As you start shopping for plants this spring, please emphasize regional native plants that support your local ecosystem.  That sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s actually a bit more complicated.   Sometimes the only native plants you can find are native cultivars, not open-pollinated, “straight species” natives.  These native cultivars are often referred to as “nativars.”

For those of you who are newer to gardening, here is an example.  The straight species of Purple Coneflower is Echinacea purpurea.  Echinacea purpurea ‘Magnus’ is a cultivar, a plant that has been selected by man for certain traits and propagated to keep those traits.

Why does this distinction matter?  For one thing genetic diversity is the foundation for biodiversity, which is the foundation for healthy ecosystems.  Open-pollinated, straight

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