University of Maryland Extension

Part 3: The Past - Ecoregions

Discussions of what is or isn't native get very complicated in modern times.  Are plant species from adjoining states native?  Are all species from your own state native?  Can we call an alien species native once it's been here long enough?  If so, how long?  If insects adapt to feeding on an alien plant, then is it native?  What about cultivars?  Are they native?  If so, are all cultivars native, or just some of them?  What about extinct species, are they still native?  Should we try to re-establish them?  Are native plants really low maintenance?  And what is a simple soul to do when they want to landscape with native plants, but the soil, the rain, the other plants, the animals, and even the climate have changed?

The conversation over these issues has become heated, and even unkind.  In this course we'll begin our exploration of native plants long before the words "purist", "Nazi" and "invasive" were uttered.  This will allow us to consider why plant species are naturally associated with certain conditions, places, and communities. 

In the following presentation we'll learn about Maryland's ecoregions.  We'll do this in the simplest possible context, considering conditions as they would have been before the arrival of the European settlers.  So for a short time, put aside your nagging questions about the modern world, and step into the past.


After you've listened to the lecture, read about the Level IV Ecoregions in your own area.  Here are the materials you'll need:

  1. the Level III/IV Ecoregions map (click here)
  2. the accompanying "Ecoregion Descriptions" by Woods, Omernik and Brown (1999) (click here)

To get more information, or to download from the EPA website directly,  click here.

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