Montgomery Parks promotes the use of native plants in projects to support its mission to be stewards of the natural environment. Since 2012, the Native Plant Program, housed at the Pope Farm production facility helps Parks fulfill that mission by identifying, preserving, and propagating native plants found in primarily in Montgomery County, but also from nearby land within the local Piedmont and coastal plain seed zones.
Native perennials, shrubs, and trees serve as food and shelter for native fauna. In many cases, insects or birds need a specific species of plant to survive. A familiar example of these animal-plant relationships is that of monarch butterflies that rely on native milkweed as a food source in the caterpillar stage. Loss of native plants due to human development and invasive plant spread has reduced the population and diversity of wildlife in our area.
The Native Plant Program is unique because plants are grown from seeds harvested from native plants found in Montgomery County instead of purchased from suppliers around the country. The program maintains stock gardens from this locally collected seed. Each year, seed, cuttings and rooted plants from the stock gardens are used to produce new plants for various Montgomery County Parks projects including replanting natural areas, meadows, stream valleys, bioretention areas, and stormwater management sites. Currently, the program has seed for over 200 local ecotype plants and regularly grows about 125 different species for Parks use.
In addition to supporting the native plant population in the Parks, the Native Plant Program increases awareness of the importance of local ecotype plants and increases their distribution by