About Native Plants

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Jack-in-the-pulpit - Arisaema triphyllum

At Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, native plants are central to our mission and to all of our activities. They serve as an impetus for responsible land stewardship and offer a pleasurable way for each of us to reconnect with nature. 

No matter how small, all plants play a valuable role in our lives.

Examples of native plants abound at the Preserve, where you'll find nearly 800 species of trees, shrubs, vines, perennial wildflowers and ferns native to Pennsylvania.

Many Pennsylvania natives also are native to the nearby Mid-Atlantic States, such as New Jersey, Delaware, and even farther afield.


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Mistflower - Conoclinium coelestinum

What is a Native Plant?

Native plants are those plants that grew in a defined region prior to European settlement. In the Delaware River Valley region, where Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve is located, Europeans settled here in the 1600's. Native plants have evolved over thousands of years to be adapted to this area and to the other living creatures around them.

Non-native plants are those plants that were brought to the area by human activity, whether accidentally or purposefully. Throughout the settlement of our region, people brought the seeds of plants from their homelands, some of which have since spread into the wild. These plants are considered naturalized non-natives. Invasive non-native plants are those plants that have escaped into the wild and are destroying the native plants and ecosystems around them.

Why are Native Plants Important?

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Redbud - Cercis canadensis

Economic Values

  • Native plant biodiversity allows for the opportunity to discover new medicines to cure human ailments.
  • Plants are sources of genetic and raw materials that are used to diversify agricultural and industrial products.
  • For the homeowner, native plants are adapted to local conditions and thus require less fertilizer, pesticides, maintenance and watering than non-native landscape plants.
  • Natives have a greater survivability than non-native ornamentals.
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American basswood - Tilia americana

Ecological Values

  • Native plants convert the sun's energy into food; thus they are the initial source of all energy in the food chain.
  • Plants filter and purify fresh water upon which all terrestrial life depends.
  • Plants build soil, prevent erosion and ensure soil stability for the landscape.
  • Plants store carbon dioxide and produce oxygen that all animals, including humans, require.
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Gray's sedge - Carex grayii

Aesthetic Values

  • The presence of plants in their native habitats and in cultivation gives us a "sense of place."
  • Native plant communities and natural areas provide opportunities for people to experience and appreciate Pennsylvania's rich natural heritage.