Native Plants (JHARVNC)

Summary:

Depending on the season, participants will learn about native plants, including wildflowers. A hike is recommended.

Grade Level:

K - 8

Recommended Setting:

Outside on nature center trails

Outdoor Activity:

No

Location:

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center, Fort Smith

Contact:

Education Program Coordinator, 479-452-3993

Duration:

45 minutes

Suggested Number of Participants:

25 - 30

Special Conditions:

Weather permitting, outdoor activity

Objectives:

  • Understand the benefits of plant
  • Explain the types of native Arkansas plants
  • Understand what it means for something to be native
  • Review the pros and cons of native versus non-native plants

Key Terms*:

Dicot

Fruit

Invasive

Monocot

Native

Shrub

Tree

Vine

*See glossary for definations

Materials:

Specimens of native and non-native Arkansas plants

Background:

Arkansas native plants include hardwood trees, wildflowers, grasses and shrubs. These native species keep the habitats original with minimal maintenance. Native plants provide the optimal food source for wildlife. Exotic or invasive species are often detrimental to the native plants growing in an environment.

Native Plants
  • Benefits – original habitat, compare habitats seen on hike
  • Identify and talk about important native plant species
    • Hardwood trees
      • Simple leaf
      • Compound leaf
      • Leaf scar
      • Bud
      • Opposite leaves
      • Alternate leaves
      • Spur branches
    • Native wildflowers
      • Monocots – one-seed leaf, flower parts in threes, parallel veins
      • Dicots – two-seed leaves, flower parts in fours or fives, palmate or pinnate veins
    • Native grasses
      • Identification
        • Sedges
        • Rushes
        • Flora
      • Importance
        • Food source
        • Forage
        • Turf

Exotic or Invasive Species

  • Disadvantages – take over native species
  • Identify and talk about important invasive/non-native species

Procedure:

  1. Talk with participants on back deck about native and non-native plants.
  2. Point out specific native plants in the landscaping around the nature center.
  3. Go on a hike to point out certain plants that are native and non-native in Arkansas and discuss their uses.
  4. Conclude by having participants give examples of native trees, wildflowers, grasses and invasive plants seen on the hike.

Review:

  • Have participants explain the differences between native and non-native plants.
  • Discuss how native plants are beneficial to wildlife and how wildlife plays a part in the plants’ survival.
  • Understand the importance of knowing what plants are actually weeds and what native plants can benefit a garden or people. An example is natural herbs.

Resources:

Refer participants to wildflower and native plant resources in gift shop and through AGFC.

Glossary:

Dicot – a flowering plant that produces two embryonic leaves (cotyledons) when it germinates and whose subsequent leaves have a network of veins

Fruit – reproductive body of a seed plant that is usually ripened and edible
 
Invasive – tending to spread

Monocot – any plant that has one embryonic seed leaf or cotyledon

Native – living or growing naturally in a region and not introduced from elsewhere

Shrub – a woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems from the same base and lacing a single trunk

Tree – a perennial woody plant having a main trunk and usually a distinct crown

Vine – weak-stemmed plant that derives its support from climbing, twining or creeping along a surface