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Native > Useful

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Dennis Ohligschlager, Eureka


In his letter to the NCJ, Mr. Driscoll suggests that he adheres to a mistaken belief that there is very little difference environmentally between non-native and native plants (Mailbox, Jan. 24). The research of scientists, such as Douglas Tallamy, the author of the book Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants, provides evidence that this is simply not true. Native plants, unlike non-native plants, have co-evolved with native insects, animals, birds and other living creatures over thousands of years and interact with one another in ways not possible with non-natives.

A local example of co-evolution is the wool carder bee (Anthidium palliventre). This solitary dune bee uses the plant hairs on our native beach buckwheat to line its nest. Another example is our native willow trees. According to the site NativePlantFinder, more than 328 species of caterpillars feed on the leaves of this tree. This is important because birds almost entirely depend on soft, nutritious caterpillars to feed their young. Tallamy notes that by comparison non-native ginko trees host, at best, one or two caterpillars. Baby birds need to eat hundreds of caterpillars in order to successfully fledge. 

While I have appreciated the beauty of native plants for decades, it was not until I saw a YouTube video of a presentation by Tallamy shown at a California Native Plant Society event that I realized how important native plants are for the diversity and health of all life on our planet. 

Nancy Ihara, Arcata


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