Plants play a vital role in supporting other wildlife, providing essential elements such as food, water, oxygen, and habitat. Many living things take up residence in or on plants, including birds, mammals, amphibians, and even fungi like mushrooms or molds.
Plants are producers, using the energy of the sun to make seeds, cones, and spores to reproduce, while fungi are decomposers that break down decaying matter. Fungi create a fruiting body, the part of the mushroom we see aboveground that release spores to reproduce.
Plants and fungi are naturally organized into communities called biomes. Biomes are large geographic regions defined by climate conditions such as light, temperature, and precipitation. Biomes in North American include the temperate deciduous forests of the northern states, the prairie the Midwest, and the desert of the Southwest.
Trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses are all examples of plant types. A plant can be annual (living for one season), biennial (living for two years), or perennial (living for many years). Diseases, invasive species, and habitat loss are some of the factors posing a threat to plant populations in the United States. Using native plants in gardening and landscaping is a way to help re-establish habitats for local animals—such as the monarch butterfly—and minimize threats from invasive species. Exotic or ornamental plants that aren't native to the United States, and are often planted for decorative elements, do not support wildlife as well as native plants.
Woody perennial plants with trunks
|Bald Cypress||California Bay Laurel|
|Douglas Fir||Fremont Cottonwood|
|Great Basin Bristlecone Pine||Joshua Tree|
|Longleaf Pine||Quaking Aspen|
|Red Mangrove||Red Maple|
|Shagbark Hickory||Southern Live Oak|
When it comes to attracting beautiful butterflies and birds to your outdoor space, the best thing you can do is use native plants. Discover the best native plants for your area, based on the scientific research of Dr. Douglas Tallamy.
The National Wildlife Federation is providing resources to help families and caregivers across the country provide meaningful educational opportunities and safe outdoor experiences for children during these incredibly difficult times.Learn More
President and CEO Collin O’Mara reveals in a TEDx Talk why it is essential to connect our children and future generations with wildlife and the outdoors—and how doing so is good for our health, economy, and environment.Watch Now
Ditch the disposables and make the switch to sustainable products.Shop Now
Search, discover, and learn about wildlife. Anywhere, any time.Get the Apps
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.