Dr. Dickstein on the Importance of Native Plants | College of Science

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May 5, 2020

Dr. Dickstein on the Importance of Native Plants

Dr. Rebecca Dickstein of UNT Biological Sciences celebrated Earth Day last week by sharing her knowledge of native plants with UNT's We Mean Green Fund:

Planting native Texas plants is important for four reasons:

First, they help sustain native North American bird and insect species. Many native Texas plants have been lost as land has been developed for agriculture and residential/business landscaping purposes. This leaves species like the Monarch butterfly, native bees that pollinate crops, other important insects and native birds that depend on insects as their food source high and dry. We can assist these vital parts of our ecosystems by deliberately planting native Texas plants.

Second, native Texas plants are well adapted to our weather conditions here. Many native Texas plants have evolved strategies to survive our searing hot summers and periods of drought. They will thrive when imported, but exotic plants will wither.

Third, native Texas plants remind us that we are in Texas. What better way to honor our Texas heritage, whether we are native Texans ourselves or Texas is our adopted state, than to keep our landscape looking like Texas? We have gorgeous plants that thrive in North Texas with little care because this is where they are from.

Fourth, native Texas plants are beautiful. What could be prettier than Golden Groundsel in a shady nook with its bright yellow blooms and Texas Bluebonnets in a sunny lawn in spring; Lantana, Gregg Sage and Turk's Cap in summer; Hill Country Aster and Beautyberry in fall; and Possumhaw Holly and Little Bluestem in winter? Check out some of the resources associated with these pages to find the native Texas plant that is right for you.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center offers a comprehensive database of wildflowers in North America so you can search and read about all of the wildflowers you encounter. You can also search through Texas A&M's plant database to learn about what plants are best suited for where you live.