Sunday, April 26, 2009

California Natives

So recently I've realized that most people I come into contact with are not as excited about California plants as I am. That's fine, but it started me thinking about why I am interested in them, and why other people should at least have a passing interest in them.

There is a non-profit called Terralingua that works to preserve cultural, linguistic and biological diversity. It was founded on the idea that "there is an inextricable link between cultural and biological diversity." Their idea is that indigenous cultures are tied to the places where they have evolved, and therefore have a connection to the flora and fauna of their home and a stake in conserving it. So by preserving indigenous cultures, you help to preserve nature.

I was born and raised here in California, and can remember my dad pointing out plants and animals to me on hikes and camping trips. I feel very connected to this place and it's geography, plants and animals. And many of the plants and animals here are unique to California and the surrounding regions. Most people are often inspired by the redwoods, sequoias or California condor. But there are many other things to appreciate here as well.

And if you aren't moved by a sense of place, California native plants have a practical purpose. If you do have an area to landscape or garden, they need less water, attract more birds and bees, and can be incredibly beautiful. Don't get me wrong, I'm by no means a purist. Our front yard is about 50% native and some natives I wouldn't recommend because they look like giant weeds -see yampah, the host plant for the anise swallowtail butterfly- or are otherwise not really something you want in your yard. But many like the different types of ceanothus, manzanita and artemisia (sagebrush) are beautiful and require little or no summer water.

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