Written by: Annie Muggia, intern at Blueland
April 8, 2022
As Spring comes into full bloom, you may notice more brightly colored flowers popping up around you. Some of these beautiful flowers might be wildflowers! We’re all used to seeing them, but did you know that they are also important to maintain biodiversity in our ecosystems? Here's why.
What Role do Wildflowers Play in our Ecosystems?
According to National Geographic, wildflowers play a critical role in the insect food chain and “are indicators of the health of these ecosystems.” They provide food for insects and creatures and, in return, creatures like bees carry pollen from one plant to the next. Wildflowers have deep root systems meaning they can store a large amount of water and nutrients while not releasing their carbon. This is important because they can survive in extreme climates. Lastly, they are known for vastly changing the landscape in which they reside for the better. For example, do you live in New York City or another urban area? If there are wildflowers around, you are in luck. Wildflowers attract various species, including monarch butterflies and American bumblebees!
Why is it Important to Protect Wildflowers?
In the last decade, wildflowers have become increasingly endangered and nearly extinct. Protecting wildflowers is critical as they are important for pollinators, insects and wildlife, which ultimately contribute to a healthy biodiverse ecosystem. Specifically, wildflowers can benefit soil health, prevent erosion, and improve conditions for livestock.
What Impact do Influencers and Tourists Have on Wildflowers?
According to The Guardian, social media influencers and tourists are hurting the spring and blooming season of wildflowers. As social media has become increasingly popular, so has the importance of capturing the “perfect” and most “aesthetically pleasing” photograph. As we enter the spring season in California, thousands of wildflowers bloom alongside hiking trails and nature preserves. Unfortunately, various social media influencers take photos for their Instagrams standing in the middle of wildflower fields. Not only does this send a dangerous message about environmental conservation to their followers, but it also kills hundreds of wildflowers. The general public and social media influencers need to make the small, yet critical choices to not disrupt wildlife when they take their photographs.
How Can I Help Protect Wildflowers?
According to First Nature, the primary threats to wildflowers include climate change, lack of habitat, housing/industrial development, and overuse of insecticides/herbicides. You can contribute to preserving wildflowers by donating to conservation organizations, buying and planting wildflower seeds, and not digging up wildflowers in hopes of transplanting them to gardens!
If you see wildflowers during your everyday life, avoid the urge to pluck them and bring them home to a vase. Instead, allow them to grow naturally so they can support their surrounding ecosystems. If you want to get involved in a program, the USDA Forest Service created a Celebrating Wildflowers program to raise awareness about the wildflowers that grow across 191 million acres of national forests and grasslands. The program aims to educate the public on the importance of conserving and taking care of native plants. The program honors wildflowers by displaying thousands growing in Uinta National Forest and preserved areas. If you would like to get involved, you can donate, plant wildflowers, or join programs and clubs!