Digging from the Wild?

new leaves of columbine emerge between old plant stalks


Digging native plants from the wild?  Unfortunately most of us have tried it at some point.  And most of us have failed.  Lots of native plants just don’t like to be dug up and moved.

But there are bigger issues at stake than just trying to transplant.  Like, what happens to that hole you leave in the soil?  All depends on which weed seed arrives there first.  Disturbing the soil opens it to weed seeds that either fly in, are deposited on the site by animals, or have been sitting on the site dormant, just waiting for the soil to be broken open for them to start sprouting.

And what happens to species (e.g. Echinacea angustifolia) that get dug up by too many people and suddenly find themselves few and far between?  Depletion of populations of native plants is happening all around us as development eradicates plant communities.  Digging plants from the wild doesn’t help the situation.

single plant of Arrowleaf Balsamroot with many yellow ray flowers

Arrowleaf Balsamroot

I know, digging just this one little plant won’t have any noticeable effect.   Something akin to removing cool rocks from National Parks or fossils from old deposits…. OK, I’m experiencing guilt for digging up that plant years ago.  But I know better now and won’t do it again!

Really, it DOES make a difference.  Please don’t dig plants from the wild.  See if you can find a nursery that sells the species you are looking for, or gather seeds and propagate them.  Or give me the seeds and I’ll grow them for you!



One thought on “Digging from the Wild?

  1. I took a Naturalist class and the Biologist teaching us suggested not to take anything unless there are at least 20 of them–so one seed/seedpod out of 20. I have collected seeds and then I take some and scatter them around to help that plant establish a few more.

    I also swear by my native plant nursery, Derby Canyon Natives! Ted Alway gets permission to gather seeds and I even volunteered to collect lomatiums with him once. He is also hired to help with restoration and works with our land trust and the Forest Service on projects. I know that if I buy natives from him they have been properly sourced.

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