An evening lecture by the popular ecologist Douglas W. Tallamy was standing room only September 30 at the fall conference of the Arkansas Native Plant Society.
Using dramatic data, stunning photographs, and a carefully pitched blend of humor and motivation, Tallamy told society members they can help restore biodiversity by using native plants in their home gardens.
The key, he stressed, is to choose native plants that support high numbers of insect species. For example, Tallamy said, black cherry (Prunus serotina) and redbud (Cercis canadensis) both are native to a large area of the United States, but black cherry can support up to 456 species of butterflies and moths while redbud only supports 19 species. (Tallamy ranks the insect productivity of many native and non-native species of woody and herbaceous plants in tables that are available here.)
Tallamy is the author of Bringing Nature Home (Timber Press, 2007) and an ecologist at the University of Delaware.
Introducing Tallamy, Theo Witsell, a board member and a botanist with the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission, moved the audience with the story of his own realization that in choosing native plants he was “not merely planting a flower garden but creating an ecosystem.”
Faulkner County Master Gardeners, Wild Birds Unlimited, and Audubon Arkansas co-sponsored Tallamy’s lecture. Pine Ridge Gardens, Joyce Hardin, and Jane Gulley also supported his appearance. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service provided the auditorium as well as an outdoor area for a plant sale.
Revised Oct. 18, 2011