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Plants & Animals

The health and vitality of our plants and wildlife are essential to our lives even beyond forest and grassland boundaries. Every regions of our country is being invaded by invasive plants, animals, insects and pathogens. They can the environment, economy and each of us. Learn how you can help.

Playing Smart Against Invasive Species

Native plant or not?

Plant species are invasive when they are nonnative to the area where found and are capable of causing environmental, economic or human harm.

So, how can you tell what is native and what it not? Looks can be deceiving.

That beautiful, green ivy climbing your tree could be the dreaded kudzu. The climbing, semi-woody perennial vine kills or degrades plants by smothering them under a solid blanket of leaves, by girdling wood stems and tree trunks, and by breaking branches or uprooting entire trees and shrubs. They grow rapidly – about one foot per day – and as many as 30 vines may grow from a single shoot.

All of us are the primary way invasive species are introduced. We can help prevent the spread. Here’s how to:

  • Be knowledgeable: Learn about invasive species in your geographic area 
  • Be garden wise: Plant native species to replace invasive species 
  • Be on the lookout: Find new infestations before they spread and become established
  • Be a snitch: Report invasive species to local authorities 
  • Be proactive: Control and eradicate existing infestations
  • Be involved: Forming a local invasive species watch group

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Pollinators

What is pollination?

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. The goal of every living organism, including plants, is to create offspring for the next generation. One of the ways that plants can produce offspring is by making seeds. Seeds contain the genetic information to produce a new plant.


Why is pollination important?

Virtually all of the world’s seed plants need to be pollinated. This is just as true for cone-bearing plants, such as pine trees, as for the more colorful and familiar flowering plants. Pollen, looking like insignificant yellow dust, bears a plant’s male sex cells and is a vital link in the reproductive cycle. With adequate pollination, wildflowers:

  • Reproduce and produce enough seeds for dispersal and propagation
  • Maintain genetic diversity within a population
  • Develop adequate fruits to entice seed dispersers

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What are animal pollinators?

Animal pollinators play a crucial role in flowering plant reproduction and in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

  • Most plants require pollinator help to produce seeds and fruit.
  • 80 percent of all flowering plants and more than three-quarters of the staple crop plants that feed humankind rely on animal pollinators.
  • Pollinators visit flowers in search of food, mates, shelter and nest-building materials.
  • More than half of the world’s diet of fats and oils – oil palm, canola, sunflowers, etc. – come from animal-pollinated plants.
  • More than 150 food crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators, including almost all fruit and grain crops.
  • The USDA estimates that crops dependent on pollination are worth more than $10 billion per year.

The secret bond of the partnership is that neither plant nor pollinator populations can exist in isolation – should one disappear, the other is one generation away from disaster.

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