Ready to Use Factoids
Consider these quick statements to promote native plants and CNPS. Communications will be easy to put together and they will support common messages across the organization.
California Native Plants are Special
- California is a biodiversity hotspot recognized by international conservation organizations. The range of physical geography starting with coastline and going to the tallest peaks to the lowest elevation (below sea level) in the continental United States leads to a great diversity of climates and species
- The United States hosts 15,890 vascular plant species. Nearly a third of those plants are found in California (5,047).
- California supports the greatest number of endemic (found nowhere else) plants of any state in the USA. (2,153 species, subspecies, and varieties)
- One third of plants in California are identified as rare, endangered, or threatened. (The special statuses are given to 2,089 species/sub-species/varieties out of a total 6,272 species/sub-species/varieties.) The status may be applied because their habitats are naturally rare due to climate or geography, but many have become rare because of pollution, development, over-collecting, and invasion by exotic species.
- In California, native plants refer to plants that were growing here before European human contact and settlement. Non-native species are those that have been introduced by people and are “alien” to our native ecosystems.
- California has the tallest, largest, and oldest trees in the world. The Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum): The General Sherman Tree in Kings Canyon National Park of California is 275 feet tall, with branches extending 55 feet from the trunk. Its trunk is over 32 feet in diameter at its base. It is estimated to weigh over 2,000 tons. The Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens): The “Stratosphere Giant Tree” in Humboldt Redwoods State Park of California is over 370 feet tall! The Bristlecone Pine (Pinus longaeva): "Methuselah" is 4,789 years old and grows in the White Mountains of California. This tree was living when pyramids in Egypt were being built.
- The Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is the most widely planted and grown native California tree worldwide - as a timber tree.
- The original American peoples used over 2,000 native plants for medicinal purposes.
- Native plants are a vital component of California’s scenic landscapes, including our world renown National Parks..
- Native plants can often support 10 to 50 times as many species of native wildlife as non-native plants.
- Water is a highly valued resource in California. Promoting use of drought tolerant native plants for landscaping simply makes sense. These plants have evolved to naturally live in our climates. We can weave sustainable habitat into our urban areas.
- It simply makes sense to use plants that have naturally adapted to local climate, water availability, soils, and wildlife. For gardening and landscape use, they generally prefer little to no fertilizer, less water, and less effort in controlling pests than non-native plants.
Additional Vegetation Benefits
- Minimally disturbed natural vegetated areas provide water purification, air cleansing, waste treatment, erosion control, carbon storage, moderate recreation, genotype diversity, pollinator homes, and wildlife habitat. (Careful limited use of selected natural vegetated areas can provide some of the above benefits as well as moderate grazing, selective lumber harvesting, increased recreation, eco-tourism, and aesthetic values to adjacent communities.)
- Trees clean pollutants from the air including sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide.
- Trees lower energy consumption. Shade from trees prevents heat islands, the build up of heat from sunlight pouring onto dark nonreflecting surfaces such as roofs, roads, and parking lots. Trees properly placed around buildings cut air conditioning use. The USDA Forest Service Center for Urban Forest Research found that adding 50 million new trees in California could eliminate the need for seven new 100 megawatt power plants.
- Over one-fourth of all prescription drugs today have plant origins. Taxol, which is used to treat ovarian cancer, was discovered in the bark of the Pacific yew, a native tree species that grows in Pacific Northwest old-growth forests. Aspirin was originally discovered from a chemical found in willow trees.
- Studies have found that views of trees improve human mental health.
Problems in the Environment
- Development without regional land use planning is fragmenting our landscape. Once healthy ecosystems are now broken apart into small land areas that may not survive natural and manmade disturbances. Isolated pieces greatly reduce the genetic variability of plants and animals, leading to species decline.
- Mitigation attempts for many species and habitats have proven unsuccessful.
- Foreign invasive plants brought to California spread rapidly and take over farm and wildland, destroying habitat for native plants and animals.
- American Forests (organization) determined that more than 3.5 billion trees were lost from the 448 largest urban areas in the US during a recent 10 year period.
- In California, less than 10% of original coastal sage scrub land remains, less than 1% of native grasslands remain intact, and additional lowland habitats have been converted for development and agriculture, endangering a multitude of flora and fauna species. The contiguous natural habit ranges that still exist must be preserved and strengthened. Without these ranges, top predators will die, disrupting balanced ecosystem health. Without these ranges, genetic variability can not be sustained. Without these ranges biological movement has nowhere to go as the climate changes.
Quotes and Thoughts
- Once a species is gone, we cannot bring it back.
- Wild plants and the wild places they live – will they be here for our children?
- “Treat the Earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children.” -- Kenyan Proverb
- “Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” -- Chief Seattle, 1855
- “The supreme reality of our time is...the vulnerability of our planet.” - John F. Kennedy (1917 1963), speech, June 28, 1963
- Design Science is the effective application of the principles of science to the conscious design of our total environment, in order to help make the earth's finite resources meet the needs of all humanity without disrupting the ecological processes of the planet. - R. Buckminster Fuller
- I do not intend that our natural resources shall be exploited by the few against the interests of the many. - Theodore Roosevelt
- It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. - Eleanor Roosevelt
- The great end of life is not knowledge but action. - T. H. Huxley
Why CNPS is Special
- We are fans of authentic California landscape.
- Leading independent, non-profit organization for statewide plant location and classification data.
- The Inventory of Rare and Endangered Plants.
- Thirty two chapters across the state with active members.
- Tremendous volunteer work in multiple aspects of native plant appreciation and preservation.
- A central organization for linking people of similar interests.