What is a "Native Plant"?

In celebration of native plants, we’ve partnered with American Beauties Native Plants to help Growit! Community members showcase the beauty and benefits of planting natives.  Check out @growittheplantcommunity Q&A for your chance to win Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) to attract pollinators to your yard!

The term “native” plant is popular among gardening communities, but many gardeners still either find it hard to define, or they confuse the definition. The U.S. Forest Service defines native plants as: “All indigenous, terrestrial, and aquatic plant species that evolved naturally in an ecosystem.” While the term “native” refers to an ecosystem, it is often used to describe plants within a given geographic area, primarily native by state, or more generally, native to the U.S. In the U.S., plants are considered native if they existed before European settlement. Plants introduced from outside the U.S. are called exotic plants.

Native plants thrive in their respective ecosystem, creating a beautiful landscape and sustaining a variety of wildlife. These plants are well-adapted to a region’s climate and soil conditions, and require little human care for their maintenance or well-being. Native plants promote biodiversity and overall are important for building sustainable landscapes. Native plants offer many environmental benefits, making them a staple for gardens.

American Beauties Native  defines natives plants as: “straight species and their cultivars, with cultivars being selections of straight species that have not been hybridized with other species’. A cultivar is a plant that has been selected and cultivated because of some unique quality it has such as: disease resistance, cold hardiness, height, flower form or color. Sometimes interesting varieties are found in nature and brought into cultivation making them cultivated varieties or cultivars”.

To explore more native plants, check out American Beauties’ Native Plant Catalog.

Illinois Native Plants from left to right: Black-Eyed Susan, Woodland Phlox, and Prairie Smoke