Colorado Reader 04/2018

Colorado Reader Agriculture in the Classroom - Helping the Next Generation Understand their Connection to Agriculture Food, Fiber and Natural Resource Literacy Colorado Foundation for Agriculture - Colorado Native Plants Native plants are species that naturally occur in a particular region. Many varieties of plants developed over millions of years, and are well adapted to Colorado’s windy, dry, and sunny climate. Many of our native plants can be beautiful, hardy garden plants that require very little water. Native plants have a very special relationship with the native insects and birds that depend on them for food and shelter. As people have moved into Colorado, they have brought plants from other parts of the world. But many of these plants are not useful to Colorado’s wildlife. Flowers contain many parts including petals, stamens, and pistils. Stamens produce pollen . Pistils are the parts of the flower that produces seeds. When pollen makes contact with the pistil of flowers, they become fertilized and produce seeds. This is how flowers reproduce. When pollinators - birds, insects, or other animals - Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom collect food from flowers (nectar and pollen) they also fertilize flowers by carrying pollen from plant to plant. Native plants and pollinators adapted to each other over a long time together. This is called co- evolution . For example, some insects and birds have long tongues. These tongues allow them to drink nectar from long flower tubes that other birds and insects cannot reach. Plants also produce chemical defenses against insects. The insects evolve to tolerate and cope with those chemicals. Limiting which pollinators can feed on the flowers benefits plants, too. It increases the chance of being visited by pollinators that have been feeding on similar flowers and receiving the right kind of pollen to be fertilized. Native plants and pollinators depend on each other. Growing native plants in your garden can help preserve wildlife and add to Colorado’s unique natural beauty. 1