Native and Invasive Plants
Native grass and wildflowers are increasingly used in gardens and landscaping because of the ease of care, beauty, and natural habitat for pollinators. They also provide great water quality benefits due to the deep root systems and ability to infiltrate stormwater runoff. Once established native plants require minimal maintenance. Native plants are those plants that occur naturally in a region (pre-European settlement). As such, they are well adapted to the soils, climate, and weather of the location and typically do not require supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticide treatment once they are established. During the first few years of establishment, however, the removal of invasive species from newly planted areas may be required.
Learn more about Superior's Native Lawn Ordinance here.
Benefits of Native Plants:
- Low Maintenance: Once established, native plants do not require lawn maintenance equipment, watering, fertilizing, or pesticides, making the space healthier for people, pets, and wildlife.
- Native plants have root systems that reach deep for water, giving them the ability to survive drought conditions.
- The traditional suburban lawn has, on average, 10x more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland.
- Save Money: Native plants are perennial and grow back every year, so they don’t need to be replaced. Because they spread, you may even be able to give some away to friends and family!
- Beauty: Many native plants have beautiful showy flowers, produce abundant colorful fruits and seeds, and have brilliant seasonal changes in leaf color.
- Provide Habitat: Bees, butterflies, birds and other wildlife in the region evolved alongside these plants and use their nectar, pollen and seeds.
- Research by entomologist Doug Tallamy shows that native oak trees support over 500 species of caterpillars while ginkgos, a popular cultivated species, host only 5 species of caterpillars.
- Stabilize Shoreline: Extensive root systems of native plants (see image below) slow down waves, reduce soil erosion along the shore, and absorb dirty runoff before it gets into the water.
- Clean Water: Extensive root systems of native plants help rain water and snow melt (stormwater) soak into the soil, decrease soil compaction and flooding, and filter out pollutants.
- Invasive plants are not native to a particular area and capable of causing harm to ecosystems outside their normal range [Not all nonnative species are harmful. Corn is a nonnative whose introduction has been very beneficial. The term “invasive” is reserved for the most aggressive nonnative species capable of changing sites or living conditions for the worse where they establish].
- Invasive plants can quickly out-compete native species because they are often tolerant of a variety of environmental conditions and especially disturbed soils, grow and reproduce rapidly, and lack natural enemies or pests. When Invasive plants take over an area, they degrade habitat by decreasing diversity and severing the food web.
- How are invasive species spread?
- Carrying seeds of invasive plants on footwear, car or bike tire treads, or pet’s fur
- Mowing along roadsides
- Moving firewood from one area to another
- Moving watercrafts and fishing gear from waterbody to waterbody without removing invasive plants and animals
- Seeds are carried by the wind or water
Learn to identify these common invasive plants, and you can help slow the spread of invasive species (species listed in bold are the most aggressive ones).
- Common Buckthorn (pictured top left)
- Garlic Mustard (pictured middle right)
- Bush Honeysuckle (pictured bottom right)
- Purple loosestrife
- Common Tansy
- Birdsfoot Trefoil
- Reed canary grass
Check out the DNR's Play.Clean.Go. website to learn how you can help stop the spread of Invasive species.