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Wood River Valley Wildflowers Miss Native Plant Appreciation Month
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Saturday, April 29, 2023
 

STORY BY KATE DALY

PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

It seems kind of funny to think of April being Native Plant Appreciation Month in Idaho, given all the snow still on the ground. But, hopefully, April’s snow will give way to May flowers.

Gov. Brad Little’s proclamation about May being Native Plant Month noted that Idaho is home to more than 2,500 native plant species.

“It is important to encourage public awareness about the benefits of Idaho’s native plants to pollinators and other wildlife, to the economy and to the health and sustainability of Idaho’s ecosystems,” he added.

The national movement to declare April 2023 Native Plant Month is supported by the Idaho Native Plant Society, which also collaborated with members of the Garden Club of America to help name this April Idaho Native Plant Month.  So far, 47 states’ governors have gone along with the plan, although Kansas picked September, instead, and Alaska chose May for its month, according to Garden Club of America member Karen Gilhuly.

Gilhuly pointed out that late spring might be a more appropriate time to think about native plants blooming in the Wood River Valley where the state flower-- wild syringa or mock orange—grows in her yard.  But, she says, the whole thing is about awareness, and in April, Earth Day and National Arbor Day happen, nurseries are stocking their plants and gardeners are prepping for warmer weather conditions.

“It’s good synergy,” she said.

Did you know, the state flower appears on the Idaho state seal at the woman’s feet?  The fragrant deciduous shrub can grow anywhere from six to 20 feet tall and is formally called Philadelphus lewisii after Captain Meriwether Lewis, who discovered it along the Clearwater River in 1806 on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Governor’s proclamation spells out multiple reasons for planting natives like this because they are essential for healthy, diverse, and sustainable ecosystems and are critical for cleaning air, filtering water, and stabilizing soils.”

The proclamation adds that native plants are well-adapted to Idaho’s soils, temperature variations, precipitation patterns and other environmental conditions, making them the best option for conserving and protecting our environment, and adopting to its changes.

The proclamation also states that native plants provide food, including nectar, pollen, seeds, and foliage for native birds, insects, butterflies, bees and other wildlife in ways that non-native plants cannot.”

 Gilhuly added another win/win to the list:  When you create a native plant habitat, remove non-native and invasive plants and stop using pesticides or herbicides, you end up promoting healthy biodiversity–a benefit for all.

Interested in finding out more about native plants?  Visit https://idahonativeplants.org and click on the “Resources” tab on the menu.


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