Native Plants and Local Provenance

Are you planting Native Plants because you want to help the environment and wildlife? 

If yes read the following before purchasing any native plants

Most customers plant native plants in an effort to help the environment. If it's truly the environment we are trying to look after why not start by conserving local biodiversity (literally) by choosing local provenance native plants? What does local provenance mean?

On your gardening journey or your bush walks through different natural areas you may have noticed certain native plant species appear to have many different characteristics/forms/habit/leaf shape etc. Maybe one site you visited had a Grevillea juniperina population with yellow flowers while the next site in another location had a population of Grevillea juniperina with a majority red flowering? This may be because of Darwinism.

Why are there differences between plant populations?

Lets look at this hypothetical example: within native plant ranges you have sometimes many different plant populations. A particular plant population (let's call it Population A) may be growing in a location that gets high rainfall & has richer soil. These environmental factors promote leaf characteristics to have larger leaves with larger surface areas, leaves are darker green wanting to absorb more sunlight. A different population in the opposite direction (let's call them Population B) is growing in much harsher environmental conditions. Population B is growing in a Westerly aspect, occurs in a rain-shadow, thus is in a more exposed drier position and in poorer soils. The leaves for population B are smaller with smaller surface area to prevent water loss through transpiration, the leaves are fleshier covered in white hairs to store moisture (like a succulent) and to deflect sunlight. Same species (currently) but both Populations A and B with time have evolved to their immediate localities.

Eventually population A and B may become 2 separate species in the future. Ever wondered how we currently have 900 species of Eucalyptus? Hopefully in a very simplistic way, that question has now been answered!

By un-naturally mixing populations you risk losing the potential for new species occurring. Some may already be different species unknown to science! More than this, we know that different populations of the same species have different suites/numbers of endophytic organisms that occur within them. Plant endophytes in a very simplistic example are much like the gut bacteria living within us. From one person to another the gut bacteria species/populations are different! Same thing with plant populations thus we are risking even more than just the loss of potential plant species!

A common argument for mixing populations is Global Warming/Climate Change. Whilst we consider Global Warming to be a serious issue we feel mixing populations is not the answer, especially if local biodiversity is going to be lost (unique forms/subspecies/species/endophytic dependents). There are many other ways we can address the impacts of Global Warming/Climate Change as well as addressing the root cause of this human induced climate shift without sacrificing unique local biodiversity. There are many more arguments for mixing populations (pollinators/inbreeding) yet both we feel it's still imperative that we continue to protect and promote local provenance. We are protecting natural history.

What can be done if you can't find local provenance? 

Choosing local provenance safe species is another option until the species you are after in the form of local provenance becomes available. For example, you want a sedge Juncus usitatus for your pond but you can't find anyone selling local provenance Juncus to your area, so what can you do? A good option might be to substitute Juncus (for the moment) with a species call Ficinia nodosa particularly if you're in Western Sydney. Ficinia takes on the role of Juncus, it looks similar but best of all cannot cross breed with local Juncus usitatus that may be around. Contact us for help with this and choosing local provenance plants or provenance safe plants for your area. 

Will you join us on our conservation mission?

Happy Growing!

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