Legislation (AJR-98) sponsored by Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro was signed into law Monday, designating June of each year as “Native Plant Appreciation Month” in an effort to honor and preserve New Jersey’s biodiversity.
“By observing Native Plant Appreciation Month, our state recognizes the important role of native plants in the ecosystem, and encourages residents to learn more about native plants, their habitats, and how to protect them,” said Taliaferro.
Taliaferro noted that New Jersey possesses over 2,100 native plant species, 19 globally rare plants, which have their most viable populations in New Jersey, and nine plants, which have been documented only in New Jersey and do not occur anywhere else on the planet. Our state’s floristic diversity is due in large part to a variety of geographical locations including: the mountainous Highlands, the sandy Pine Barrens, the rich Delaware River Valley, and the salt marshes of the Atlantic Coast. New Jersey’s preserved open space and farmland, which makes up close to a third of the state’s total acreage, contains most of our native plant species.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that New Jersey is rapidly losing its native plants, with roughly one-third of those plants designated as endangered or of special concern by the State’s Natural Heritage Program. Threats to native plants include habitat destruction caused by development and urbanization, pollution, and harmful invasive plant species.
“New Jersey continues its strong commitment to preserving its natural heritage through programs like Farmland Assessment, Farmland Preservation, and funding for open space,” added Taliaferro. “We must continue to fight to ensure our state’s identity as the Garden State is protected and preserved, allowing our farms, natural resources, and native plants to thrive.”