A fist-sized white flower, with wide, overlapping, petals, has bloomed.
The native Tulip Poplar tree has a beautiful flower and unique leaves.

NPS Photo.

Native & Non-Native Plant Species:

A native plant is a plant that has existed in this region before colonization by Europeans in the 1630s. A non-native plant is a plant that has been introduced to an area by human activity, meaning anything that came with those early European settlers, along with those have settled in this region beyond. One tricky bit of information to remember here is: not all non-native plants are invasive, but all invasive plants are non-native. Invasive species are non-native and exhibit rapid growth and have other traits that allow them to spread more easily, and overtake native species. Invasive species can cause serious impacts on the native ecosystem.

Today, in the Brandywine Valley unit of First State NHP, we can see other non-native plant species that have been introduced from Asia, Africa, and other European countries. The Botanical Inventory completed in 2015 concluded that approximately two-thirds of the total number of individual plant species found within the park’s boundary are native, and one-third of the total number of individual plant species found within the park’s boundary are non-native. However, even though there are fewer individual non-native plant species in total, they are located more frequently throughout the park than the native plant species, and are aggressively overpowering the native species.


Other Things to Take Into Account When Learning About Plant Species:

What’s Below:
Northern Delaware sits within the Piedmont Plateau Region, which has a unique geological composition – or in other words, the types of minerals found within a rock and the overall chemical makeup of those rocks. The Piedmont Plateau influences the plant communities found in this part of the region. For example: trees that grow in Maine are different from the trees that grow in Florida, and different from trees that grow in Arizona; all because of what’s underneath, in the minerals and chemicals in those rocks.

The Wildlife:
When non-native plants displace native plant species, it causes changes in the arrangement of the local plant communities. This directly affects animal habitats and animal behaviors, such as foraging and grazing, and also impacts the abundance of wildlife within the park.

Climate Change:
Managing the spread of non-native plant species and restoring native plant species is extremely difficult and can be very challenging, but is super important. The more non-native plants are present in a given area compared to native plants, other threats, like climate change, intensify the impacts on the local ecosystem, because things are out of balance. Native plants are better equipped to handle changes in the environment, because they are in their home-habitat.

Last updated: June 26, 2020

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First State National Historical Park
10 Market Street

New Castle, DE 19720


To speak to a park ranger, call the park Welcome Center (302-317-3854) and someone will return your call as soon as possible. For a more immediate response, please email the park at

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