Native Plant – A plant that naturally occurs, absent of human intervention, within a geographic range, and has co-evolved with other native species within that range. Native plants provide critical ecological functions and are adapted to persist in the environment.
For the purposes of our collections, MCC considers plants to be native if they naturally occur within the Eastern Temperate Forests of the United States.
Invasive Plant – A non-native plant that causes or is likely to cause environmental or economic harm. Invasive plants tend to be aggressive, out-competing and displacing native flora and fauna.
Naturalized Plant – A non-native plant that reproduces and persists within a region or ecosystem. While not invasive, naturalized plants may not offer the same ecological benefits as native plants because they have not co-evolved with local flora and fauna. Some non-native plants may become invasive over time.
Cultivar – A native or non-native plant that has been selected or bred for a particular attribute. A cultivar is a nomenclatural category below the rank of species.
Cultivars may be established in multiple ways:
- Plants are selected from a population that naturally exhibits unique characteristics.
- Plants are bred to exhibit a particular attribute.
- Cultivars can also result from crossing two or more taxa (kinds of plants). Such crosses are often also called hybrids. However, not all hybrids are cultivars by default. Some hybrids occur in nature too.
Most cultivars are propagated asexually (producing identical clones) to preserve the unique traits that make them desirable. However, there are also cultivars whose traits remain consistent when propagated by seed. Such seed grown cultivars often provide greater genetic diversity than those propagated asexually.
Nativar – A common reference a cultivar of a native plant.
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center houses an excellent list of botanical terms.
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