Happy National Panda Day
(May Peace Be With You.)

Today is National Panda Day. While it may seem to be an odd topic for our Tampa Bay-focused blog, pandas are an important symbol of peace, friendship, and hope. They also have galvanized a generation of conservationists (they are the featured animal in the logo for the World Wildlife Fund) and spurred action to save the habitats upon which endangered species depend. And, as animals which eat bamboo almost exclusively, pandas also show us how important it is to use the right plant in the right place. While an important part of natural ecosystems in China, bamboos and other plants from that region can be invasive here in the United States.

For instance, the University of Florida has identified that golden bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea), one of the most common bamboos in the United States, is a Category 2 invasive plant in Florida. Similarly, the university has identified that heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica), another plant native to China that is not actually a bamboo despite its name, is a Category 1 invasive. According to the Florida Invasive Species Council, a Category 1 invasive plant alters “native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives.”

When native plant communities are altered, problems cascade through the ecosystem. When combined with other threats like habitat destruction and fragmentation, animals that have a specialized diet may struggle to survive.

So, with thoughts of peace, friendship, and hope that are so closely aligned with pandas, why not take a look at UF’s list of alternatives to invasive plants? You’ll find many of the natives listed for sale right here at Little Red Wagon Native Nursery. Remember, together we can #NurtureNative.