Senecio keniodendron, a plant native to Mount Kenya. Photo by Rhett A. Butler By Jeremy Hance
Native plants are plant species that are indigenous to a particular ecosystem, region, or nation. They are particularly evolved to the region's climatic and ecologic conditions. They are dubbed 'native' to contrast them with foreign plant species that have been transported to the region for agriculture or ornamental gardening as well as invasive species. For example, a native plant in North America generally refers to a species that was present before the arrival of Columbus.
Many of the world's animals, from insects to mammals, depend on native plants for survival. In turn, native plants often use animals to help disperse their seeds. Since plants are also adapted to local conditions, they often produce specific ecosystem services necessary to maintain a healthy environment, such as protecting soil and cleaning water. Native plants are also often hardier and less-resource intensive.
A number of groups and organizations have been created to support native plant propagation.
Redwood forest in California. Photo by Rhett A. Butler
Some well-known plants and where they are native:
Giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) from the California Sierra Nevadas
Iceplant (Carpobrotus edulis) from South Africa
African oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) from West Africa
Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) from the Southeastern U.S.
The mushroom-shaped dragon blood trees are the Socotra islands' most famous plants. Photo by: Fabio Pupin.
Dragon's blood tree (Dracaena cinnabari) from the Socotra archipelago
Corpse flower (Rafflesia arnoldii) from Sumatran and Borneo