusing that, IMO.

Another aspect to this, and yes, I've brought this up before, is the utter blindness of some in the native restoration field. Maybe it's just because of where I operate, but I've seen truly smart, highly-regarded biologists exulting over an utterly artificial prairie construct, while the actual native northern hardwood forest patch right next door is being torn down for yet another suburb. Worrying about the provenance of some Ritibida, when in fact, that species would never have been more than a bit player, and an extremely temporary one at that-within the landscape at hand. Truth is, I could recount story after story like this, but what's the use? I'm just making myself angry, lol!

+oM

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

That echinacea/JonBenet juxtaposition cracked me up, hilarious.

I buy most of my seeds from Prairie Moon because I like their selection and their web interface. Sometimes I think I should be trying to find more local sources. Perhaps the PM seeds are more suited to Wisconsin and won't do as well farther south? There's a good natives nursery over in Jefferson City (mowildflowers.net) that I've bought seedlings from when they do plant sales here in KC, and even though I know I could order seeds from them, they don't have an easy way to do that via web, so I don't.

On the other hand, I've read about one of the challenges for the endangered species Asclepias meadii is lack of genetic diversity. Some populations are no longer sufficiently diverse to reproduce sexually. There's some discussion of this in the recovery plan:

http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/030922b.pdf

They've got a nursery at the Morton Arboretum that's working on building a population of plants for reintroduction, and they've been trying to bring together seeds from across the native range of the plant.

I wonder if in some cases it might be helpful to plant seeds from other regions. Or does it matter? Here's one I've had my eye on:

http://www.highcountrygardens.com/perennial-plants/unique-plants/asclepias-tuberosa-western-gold-mix


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

That is interesting. I have lots of Aesclepias asperula. Maybe it needs some company.

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texasranger2

wiscom, you will be happy to hear that natures natural tree trimmer-- aka Ice Storms + Strong Winds-- has done an impressive number on thinning out the Callery Pears here. The poor things just cannot stand up to much of anything when it comes to duking it out with Okie weather and they have been seriously culled out as a result of natural happenings, they are being replaced everywhere. The forest of them that were planted --in every yard or street median to the point of making one want to barf-- has been seriously thinned over the last two decades as she shows what a wimp she actually is, just when we feared she was taking over the world.

Now its the Knock Out roses. Something evil is working on them so all those millions of Knockouts which seemed to always be planted with Miscanthus Grass is being reassessed against peoples will as the roses succumb to the mysterious grunge. We just need to find a need to replace the Miscanthus with native grasses. Maybe the inevitable doughnut holes will do the job once people decide digging and dividing is not something they want to mess with.

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gribbleton

I do agree, wisconsitom, that it should be a case by case basis. I think the next mission is to find research on these particular cultivars that have been created from originally native plants as to whether or not they are as ecologically beneficial as their native parents.

For example, does a late fall berry in a cultivar made from a native parent plant have the same amount of high energy lipids for migrating birds, or has that benefit been bred out of it? Similar to how they have bred good taste out of some tomatoes over the years.


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Vicissitudezz(Zone 8b, SC)

Maybe some forward-thinking landscapers will replace the Knockouts with native roses. True, the natives can get a bit spready and have thorns, but there are spaces where a Rosa carolina, R. california or R. palustris (or another local species) would be a great addition to the landscape, and a real boon to wildlife... Pollen, hips and habitat, and they're beautiful, also.

Prairie Moon does sell the seeds for some species roses, but with a warning about how they sucker that made me not even want to think about planting a native rose. Hearing from rose-growers who actually grow native species, though, was reassuring. Besides, if they were so very aggressive, why aren't they more prevalent than they are?

I'm not a knee-jerk Knockout-hater... they are good plants for some conditions that will do in other roses, but one-size-fits-all is almost never a good principle- in life or landscaping. And monocultures aren't generally such a great way to go either.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

I'm seeing a lot more native grasses in commercial plantings around town, especially Panicum virgatum (looks like 'Shenandoah'), Schizachyrium scoparium (probably selections but not sure which ones) and Sporobolus heterolepis. Still plenty of Miscanthus, and of course Calamagrostis 'Karl Foerster', but overall it seems like progress is being made. One of the more noticeable plantings is at Kauffman Stadium. It's got lots of native grasses, as well as some things like Salvia azurea, and I think has helped guide the local aesthetic in that direction.

As for me I have two Miscanthus (prob 'Gracillimus') along the south side of the house that I have cut big chunks out of every few years. I have left them in place until some of my native plantings from last year get bigger. This may be the year they come out altogether. They looked good next to H. helianthoides in bloom with blue junipers below, but it's time to move on.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Heh, great thread! I guess I do fall into the "Knockout-Hater" grouping! sorry, I just can't stand that plant and especially, the cavalier way so many "designers" toss off that name, along with the Russian sage, of course. Now I don't want to appear plant-snobbish, and I'm really not. In fact, new Petunia cultivars still catch my eye-in terms of the one-third of my job that deals with ornamental horticulture in a municipal setting. But knockout roses just don't do it for me-never have. In fact, I'm not much for roses period, save for those lovely single-flowered guys in the ditch!

Is Miscanthus an invader down by you guys? I do still appreciate that plant, and up here, we don't get naturalization with it at all, so far as I've ever seen. But point well taken-there's more to landscaping with grasses than just that.

Prairie Moon does do a great job of selecting local genotypes....for us up here. Not as sure if they would be suitable further south. BTW, was an invasives workshop last summer where one of the speakers was a biologist from Morton Arb. Talk about attention to detail! She's working to narrow down provenance to within miles!

+oM

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texasranger2

These plants mentioned that are over-used seem to fit right into to the overall scheme of The Gated Community. Each small yard with its over-sized driveway, ostentatious appearing mini mansion (but constructed with cheap materials) house covered in natural rock with its ridiculous 3 car garage that takes up half the house design jutting out in the front as the first thing you see (to save on length for $$ concrete for driveways) must have a certain controlled look with each house the same essentially but with slight variations for giving the allusion of 'individuality' and the required single tree in the front yard which is the law of the G.C---no exceptions--no arguments.

Its all part of the same trend, the plants which are bred or selected to be 'tame and well behaved', the style of house, which around here means The Dallas Style with identical roof shingles are being reproduced like mushrooms. They wipe off the prairie here and within a short period of time up pops yet another G. C. and then another and then.....

Then they have the effrontery to give all this controlled artificialness a 'nature sounding' name like Woodlake Estates, Green Meadows, Pine Ridge Manor etc etc. Its a way to let people know they are out of the city and in the country (sort of) where nature reigns.

I can tell you this. they do not give a hoot, let alone a thought about whether those plants are good for the ecosystems or not as mentioned above.

On a happier note, in the inner city, downtown and among the government buildings the trend is to plant natives. Woodstea, it would be fun to take some photos and post them. Having sizable budgets for native grasses etc can produce some really spectacular results and I love seeing them planted en masse. Seeing them used downtown swaying in drifts among the skyscrapers is downright modern looking, feels healthy and looks like Oklahoma. Its often quite windy among the buildings and the effect is rather stunning. I get uplifted seeing this but downright depressed seeing the gated thing which is creepy and feels alien.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

This discussion has made me want to put more effort into local sourcing. Has any of you heard of the AOSCA yellow tag certification for seeds? The tag includes information about the location (county and state, elevation) where the seeds were collected. There's a sample tag at the Maryland Master Gardener website below. There's also a video about cultivars of natives and whether it's appropriate to use them (it's the second video -- the first one about natives has a lot of noise, harder to listen to):

https://www.extension.umd.edu/mg/part-7-future

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gribbleton

THAT VIDEO IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEEDED. YESSSSS. She talks so slow, but it's worth the wait..ha. Thank you

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Woods, I have not seen that designation myself. Maybe I missed it. I do know we nearly always spec' PLS-Pure Live Seed-in our seeding projects. That's a little different subject I know.

+oM

ps...............Maybe I'm suspicious by nature but I suspect that by now, folks are gathering seed on "prairie plantings" as opposed to remnant prairies, and calling it local genotype. In fact just a few years ago, a couple guys were going through one of our big projects, collecting Silphium seeds. I can't help but think those seeds ended up in some "Northeastern Wisconsin Local Genotype"! What a crock. Needless to say, I didn't see them in time to totally put an end to their little venture.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

I share your skepticism, though I almost want to accept that gospel. There's something that's appealing about taking a concept to higher and higher levels, like it's not good enough that you're planting natives, but you need to get them from within 100 miles or you'll possibly contribute to the demise of wildlife. But underneath is it just a type of one-up feeling I'm looking for?

It reminds me a little bit of that "Is the chicken local?" scene from the first episode of Portlandia.

I do think though that without a great deal of effort I can switch to nearby native nurseries for most things I want to plant. This seems like a good bio:

http://www.kansasnativeplants.com/about.php


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texasranger2

I've never given thought to this, its just a inner city yard I'm working on after all, not a reclamation site or prairie. That idea is simply too spiraled in for me and frankly, the 100 mile radius idea makes me do an eyeball roll. I've run into a few zealots who think like this. Out of all the many factors that would be needed for recreating a pristine landscape, it seems like they are concentrating on only a couple of rigid nit picking ideas as if it would make their efforts into a result they could call "authentic". I always wonder about things like how they grapple with European honeybees coming in and pollinating their strictly 100 mile radius plants?

If a person wanted to recreate local purity with an idealized idea of replicating an original untouched pristine prairie, its not possible or realistic. The size factor alone would thwart most efforts because many animal and bird species need a vast uninterrupted space to create the balance and conditions for reproducing & thriving. In many cases the soil has been too altered from farming, fertilizer etc to replicate what was once there. Some animals will not even cross a dirt road-- even a dirt or gravel road cuts down their habitat size and will cause their demise --focusing on only local Oklahoma genotype as opposed some Nebraska, Texas or Iowa genotype seems trivial by comparison.

I'm not sure what its like elsewhere in the country but around here there are hundreds of acres that are undeveloped and lots of open wild country side with local genotypes growing. The problem is, its been cut up by being fenced off in sections and cut up in small pieces by country roads compared to when it was one vast open continuous grassland sustaining life. Some areas are being overtaken by cedar trees and in many cases, introduced weedy types of grasses and European weeds exist among the natives.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Well, I try to stay with local stuff, but then I make exemptions ....LOL. I try to stay within the continent with my choices for exceptions. But even there I am hankering after a few things. I guess I should make sure that they can not hanky panky with other stuff. BUT I use this as a guide as I give away my Stipa capillaries to a city dweller. I really do not like fighting grass and this one does seed out easily and I already fighting grass.At least make it a New Mexican grass that I have spreading.

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texasranger2

One way to look at that seed theft business is to think of those two guys as human birds. Maybe a stand of Silphium is now growing elsewhere among a new area of native plantings that was started as a result of seeing how the one you planted looks. Of course, two guys is one thing, hoards of seed gatherers would be quite another but it is a way to spread native plants similar to birds crapping seeds except the bird dropped ones would probably get yanked by most people while weeding. Around here, hoards of people descending on native plants for seed collecting anywhere would be very unlikely, only tiny a minority out of a small minority of weirdos would be interested in Silphium. Most people see "weeds".

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

I definitely haven't come to the point where I'm not going to plant things that are native to some other region of the country but not west-central Missouri. When I've got a choice -- when they ARE native to this area -- I'm going to try and find nearby sources.

Along the south side of my house there's a 4-5 foot wide bed next to the driveway that really heats up in the summer. I've been thinking that I may eventually do some soil replacement to improve the drainage considerably and go with more xeric plants there. If so I'll be looking towards western KS, OK, TX, NM for ideas.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Delightful thread. And just to display the gaping maw that is my mind, I'm not 100% certain so many resources should be devoted to the control of purple loosestrife! That plant has for a long time been pretty much the standard-bearer for all the horrors that are invasive species. Well me....I think it's just about the coolest thing around and went so far recently as digging up some paper where the author took exception to that very war. Among the surprising things he wrote-there's actually not much peer-reviewed literature showing species displacement by PL. And among the references cited in the studies that do exist, a woeful amount of the sources are everything from anecdote to magazine articles! Now on my job, I will continue to faithfully stamp this most beautiful of plants out, After all, that is one of the requirements in the permits. But for my own pond up north......? Hmmm?

I have a theory too that beauty matters. In many ways, it makes a difference if lots of people like how something looks. Somehow in native restoration, we spend an awful lot of time taking the most striking and spectacular plants out! Not always, but too often. Oh, I like the yellow flag iris too, lol!

+oM

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gribbleton

The movies in https://www.extension.umd.edu/mg/part-7-future
were very sobering.

Cultivars are just one big genetic experiment with
regard to how they contaminate the local populations of plants, which
will inevitably change ecology. e won't really know how because
it's too expensive to do that research.

These "native" cultivars are
sold all around the world, to spread their monogenetics there too.
Cultivars don't have genetic diversity at all, while straight native
plants (apparently that's the term for a true native) will have plenty
of genetic diversity (ideally).

Great videos, thanks for posting them.

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texasranger2

Hear hear on the element of beauty wiscon. I mean, who is going to jump on the bandwagon if the plants and over all effect is not beautiful? Each situation is different, there is no one size fits all. Beauty is at the very top of the list of my priorities here, second is water use in summer, third how it will hold up to heat which usually means small leaves or silver ones, fourth structural elements for winter interest, then pollinators as a kind of added extra perk. I'm creating a unified theme of texture for aesthetic purposes as opposed to regional authenticity for authenticities sake, I don't need to know I'm planting only plants that grow locally for whatever reason other people are doing this, my goal is different.

An invasive plant in one place is not an invasive in other places either. For a plant to get the world's worst enemy award like purple loosestrife might be a bit of a broad stroke. There are plants that are invasive here but not elsewhere and vice versa. A woman at Farmer's Market had a small fenced in area with purple loose strife growing in it here in the center of the Metroplex without a lake or river within miles. She was told by the Fish and Wildlife officer to get rid of it or get fined and billed for removal. Maybe it can get carried off for miles by birds or wind? I had another who found some feathers laying on the ground, used them in a collage and entered it in an art show. She was threatened with stiff fines and told to remove it ASAP.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Yeah, that kind of thing just sours me-and I'll bet quite few others-on such initiatives. Maybe because more than half of my job responsibilities involve "native restoration" of a type that isn't even the primary native plant community, I may be highly sensitized to this kind of thing. That plus having seen what for me are improvements in the landscape resulting from the naturalization of a Eurasian species or three. I may have said this here already, but here's another example: Dame's Rocket-Hesperis matronalis-has colonized waste sites all over this area. Many non-plant folks call it Phlox, although while there is a supreficial resemblance, Hesperis flowers are four-petaled, not the five of Phlox species. Additionally, Hesperis blooms earlier in the year. In any case, in almost every situation where one sees Dame's rocket, it is in among such delights as garlic mustard, giant burdock, various thistles, etc. So along comes some native plants person, arms in the air, wondering what we're going to do about all that invasive Dame's Rocket. I just can't get worried about it. First of all, it provides an enormous splash of color where there would otherwise be none, secondly, it's an herbaceous plant, growing in amongst other junk plants. Are we worried that the burdock might be held back? That sort of thing.

Now make no mistake, I easily see the damage of what to me are our worst terrestrial invaders-buckthorn, reed canary grass, garlic mustard. Those species really do destroy sites where they grow. But for one penny to be spent on Dame's Rocket eradication just makes me angry. There's other similar examples. Once in a while a Norway spruce will be found growing in the woods, especially, though not exclusively, in our northern counties. So, non-native, big, imposing tree. What would have been there otherwise? A native white spruce? How would anyone know this? That species represents to me an enhancement of the native flora, and it happens so little. Yet sure enough, some do-gooder folks want each one cut down as it is found. Just ridiculous, if you ask me.

+oM

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

Hmm, texasranger2, that's an interesting list:

1. Beauty

2. Water use in summer

3. Heat tolerance

4. Structure for winter interest

5. Value to pollinators

I'm not sure what my list is but I'd like to give some thought to it. I think the problem is that my priorities shift over time. I do agree that beauty is especially important. I've got to think you'll do more for wildlife if your yard's beauty inspires other people to plant natives, than if you had the most ecologically "correct" yard that looked ugly to people.


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texasranger2


Woods Tea, we are on water rationing 100% of the time here and there are no plans to change that. Unfortunately people are already running their sprinkler systems all over the city to water their grass, must have that lawn and must have fescue if its shaded by (too many--arg) trees which needs to be watered by-weekly. On the whole, the city is quite green, in fact lots and lots of monotonous green and that is a color I avoid for the most part. I see so much water waste going on that its enough to make a person get the hives from disgust and frustration.

I started my landscape during a period of drought after a trip to New Mexico "where even the weeds are pretty" and we have had two more since. In 2011 we had 100+ temperatures for 65 consecutive days, when this happens, we can get up to 120 easily. This plays a big factor in my plant choices and local genotypes don't even work into my radar when I research or look for plants. I'm after plants that look good under extreme stress and duress but will also do well in wetter times. If I had only the typical local Oklahoma plants, my own garden would have looked as bad as the rest of the country side did during these hot dry periods. We are not a low rainfall state by any means, its farmland mostly, not xeric, not considered dry normally. I happen to live on a slope which is-- depending on how you look at it-- hard to water due to run-off or well drained. I choose to think in terms of well drained and I finally looked into SW desert species and other plants not necessarily indigenous to Oklahoma.

The most fun is using the lowliest toughest 'weeds', what you'd typically think of as wasteland plants that are actually pretty when massed in (or isolated from their formerly unattractive trashy surroundings) the tough guys which will grow happily and bloom well ANYWHERE under the most horrid, extreme conditions. I like the visual results of using these over-looked non-useful weeds in ornamental, water saving ways and often choose plants with a bit of ironic humor in the process. I have several natives of what would be called undesirable species--those ones especially hated by farmers and ranchers-- and grow them because of appearance, not necessarily their benefits although time often proves them to be worthy as pollinators too. I'm not drawn to more commonly sold species like echinacea or much of natives commonly sold because they are too green or leafy-looking for my scheme and too expected.

Examples of ones I prefer: locoweed, bitterweed, prickly pear cactus, fetid marigold, hairy golden aster, purple three awn grass, ring muhly grass, sacaton alkali grass, ephedra, Texas beargrass, wild sagebrush, broom snakeweed---stuff you would see happily growing in extremely hostile conditions like the blazing heat in the gravel along a railroad track or other waste environments, many would never be seen in a nursery or seed catalog. Waste areas are my favorite hunting grounds. My landscape is mostly shades of grey's, olive and buff with lots of continuous flower colors--its a theme of 'rangy' plants, subtle color and texture.


It got as hot as 120 degrees summer of 2012, 65 days over 100, twice I relented and did supplemental watering. All unwatered lawns were dead looking with people trying to maintain their gardens with daily or every other day watering just to keep it going, many shrubs and trees died all over the city. When its this hot and dry, its like trying to empty the ocean with a cup to keep it moist.

2013 shot during late summer heat (but not near as bad as 2012)



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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

For where you do your gardening, TR, I'd say you've got it nailed down tight. You and I are in extremely different climactic regions, but I sure do respect the direction you've taken with your stuff. For me, trees are king, but then, they belong here. It's all the non-tree plant communities that drive me to distraction, although I like some of those too. But they're never really "native". One obvious exception-wetlands too wet to allow for tree or even shrub colonization. Those are properly vegetated with sedges, forbs, wet-tolerant grasses.... the whole shebang. But here....before European settlement-was a deep woods, remnants of which can still be seen. Here, the prairie people drive me crazy with their blindered obsession with what would have been only very transient inhabitants of any given site-following windstorm, fire, what have you. Meadows within a woodland vegetation zone are never permanent features of the land, although you'd never know it to hear these folks rattle on. Now just one state south of us-Illinois-really did burn from one end to the other on a near-yearly basis. But even that was anthropogenic, being the work of the plains Indians. All the "native restoration" guys come from IL or southern WI so that is the only paradigm they seem to know. Try to get them to work with trees-all they know then is oak savanna. Hey, I like oak savannas, but again, that's not what we had up here.

+oM

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texasranger2

wiscon, your post reminds me of how irritated I get on Earth Day when people around here start the knee-jerk response of busily planting trees when the ads on TV tell them to do this for the planet. Trees-- the cure-all for what ails the environment, grasslands be damned. If they would consider the region they live in they might use more common sense --your description 'blindered obsession' is just about perfect. The idea of any non tree environment seems to send most people into worry and mental duress, I don't think I am exaggerating to say 99.99999% of people love trees and think the more, the better.

Send those misplaced prairie folk down here, we could use a bit of wisdom like that.

ps-- we have plenty of oxygen in the form of strong winds whipping across the prairies most of the time so the idea that we need trees for air quality is not applicable here. Wind is usually from the south and nearly all the trees out here lean in a definitely noticeable direction. Eastern Oklahoma has heavy rainfall amounts, different terrain and nice straight TREES that are native to the region and actually look good, as if they belong there (which they do), further west trees suck the aquifer dry rather than replenish it like grasses. You can't just make a single rule for a state.

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texasranger2

ITS CHEATING TO CHOOSE A HYBRID ROSE AS YOUR STATE FLOWER. Gee, I can't get past this.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

Weird, huh? I never imagined some states would have a non-native flower -- but it's especially galling that yours was chosen only a decade or so ago.

Here is Missouri we don't exactly have a state flower. We have a state floral emblem, the white hawthorn blossom, which I suppose is to say that it's the visual image of the flower itself and not the species that it grows on. Curious. We also have a state tree (Cornus florida) and a state tree nut (the nut of Juglans nigra), so that's three tree-related symbols and no forbs or grasses.

Back in the day people liked forests more than prairies, I guess.

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texasranger2

I pulled up Missouri. Your state insect is honeybee.

Welcome to "My State's Pride of imported Species & Hybrids". Ours is also honeybee (that figures). Our state butterfly is Black Swallowtail, your's is Mourning Cloak Butterfly.

I saw that in 2007 Big Bluestem was finally designated as your state grass. Looks like they finally got around to it or maybe they just couldn't make up their minds.......... Big Bluestem becomes Missouri states official grass

Just wanted to add I looked into this. Our original state flower adopted in 1893 and made official in 1910 was Mistletoe because it was the only green thing settlers could find to decorate graves when it was still territory. Then in 1986 Gaillardia was adopted as the official state flower since it was thought that a parasite was a bad choice as a state flower. I grew up knowing the mistletoe as our state flower, everyone knew the story about the settlers and their hardships.

Here is the worst part:

Seems the Garden Clubs across the state couldn't get excited about either of these plants and they were the ones to push the change of our state flower to the hybrid tea rose 'Oklahoma'. They had no problem with the fact that it was non native. These Garden Club foo-foo people are the most anti-native plant people I know of and the ones who waste water all in the name of society and keeping up with the Jones's.

This is so typical of mindsets here and that of many gardeners in general. Is it cheating? You bet it is. Its worse than cheating, it ignores history, its irresponsible, self serving and shallow.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Simmer down, Tex! No really, I'm right there with you. What a travesty. That miseltoe thing did crack me up a bit though! Kinda funny. but Gaillardia is perfect. Such a great native plant.

BTW, this reminds me of the great divide in horticulture: I said, and Tex agreed, that "beauty" is important. The hybrid tea rose crowd likes to "make things pretty" and to my way of thinking, that is completely a different animal, and not a very good one. Up with beauty, down with pretty, lol!

+oM

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

Oh right, big bluestem. I knew that but somehow missed it when I was scanning the Missouri list. That's a pretty good pick I think, one with a good sense of natural history and not based on selling something.

Now that you mention Gaillardia I was thinking that still was Oklahoma's state flower. I wonder if perhaps the rose thing will be changed after enough years of drought like you've had recently.

What's the first thing a garden club member says in the morning?

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again."

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I am not secure in my position on native versus non native. Really , I only have my gut to go on, and my gut vacillates depending on the amount of work needed , other factors of personal weakness and which way the wind is blowing... I read many Blogs of people who I respect and they mention studies that follow animal diversity in invasive monocultures and sometimes the result is contrary to what we hear. Salt Tamarisk has many more times the bird and small animal diversity living in it than the native riparian cultures. Does that make me like it better? It is not my problem and I can't speak for it through experience. They same that purple loose strife is also a good thing for animals in wildlife. I can't speak to this either.. Many more fish types are rebounding in water hyacinth clogged Lake Victoria because they gives protection from the nile bass, another introduced out of control species used for fishing industries. I eat that bass every time I see it in the grocery store and tell its story to people in line and they ALWAYS buy that fish. At where do we stop the clock. Horses are being hunted off the plains because they are "non Native" even though there is a bounty of fossil evidence of there being here and migrating over the land bridge. Ginko trees were here too. nature is on the move. Humans with Jet airplanes ,UPS and the internet have made it move that much quicker. It sure is easy to but pretty stuff from all over the world. We are still dealing with stuff brought over by sailing ships. I am told to take out this one thorny clover once used as a cover crop and now it has escaped but it is good for soil improvement and god nows my marly stuff could use some improving. Red clover is listed as a wildflower and it is not but I like it. Sh*t here I go spinning in circles.

One Rancher who's incredible blog I read says the reason why wolves are hard on livestock is because we have removed everything else. He leaves his introduced Aoudads and they do not compete with the prong horned sheep according to evidence at the watering holes. I know, I am off topic. I can't keep flora and fauna separated in my mind.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Wanto, I applaud you in your confusion! And really, flora and fauna are absolutely joined together, so why not think of both in one paragraph. I'm right there with you, and I do this stuff for a living! It just always goes back to one thing with me-each case must be considered on its own merits,such as they are known. Blanket statements mostly come from idealogues, and that's rarely a well-considered opinion.

Don't ya'll kind of wonder where things are going to be in 50 years? 100? 1000? I think the overriding biggest hope I have is that somehow through it all, the earth will still have the capacity to support a varied palette of life forms, and will still be green across large areas.

+oM

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texasranger2

I'd call naming a flower your State Flower a blanket statement. Good point -- rarely a well-considered opinion. That certainly fits the bill.

wantanamara if Texas Garden Clubs exert pressure to choose a non-native hybrid for their official state flower the insecurity in your position of native vs nonnative will most likely prevent you from having a really bad reaction over it so you will be saved any grief if that happens there.

I imagine most of the people in the state of Oklahoma are just fine with this and only a few of us are shocked. How I missed this is beyond me, I must not have been watching the local 5 o-clock news when the big announcement was made. I do remember the Gaillardia Decision when they retold the story about settlers on the plains and mistletoe. By the way, my husband reacted negatively when I told him about it and thought it was ridiculous and typical of local mindsets. We all liked the stories of mistletoe and other hardships experienced by settlers as kids, it made us appreciate things. He saw it as yet one more thing that 'they' find they need to improve and we both are getting jaded by some of the so called improvements in this century.

Just so I know my state history in case I need to pass it on to a visitor, the Oklahoma hybrid tea rose was bred in Ontario California by Swim & Weeks and introduced in 1964 as 'Oklahoma' as part of their 'States' series. Interestingly it is described as "Does not do well in warmer climates" and "requires spring freeze protection'. Seems we will have to coddle this State Flower. I wonder how they fared in the summers of 2011 & 2012? I imagine our State Flower is only growing in formal gardens and well tended landscapes, no chance of it getting out of hand and naturalizing across the state.


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Coddling a state flower that is not even meant for the official state weather.... LOL. The garden clubs would have to work damn hard to knock the Blue bonnet out of contention here in the lodestar state. We are invested in the Bluebonnet.. I think it has a virtual lock on the prize.

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texasranger2

The point is that its about which mindsets are prevailing, its about attitudes and who has power of persuasion over policies, Mara. Calling it a state flower is a small issue really. This sort of thing represents a much wider picture, thats why its upsetting. Don't get too smug. You never know what prevailing attitude will exert power in Texas down the road.

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TxMarti(8a DFW)

This is such an interesting discussion, and one I've been thinking about myself lately. The one that has me divided is the dwarf yaupon, though it is widely used and I have never seen it in a nearby nature trail. I did find bastard cabbage out there last week and pulled up every one I saw.

I too began to eliminate non-natives after a trip to New Mexico where the native landscape was lovely, and most of all not a lot of yard work. A forest of trees around every house tends to do that I guess. And while there are a lot of native trees I could plant here, I am restricted by septic tank and lines. So while my neighborhood would be crowded with trees if left in it's native state, plumbing wouldn't function and people couldn't live in the houses. So it's a trade off.

That's funny, and sad, about the Oklahoma state flower. There was, and probably still is, a billboard on I35 near Waxahachie, TX that proclaims Waxahachie as the Crape Myrtle capital of Texas, and a picture of Lagerstroemia indica, not Malpighia glabra.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

as a gardener I have "ideals" about native planting and I must admit I fall short of my not stringently held ideals all the time. I was not born to be a purest or fundamentalist in any aspect of my life. I eat very healthy food but I am not a food nazi.( oh man, I misspelled Nazi and it came up Gnats in spell check). I don't know what drives my decision. I just brought home Mexican Frost weed and I have native frost weed about 400' from where I am planting this. Bees and butterflies love this also. The gardener that I got it from has seen no cross fertilization on his property. I also brought nome a Mexican Mahonia that grows HUGE if happy. I actually live closer to these plants native habitat (5 hours drive) than I do to the native Kansa 4'oclock that I just planted out in my prairie area. Just an international border between them. Plant swaps are dangerous places where the "I wants" take over the "I shoulds" and trounce them to smitherines.

I do put things out and then when their behavior starts to alarm me , I do react. I think having the consciousness about the natural processes and dangers is a huge step forward in our gardening. For so long ones garden was a personal space that was purely about individual rights, personal kingdom and artistic expression. It was a realm of its own , separate and defended about any questioning from the outside but who's taste was driven by the market norms, and now many people are beginning to see their garden as part of the natural ecosystem. It is a part of a much bigger system. That alone is a gargantuan step.

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TxMarti(8a DFW)

"now many people are beginning to see their garden as part of the natural ecosystem"

You are so right.

And also right about plant swaps, which is where a lot of my recent non-natives came from. I told myself a year or so ago that henceforth, I wouldn't add anything except natives, and that just hasn't happened.

I also think that as good as the usda plant database is, it isn't 100% accurate. I know there are plants I have seen on fairly undisturbed ranchland in my county that isn't on the database, yet they are listed on surrounding counties. Just makes sense that they are native here.

I'm also positive that at one time vitex was listed as a Texas native on a reputable website, but it isn't now. I remember checking it before I planted the last one no more than 10 years ago.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Marti, couldn't agree with you more regarding USDA Plants Database. I use that thing several times a week, yet I have found discrepancies wherein I simply know I'm right and they're wrong! I've even submitted updates to them and had them accepted, which is kind of cool.

Wanto, likewise, your statements make a great deal of sense. To wit: I've become interested in growing haskap bushes on land I own in N.E. Wisconsin. If you're not familiar with this exciting "new" fruit-bearing shrub, you can look it up-I think it's going to be big-but my point is, it's a honeysuckle! Now, various Asian and Eurasian honeysuckles are among the worst invasive shrubs we have around here. And this one is relished by birds, so do the math! It could easily escape into the wild, methinks. But....and this is huge in my mind....the species is native to just N. of Lake Superior in S. Ontario, so that's really close to where mine will be grown. That makes a difference to me. Also, we want this fruit, so bird netting will be employed, lol, but I'm sure you get my point-these plants, while not a part of the official Wisconsin flora, are native to an area very near to us, and again, that makes a difference in the equation, IMO.

+oM

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

After reading the above I looked a little more closely at the USDA Plants Database site and see that you can zoom in on the maps for county level data. I'd never taken the time to figure this out, so the maps weren't too interesting to me showing data only at the state level.

Do any of you use BONAP? According to them their data is more up to date than what the USDA has:

http://bonap.org/BONAP-PLANTS/BONAPvsPLANTS.html

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Very interesting. I like their soil maps but I am still clueless how to research a plant after a quick perusal.. I am one of those who do not see the obvious in a site. I will figure it out. BUT I did get the USDA slider to magnify the counties right after they changed the format. I was real proud of myself. True the pride came after a string of curse words because they had changed how they did it before. I guess I will have to tear my hair out on this sight figuring it out. I am neither scientific or computer savvy. Good thing for a late night.

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WoodsTea 6a MO(6a)

In the process of buying/planting this spring I've been trying to distance myself a little bit from the non-cultivar-natives-only mentality, which was starting to feel like a straitjacket. At this point my main goal is to get more of the currently bare beds planted and make them look reasonably nice. I'm out of time for endlessly researching natives, so I'm relying more on things like the perennial of the year lists and books like Roy Diblik's "The Know Maintenance Perennial Garden" for suggestions. I'm trying to keep it at least 75% natives and avoid anything known to be invasive. I figure that later on as my gardens start to mature, I'll have time to consider whether there are native plants that could be swapped in for some of the other stuff.


One of my main motivations for this is the possibility of moving at some point in the next so many years. Until recently I figured that I could develop the gardens slowly over a decade or more, but I might not have time for that with this particular yard.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

I get where you're coming from, WoodsTea. I do that sort of thing myself. Heck, I go right off the natives map on occasion. Right now, I'm planning to acquire some wood betony-Stachys officinalis (depending on which source you're looking at) which is not even native in any sense of the word, but which is a great pollinator attractant, a well-behaved plant, and offers months of blooming time each summer. And yes, it is a cultivar I'm after-'Hummelo', which offers the combination of aesthetic attributes and easy performance I seek. so definitely not a natives-only purist here. I think there's room for both approaches.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Humelo never bloomed for me. I have S. coccinea a native of texas.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

It is possible that it is more suited to cooler zones. A botanical garden about one hundred miles to my south has good displays of that cultivar-enough for me to bite. This is just for at home for now. I've got a fence I like to trial perennials out along before "going big" with them for the city. And I do believe, this could be a real winner. Remember me gushing over Agastache, and how it never survives the winter here? This is a reasonable facsimile of that effect for me-a spike of color atop the foliage, but likely a much better winter survivor. BTW, the 'Golden Jubilee' type of Agastache does survive the winters here....too much so, in fact. the way those things seed all over the place, pretty soon that's all you've got. But I'm talking about the more dry-land types and they suffer terribly in our wet and cold falls. I think 'Hummelo' is going to do great things for me/us. Time will tell.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Wis, most likely the case. I had it in partshade close to the grey water outlet. I got nice green leaves for 5 years. I sent it off to North Carolina mountains.

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texasranger2

My garden is on a city lot. Can you think of a situation less naturally occurring? I have no problem with certain cultivars or natives from surrounding states that are not indigenous to Oklahoma. Cultivars such as the various switch grasses are preferable, other plants I like for different reasons are from across the ocean such as a recently acquired ephedra from Mongolia that I'm enthralled with, blue fescue, Mediterranean plants such as rosemary, Jerusalem Sage & others.

It seems ridiculous to adopt a rigorist approach and try to accurately recreate a 'correct' native area nestled in a sea of lawns (eyeball roll). My goal is visual appeal, saving water but mostly having fun with my little lawn-less native-ish island among conventional city lots with lawns. I like experimenting by trying out natives that aren't in the nursery trades to see how they work out, its much more fun that hitting the books and the charts to make sure I am in the right on my selections.

Making the leap to go totally lawn-less is daunting in the beginning. My priority was not an attempt to follow some chart or list of plants indigenous to a certain radius around where I live. The goal was to make it interesting, attractive, no chemical or endless watering and to give me more gardening space. Its very easy to create a jungle or overgrown unkempt looking mess. Thats the challenge.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

So true, TR, and there's many, many non-native but non-problematic species that do support significant bee and other pollinator numbers, and so on. But yeah, context is everything here.

+oM

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TxMarti(8a DFW)

TR said: "It seems ridiculous to adopt a rigorist approach and try to accurately recreate a 'correct' native area nestled in a sea of lawns (eyeball roll). My goal is visual appeal, saving water but mostly having fun with my little lawn-less native-ish island among conventional city lots with lawns"

Wisconsitom: But yeah, context is everything here.

I can only speak for myself, and not being a regular member here, I don't know if this is a forum for those who ONLY plant natives. If it is, I'm in the wrong place as I do have non-natives and will keep and propagate those that thrive without my help.

But I started going with natives for two reasons, number one being less work and less expense for me. I figure Mother Nature put certain plants in my little part of the world because that is what will thrive here. If they can live on land that is completely untended, they are the plants I want. Sure, I can buy non-natives that will probably do well here too, but it's the probably that makes me hesitate. I'm tired of spending time and money on plants that aren't really suited to my soil and climate and so require more water we get with our rain cycles. I even hesitate over plants that are native to other parts of Texas because that is unknown.

Reason two is that I like the look of the natural landscape and would like to see it in my yard when all the area around here is built with cookie houses and yards of boxwood and knockout roses. Even the nature walk area near me has bastard cabbage popping up in it. It won't be long before it shades out many of the native wildflowers I go there to see.

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texasranger2

I love this Gaillardia suavis. This is about as opposite as it gets from the fancy hybrids bred from native species in the quest for bigger double flowers like some of the ones I've seen appearing in the echinacea and gaillardia category. These rayless flowers look modernistic in my opinion and am already picturing several coming up through my little swath of Mexican Feather Grass. I also like the name perfumeballs. In reality it smells sweet & sharp like cheap perfume but who cares? This is my first year growing these native Okies which I got from a chance grouping of them I found going to seed in a mowed soccer field last year. They've got 2ft stiff stems with bright orange balls on the tops coming up from a small flat rosette of leaves at ground level. Simple and elegant. Why would anyone want to improve on this? The balls are bright orange making them quite visible and they turn and move often as the day goes on as if they are checking out things, sometimes up, sometimes down, sometimes they look right at you.

I'm with you marti, I like a natural landscape too. I'm working on extending my prairie grasses.


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have a couple of blooming plants from the ones you sent and a bunch of babies. Nicely formed rosettes on them too.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Today, I just planted some Dallas switch grass in a clayey area that I have. I hope it likes it. Clay is an acquired taste for plants. They say it will do clay. I added a bunch of leaf compost from under the oak and cedar trees to the soil, but that is it.. Planting grass in grass. Watch it disappear. I just hope that they get larger than who is there to give it some variation.The Sacaton wrightii is still growing that I planted out in fall. Getting bigger all the time..... We have a line of storms moving in. I always feel the plants will make it if their planting is followed by a storm. I was out trying to find spots and it was all filled by the gaillardia plants almost ready to bloom from the seed that you sent TR. Your garden is growing a bit south of you LOL.

It is interesting , The rules that I have. I plant hardy plants from anywhere as long as the hose can reach them. That is the cut off point. Beyond that , it is natives . I get too stretch that by saying, natives to SOMEWHERE not to far away. Maybe One days drive.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Marti, your ethos sounds virtually identical to those of many of us regulars here. Not that this is some kind of hive mind going here-anything anyone else wants to say or do is legit. But your basic approach sounds eerily similar to that of many of us.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Here is the one in my garden.




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texasranger2

Lol, looks like the point I was trying to make got missed, I wasn't posting the picture as a show and tell. Seeing the simplicity of G. suavis made me rethink some more about this topic of varieties bred from natives, we sort of got off in other directions in discussion. Often the character and wildness is so completely bred out that the resulting plants look and behave like bedding plants rather than natives. People often complain they don't survive but I was thinking more along the lines of character & visual changes. I see it quite often with the popular varieties showing up in the trades with the fancy gaillardia and echinacea offered.

I pulled these examples offline from seed companies. They no longer even resemble gaillardias at all to me. Not only is it cheating, its something that seems not native anymore to my way of thinking and I wonder if they can be considered native. I don't feel this way about all plants bred from natives, some improvements are acceptable.


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TxMarti(8a DFW)

That is a pretty gaillardia.

Oops, looks like we were posting at the same time. I meant the Gaillardia suavis.

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texasranger2

That was funny. I think its pretty too, the breeds look cramped and over-cooked with stumpy stems.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

OOPs, I did get the point but strayed off topic because I was digging in the dirt and that makes my mind bouncing out the window wandering FAR A FIELD.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Well, one thing I can say with some certainty is that when normally single-flowered species are messed with to produce a cultivar with double flowers, the usefulness of that plant to pollinating insects is often eliminated. What's more-and this is just personal taste-I find most doubled flowers less visually appealing than single types. So take your Echinaceas, Rudbeckias, and right around one thousand other common native forbs, peruse the catalog of the fancy outlet, and see all the doubled up and even tripled up nonsense....and move on! Even roses strike me that way. Give me that Rosa caroliniana or palustris, with their wide-open, single pink blooms-any day over some overwrought hybrid tea, or even 'Knockout', good lord.

+oM

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texasranger2

Question. Are the named native grasses being marketed such as Little Bluestem 'The Blues' or Blue Grama 'Blonde Ambition' cultivars or are they naturally occurring selections of these grasses selected for their coloring, habit, height etc? Sometimes I read about a grass being discovered in the wild and then it is given a name and marketed. I have several named varieties of BS and they come true from seed and look exactly like the parents with the exception of a misfit every now and then.

I suspect the various Switch Grasses are cultivars but I'm not sure. For a typical yard they are more sane than the native species which gets very large in diameter and would soon overwhelm an average garden situation although in the wild its dramatic to see a mature clump, especially when backlit by late evening sun.

I don't have the same problem with the grasses that I have with the foo-fooed forbs because they look like what you see in the wild only somewhat nicer. I especially like seeing them being marketed since it opens up interest in native grasses as ornamental alternatives hopefully replacing the over planting of alien species like Miscanthus. Living here in the grasslands it sets my teeth on edge to see so much Miscanthus being used ornamentally as if its the only choice people ever think of, seems everyone chooses it as the #1 ornamental grass of choice. Enough already.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Just give the the plant breeders time. I bet they get some real wonky grasses in time. They are just priming the market with these conservative varieties.

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wisconsitom(Zone 4/5)

Tex, if my understanding is correct, a simple selection can indeed be taken to be a cultivar. Not the only route to that designation, of course, but one means of arriving at that point. Some will prefer the more accurate, or at least descriptive terms of "land race" or "strain", but I think these selections are indeed offered as cultivars.

In any case,I think your words make sense. And for me and about ten million other gardeners, I suspect a lesser ultimate height is an important attribute for home or small-scale garden bed use. A very tall plant-regardless its type-usually looks wrong in a smallish bed. So at the very least, new introductions offering shorter ultimate height offer something real for the gardener to work with. So think I.

+oM

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I find the game of smearing the origins , weather a named cultivar is a hybrid derived by man's hanky-panky or a found variation irritating. If one watches plant descriptions, they will change their story for unknown reasons through the years. Me , who has a suspicious mind, is only to happy to fill in that blank. I have watched "Blonde Ambition" go from being a amazing found strain from the Albuquerque area to a hybrid. Both had TM on them. a TM on a found strain protects the name , right? but a TM on a hybrid protects the right of sale of propagation , right? This has also gotten munged with Pink Flamingo Muhly, Whichita Solidago and others of David Salmans plants. I find honesty admirable and dishonesty irritating. I also would like to know the truth about my plant. My right to that rubs up against their right to their control over the product of their work, wether that was a result of gathering seed in a mountain valley or in their glass house. If I buy something because I thought it was a natural variation and it wasn't, i was being manipulated. If someone say that it is a man made hybrid and it is not, then he/she is lying about his/her intellectual property to gain more rights over product. The issue does not really effect my actions. I will still divide my clump of grass and collect my seed if I choose to make more plants for myself (and my friends).

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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

If you study the 'history' of these plant selections you can learn a lot. 'Blonde Ambition' is not a hybrid - it was discovered as a sport of Bouteloua gracilis `Hatchita`, found in a New Mexico garden, propagated asexually and after 6 generations, was found to be a stable form and a patent applied for. Sports are natural occurrences - no human hanky-panky involved - and are the source of many named cultivars of both native and non-native plants.

TM - trademark - only protects the right to use that name. A patent controls the right to propagation. Patents can be applied for and received on any sort of 'new' plant, whether discovered as a naturally occurring sport or witch's broom (which typically are only propagated asexually to assure an exact clonal duplicate) or a manmade hybrid. Generally, propagating a patented plant from seed is NOT restricted as the offspring are seldom true to type.

Part of the confusion is the use of terminology that is not accurate (whether by hybridizers, growers or sellers) and how these plants come to market. FWIW, pretty much any non-patented plant can be trademarked under whatever name you want......if you are willing to pay for it. It is just a marketing practice to give a plant a higher perceived value than it might present. But the majority of trademarked plants are also patented - the patent name is their true botanical name; the trademarked name is their marketing name. For example, Lavender Twist redbud carries the patent name Cercis canadensis 'Covey' (the true botanical name). 'Covey' is the registered cultivar name - Lavender Twist is the registered/trademarked name and should not be presented in single quotes.

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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

I have seen the description of these plants change through the years and return back to more of what they started at., but with language that is a bit ambiguous.

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texasranger2

Given the choice of collecting seed or digging along the side of the road as opposed to purchasing a plant, no matter who gets the credit or financial benefit, I am happy to find native plants available for sale. The people doing the labor should make a living so I'm OK with that.

I ordered the Los Lunas bluestem strain from High Country Gardens. The Los Lunas Plant Materials Center has developed about 25 grasses for revegetation & erosion prevention, it looks to me like they are working on good things. These bluestems I bought have traits very desirable and I just ordered two more to begin a massed planting from starter plants.

I thought the huge strain of Sacaton wrightii they developed for windbreaks was fascinating but the three I tried out were too big for my particular situation, the unimproved strain is a better fit but the idea of an improved strain doesn't bother me. Improvements on grasses is often done for practical reasons like developing the best strains for specific areas of the country, like Nebraska vs Kansas vs New Mexico since different areas recommend different strains as for best performance.

Native grasses such as improved cultivars of buffalo grass are being developed for marketing as turf grass and I am 100% for that. Habiturf is a mixture of native grasses developed by The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center but I don't know if that involves improved strains or not. It appears that a lot of research, development & improvements of native grasses is done in Michigan and Nebraska as well.

I've always been confused about cultivars, trademarks, strains or biological engineering and am not a botany expert, just a consumer but it seems like the nursery business has different goals than the places working on developing improved strains of native grasses although I might be wrong about that. The native grass research and development simply seems more geared toward ecology & conservation while cultivars of flowering plants seems motivated by profit, popularity, sales and pleasing customers.


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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Oh, There making money on their labors is not what bothers me it is the sometimes unclear statements about the provenance.

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agardenstateof_mind(USDA 7 NJ)

Mt. Cuba Center in Delaware is currently conducting two research project in which they will be looking at whether cultivars of native plants (or nativars, as some call them) are any more or less attractive to and nutritious for our wildlife and their value in supporting food webs.

Here's more info if you'd like to look into it (and Mt. Cuba is a delightful place to visit if you're in the area): http://www.mtcubacenter.org/horticultural-research/ecological-research-1/research-partnerships

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