TRENTON, N.J. – A bill that would require plant nurseries to inform customers of the importance of native plant species in New Jersey advanced out of the Assembly Agriculture Committee Wednesday.
Assemblyman Parker Space’s bill (A1584) specifies the N.J. Department of Agriculture create a brochure that touts the benefits and necessity of native plants to the health of state ecosystems. That brochure would be downloadable and printable from the department’s website.
The department would also create a sign with the web address to that material, which would be posted at plant nurseries’ point of sales.
“In the pursuit of beauty through non-native species we’ve ravaged the Garden State’s ecosystems. More than 350 of the state’s 2,000 native plant species are endangered. When plants disappear, homes and food supplies for beneficial insects and animals disappear,” Space (R-Sussex) said. “My childhood was filled with chasing butterflies and capturing lightning bugs in Mason jars. Where have they gone? Children today, if they go outside at all, only know about ticks and stink bugs. Let’s fix that.”
Native species are those that have evolved and thrived in the region since the settlement of Europeans to North America, according to the Rutgers Agricultural Experiment Station. The pollen, nectar, leaves and fruit of nonnative plants is insufficient for sustaining native insects and animals, driving them to find suitable habitats elsewhere, or die out.
“Even committing a small percentage of your yard to planting native species can help plants and animals thrive,” Space said. “No one is asking residents to forego their floribunda or hydrangeas. But adding some New England Aster or Trumpet Honeysuckle may be seen as a small act of heroism to firefly-deprived youngsters around the state.”