Native plants are important to North Carolina's ecosystem, not only the obvious reason: they provide food (nuts and berries) and shelter for birds. But the less obvious part native plants play is the delicate balance of insects, which nearly all the birds of our beautiful state need to feed their young. It's important to balance out the abundance of non-natives because unfortunately, according to the National Audubon Society: "Though often pretty, nonnatives ultimately do not provide enough resources, particularly insects, to feed baby birds and sustain healthy bird populations. Adult birds are adaptable and will readily eat the fruits of nonnative plants. Most insects, however, are not as flexible and do not feed on nonnative plants. With fewer insects, baby birds starve-and bird populations plummet."
I recently attended a meeting of the NC Native Plant Society and learned a shocking statistic: 1 in 5 North American native birds are facing extinction by 2050 due to climate change. That's about 314 species of birds.