Sustain Our Ecosystem

Perennials and grasses native to Cape Cod and the Atlantic coastal pine barrens eco-region are currently available at our Annual Plant Sale, held every May at the Cape Cod Fairgrounds.

Native plants are plants that have been growing in our habitat and region for thousands of years. Sometimes called indigenous, they are well adapted to the climate, light, and soil conditions of our particular ecosystem. They have also evolved to cope with our indigenous insects, fungi, and diseases. Within this system, they have evolved important co-evolutionary relationships with the other plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria present, and these very complex relationships keep our ecosystem stable. Non-native plants may not produce the fruits and seeds that support our wildlife.

Why native plants? In recent years researchers like Dr. Douglas Tallamy of the University of Delaware have done studies showing the important role of native plants in sustaining our ecosystems. Dr. Tallamy summarizes his years of extensive research with the conclusion that “native ornamentals support twenty-nine times the biodiversity of alien ornamentals.” He also notes, our native insects are not to be feared, because in a balanced ecosystem, they nibble small enough portions of the plants available so that we hardly notice their presence. These diverse moths and butterflies serve to pollinate our plants and provide food and shelter for birds and other fauna in our ecosystem so they are the basis of a stable ecosystem.

Cape Cod Cooperative Extension native plant sale