April is Native Plant Month


At Teton County Weed & Pest, we share a lot of information about invasive plants and insects. During April, Native Plant Month, we thought we’d switch things up and give native plants the attention they deserve. After all, they are an imperative part of the ecosystem that we work so hard to protect, and understanding the importance of native plants is crucial to our efforts.

Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris) in a mountain field
Alpine Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis alpestris)

Natives vs Invasives

Let’s touch on the difference between native and invasive species: A native species is one that naturally belongs to a certain area, having evolved and adapted alongside other plants and animals slowly over time.. If a species is brought to a new area by humans, it's called an introduced species. Some introduced species find themselves particularly well adapted to the conditions in their new environment, and, lacking the natural predators of their native range, become invasive.  Oftentimes, a thriving invasive species can outcompete and harm necessary native species, casting a wide negative effect on wildlife and the environment as a whole.

Know your Native Plants in Teton County:

Teton County is home to over 1,200 native plant species. The first step in being part of the solution is being able to identify plants, both native and invasive. You can find a Teton County Native Species List created by the Teton Conservation District. Or if you’d rather have some pictures to help identify, view this Teton County, WY Native Plant Gallery.

For invasive plant identification and information, that's where Teton County Weed & Pest comes in. Our website has a wealth of information to help you identify and learn about invasive species. Along with the Wyoming Weed & Pest Council, we helped develop this helpful Noxious Weed Handbook to assist you in learning and identifying invasive plants.

Old Man's Whiskers (Geum triflorum) on mountain above Jackson Hole
Old Man's Whiskers (Geum triflorum)

Garden with Native Plants:

Once you can identify the plants from one another, you probably want to be a part of the solution. Plant natives and eliminate invasive plants. A frustrating truth about gardening is that not all plants sold are natives, and it’s our responsibility to double-check. In many cases, wildflower mixes are not regulated and can perpetuate the spread of already devastating invasive plants, and many wildflower mixes contain nonnative species that, while not invasive, can’t be utilized by our native pollinator and wildlife species.

Make sure that you are buying plants and seeds from trusted sources. A few reputable local purveyors are listed here with Teton Conservation District.  If you have identified an invasive species on your property, TCWP can help you determine the best management strategy or pesticide to eliminate that species. Don’t be shy to ask us for help. 

Up close picture of Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii).
Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii)

Celebrate Native Plants all Season: 

While April might be Native Plant Month, it’s just the beginning of warmer seasons and seeing the Tetons' beloved Native Plant species once again. The more you know about them, the more you can help preserve a vital part of our local ecosystem and keep noxious weeds at bay. 

Interested in learning more about Wyoming Native Plants?

Here are more resources that can help:

Craighead, Frank C Jr, (1994) “For Everything There Is a Season: The Sequence of Natural Events in the Grand Teton-Yellowstone Area” 

- Treavor Bloom’s continued follow up work on Phenology with ‘For Everything There is a Season” 

Fluet, Amy, Thompson, Jennifer S., Tuthill, Dorothy E., Marsicek, Brenna R., (2013) “Plants with altitude : regionally native plants for Wyoming gardens” 

Busco, J., & Morin, N. R. (2003). Native plants for high-elevation western gardens. 

Plants with altitude : regionally native plants for Wyoming gardens

Johnson, Lorraine, “100 easy-to-grow native plants for American gardens in temperate zones”

Dorn, Robert D, Dorn, Jane Logan. “Growing native plants of the Rocky Mountain area” 

Tallamy, Douglas W, “Nature's best hope: a new approach to conservation that starts in your yard” 

Harrington, Harold David (1998) “Edible native plants of the Rocky Mountains”