Is Transplanting Natives Ever A Bad Idea?

From what was the tiniest clump of plant with about 4 posies, bluets that were transplanted have grown into a mass over a foot in diameter with several little satellite plants a few feet away from the mother plant. I can see how these little bluets could colonize the whole field!

Now, in transplanting these plants to a new location, have I done a good thing or a bad thing?

I’d say good, or great, as to the purpose of the flowers being near the house which was to watch them grow (education) and provide smiles (entertainment). So, good for the people in the vicinity that give a crap about flowers.

Others would see it as a weed interrupting the monotony of their (non-sustainable) green lawns. I, myself, vote for the addition of color and interest to the place.

From an ecological perspective was taking a plant that grew in an open field at a location 10 miles from here a wise thing? I dunno. Is transplanting any plant a wise move?

People have moved and taken plants with them on their journeys since forever. It’s nothing new. Ecosystems adapt to new inhabitants and life goes on, albeit somewhat changed on a local level. Sometimes those changes are so profound that reverberations are felt in much wider circles than the localized habitat.

The little plant was moved from a sunny field, which used to be forest at one time and adjacent to a river, so the seeds that started the mother colony must have come from somewhere else. Were seeds blown on the wind? Did seeds get deposited via a small mammal or birds wandering by? Maybe rain water running to the river brought seeds to this spot many years ago.

The size of the plant makes worries of potential invasiveness moot. Bluets may attain a height of 8 inches at the most, the flowers typically rise 4-6 inches off the ground, and it’s not a climbing plant so it doesn’t seem to have the qualities that are typically of concern regarding invasives.

However, the fact that a new plant is now growing where other plants used to grow means that it has displaced the old plants. When this sort of displacement happens on a large scale we worry about the potential loss of those species that no longer grow there.

In this case the plants being displaced by the new bluets are other weeds, moss and some grass, I suppose. Nothing really lost there.

But, it does bring up a question in general. We all get the sense that it’s a good idea, ecologically speaking, to plant natives vs. non-native plants, both for the survival of the transplanted plant and the lesser disruption to the existing habitat by moving in plants that could adapt to the local environment.

But what about transplanting natives? Is there a proper way to judge when transplanting natives is a bad idea? Curious what y’all think about that!

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