How Native Plants Aid the Environment
Industrialization and urbanization have contributed to increased levels of heavy metals in the environment. The increased levels of heavy metals in the atmosphere and soil have raised concerns globally. Heavy metals are environmentally stable elements characterized by high atomic weight. The metals are essential to life but are environmental pollutants. The most common heavy metals that pollute the environment include mercury, lead, copper, nickel, chromium, cadmium, and arsenic.
These metals originate from industrial effluents, metal mining and smelting, sewage sludge, fossil fuel burning, electroplating, and pesticides and phosphate fertilizers for agricultural purposes. Heavy metals contribute to environmental pollution and thus pose significant threats to plants and human health. Heavy metals threaten plants by severely affecting various physiological and biochemical processes that enable them to make food and live. The metals also affect human health by contributing to multiple issues, such as gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction, nervous system disorders, and cancer. The appropriate measure to prevent polluting the atmosphere and soil is by using native plants.
Native plants serve as bio-indicators of environmental pollution, clean the environment and help improve soil fertility. Native plants indicate high levels of heavy metals and other toxic substances in the atmosphere or soil by undergoing various changes, such as chlorosis, necrosis, bleaching, and chlorotic mottling. Chlorosis is the discoloration of plant leaves, implying that the leaves lose the standard green color.
The occurrence of chlorosis in native plants depicts Sulphur oxide pollution. Necrosis is the damage of plant tissue, especially in a localized area. The occurrence of necrosis indicates hydrogen fluoride pollution. Bleaching is the whitening or discoloration of native plant leaves, and its occurrence indicates nitrogen oxide pollution. Chlorotic mottling leads to partial chlorosis and reduced leave size. The occurrence of chlorotic mottling in native plants indicates di-chlorine atmospheric pollution.
Native plants clean the environment and improve soil fertility by absorbing heavy metals in the atmosphere and soil through their leaves and roots. Native plants absorb heavy metals by extending their roots and creating an ecosystem that enables them to perform their roles. The highlighted approach helps native plants reclaim polluted soil and stabilize its fertility. Using native plants to prevent atmospheric and soil pollution has numerous merits. The method is economically feasible, environmentally friendly, can be used on a large scale, and improve soil fertility by preventing soil pollution by absorbing heavy metals and releasing organic matters.
Moss a Native Plant Beneficial
Mosses are essential for biomonitoring environmental and soil pollution and cleaning air. Mosses help detect atmospheric heavy metal deposition in the atmosphere across all ecosystems, including terrestrial ecosystems. They can absorb most pollutants, including heavy metals because they lack complex regulatory mechanisms resulting from a lack of real root and vascular systems like vascular plants. In air pollution, heavy metals and radioisotopes affect mosses' chloroplast ultra-structures, thus affecting their membrane properties. The resulting consequence of such a process is protein degradation and limitation of the capacity of ionic transport, which later trigger the cell death process.
Chlorophyll fluorescence changes in mosses indicate the presence of pollutants, such as heavy metals in the atmosphere or soil. Mosses clean the air by absorbing impurities from the atmosphere and precipitation. Mosses absorb most contaminants through the whole surface because their leaves lack protective cuticles. Mosses' leaves also have a layer of cells, which provide them with a large surface area that enables them to absorb heavy metals and other toxic substances from the atmosphere. The benefits of mosses in biomonitoring and cleaning the air is that they quickly absorb pollutants compared to native plants, are economically feasible, and can be used on a large scale. The types of mosses used for biomonitoring, assessing air quality, and cleaning the air include carpet moss, cushion moss, sheet moss, mood moss, and sphagnum moss.
Carpet moss: This is an evergreen and rootless plant that grows into a living carpet of golden green in its youth and turns dark green as it ages. The moss's leaves grow parallel to each other and slim to a point at the end, which is not sharp. The highlighted characteristics give carpet moss an ideal green layer that draws an individual's attention. Carpet moss can cover up light sources and blocks, and in gardens and lawns, grasses do not grow without enough moisture.
Image 1: Carpet moss
Cushion moss: Belongs to the white moss family. Cushion moss often grows to a length that ranges from 50 cm to 1 meter. The size of its leaves ranges from 5 mm to 9 mm. The moss is distinguishable from other mosses due to its colour and murky close-packed tufts or cushions. The moss's colour is medium to greyish-green. Cushion moss mainly forms clumps in moist areas or swampy areas.
Image 2: Cushion moss
Sheet moss: This is a natural organic moss harvested on the floor of old-growth forests. The moss is a decorative soil cover that hides drab soil in house plant pots and makes various arts and crafts. Individuals can use scissors to cut and shape cushion moss into an ideal art or style they need. Sheet moss likes to grow on rocks, logs, and other plants. The height of sheet moss is often under 3 feet.
Image 3: Sheet moss
Mood moss: Belongs to the craned species. This moss grows in tufts or mats, especially in moist or dry wooded regions. The height of mood moss ranges between 3-4 inches. Mood moss is mainly identified by its curved leaves, with colours that go from yellowish-green to dark green. This moss-like grows under tree shades.
Image 4: Mood moss
Sphagnum moss: This is an utterly unique and fascinating genus of bog-dwelling plants. The moss helps improve soil aeration and loosen compact soils. Additional benefits of sphagnum moss are that it can store and retain significant moisture in its cells, absorb cations like magnesium and calcium and release hydrogen ions. As sphagnum moss grows, it expands into drier areas, thus generating huge mires, including raised and blanket bogs.
Image 5: Sphagnum moss
Individuals can buy the mosses at https://www.tnnursery.net/moss-for-sale/.
Some hardy native plant choices, click to purchase