Native Plant Species on Cape Cod are an essential part of maintaining balance in the ecosystem. The beloved native animals on the Cape depend on these plants for food and shelter.
Read on the learn more about the positive impacts of native plants on Cape Cod and what you can do to help preserve native species.
Why Plant Native Species?
Native plant species are what keep Cape Cod looking and feeling like Cape Cod. Regional and local plant species have grown, evolved, and co-existed with the inhabitants of Cape Cod for generations. Therefore, they are essential to maintaining the balance of the Cape’s fragile ecosystem.
Cape Cod’s native plant species aren’t just beautiful, but they also play a vital role in supporting the environment. Some of the impacts of native plant species on Cape Cod include:
- Providing food and shelter for wildlife – native plant species are the homes and food sources for many of the wonderful animal natives that call Cape Cod their home.
- Reducing fertilizer – plants that aren’t native to Cape Cod require a lot of fertilizer to maintain. Fertilizer contains phosphorus and nitrogen, all of which eventually end up in the Cape Cod waterways. These components cause excess algae growth, which ultimately reduces the oxygen levels in the water. Water with depleted oxygen damages the habitat of the sea creatures living in Cape Cod waters.
- Reducing pesticide – plants that are native to Cape Cod are more resistant to pest problems than non-native species. Planting native species can reduce pesticide use, which is not only harmful to humans and animals but also contaminates the water.
- Conserving water use – most native Cape Cod plant species are adapted to the environment. Therefore, they require far less watering than non-native species and help conserve water use.
What Are We Doing to Help Preserve Native Plant Species?
With the important benefits that native plant species provide, you may be wondering what Cape Cod is doing to protect these plants and the ecosystem that they create. Along with natural reserves, there are a number of active programs promoting the planting and growth of native plant species on Cape Cod.
Natural Neighbors – BiodiversityWorks and Wilderness Project
BiodiversityWorks and the Wilderness Project have partnered together to create the Natural Neighbors program on Martha’s Vineyard. This program is geared towards working with property owners and neighborhood associations to identify current native plant species and potential biodiversity contributions that can be made.
Complete the interest survey to start working with a representative from the program today!
Native Plant Initiative – APCC
The Association to Preserve Cape Cod has created the Native Plant Initiative as a way to educate residents about native plants. On the APCC webpage, you can find information about the following:
- Native garden design examples
- Information on learning more about plants native to Cape Cod
- Examples of native plant species
- Where to find seeds & native plants to buy
Pollinator Pathway Cape Cod – Pollinator Pathway
Pollinator Pathway is on a mission to educate and engage towns, businesses, and private property owners in creating pollinator-friendly corridors. They aim to achieve this by partnering with local organizations and providing resources for individuals looking to become advocates for native plant species. Some things you can find on the Pollinator Pathway website include the following:
- Toolkit for starting your own pollinator pathway
- Tips for becoming an advocate
- Useful tips on how to take care of your yard
Pollinator Pathway also works with local governments to develop resolutions to become Pollinator Friendly Communities. As of writing, the only town on Cape Cod that has passed such a resolution is the Town of Orleans.
How Can I Help Grow Native Plant Species on Cape Cod
Not everyone has the time and money to completely re-landscape their lawn with native species, and that’s okay! There are several ways to help contribute to the growth and preservation of native plant species on Cape Cod.
- Plant plants native to Cape Cod – You don’t have to redo your entire lawn to make a difference. Even planting a few native plants can make a huge difference. Check out our list of plant species native to Cape Cod.
- Reduce your lawn size – Well-manicured lawns are not all that beneficial. Cut down on the size of your lawn by planting a few extra native plants or trees. It’ll cut down on mowing time and may create a new home for a local animal!
- Be an advocate – If you don’t have a lawn or are looking for a way to make a bigger impact, you can still advocate for policies that promote native plant growth. Become active in the community to help your community become a native plant-friendly community.
Where Can I Learn More About Nature on Cape Cod?
Looking to learn more about how to protect and preserve the natural beauty of Cape Cod? Visit our page on exploring the natural wonders on Cape Cod.