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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: March 08, 2012
Contact: Julie Buchanan, Public Relations Specialist, (804) 786-2292, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov

New web-based tool for finding native plants available

RICHMOND - Virginians from the beach to the mountains have a new tool at their disposal as they plan their spring gardens.

The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has launched the Virginia Native Plant Finder, an online database that enables users to easily search for plants that are native to their region of the state.

Users can look up specific plants by common or scientific names. They also can enter a variety of search terms to find native plants fitting selected moisture, light or landscape requirements.

Native plants are those that occur in the region where they evolved. They possess certain traits that make them uniquely adapted to local conditions. Staff from DCR's Virginia Natural Heritage Program work to inventory and protect the state's native plants.

Landscaping with natives offers several benefits.

- Because native plants are acclimated to local conditions, they often require less water, fertilizer and pesticide than non-natives. This means less maintenance for gardeners.
- Planting with natives reduces the risk of invasive, non-native plants taking over the yard.
- Beneficial wildlife such as birds and butterflies rely on native plants for food and habitat. Yards planted with natives can become outdoor classrooms.
- Native plants help preserve the natural landscape, creating a sense of place and pride. For example, Virginia's state tree - the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) - makes the native plant list.

The Virginia Native Plant Finder is built on information from DCR's "Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration and Landscaping" brochure series. The series was created with assistance from many partners, including the Virginia Native Plant Society.

The society maintains a list of nurseries that grow natives. Native plants should be purchased from reputable vendors and never taken from wild places.

The Virginia Native Plant Finder is at DCR's website, www.dcr.virginia.gov. Click on "Natural Heritage" and then "Native Plants." It also can be found at www.plantmoreplants.com by clicking on "What to plant."

For more information about Virginia native plants, contact Kevin Heffernan, DCR stewardship biologist, at kevin.heffernan@dcr.virginia.gov.

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