As a native plant novice, or someone looking to expand their newly found knowledge in native plants. It can seem daunting and intimidating to participate in events, webinars, and talks with so much jargon in use. We’ve recognized that using this jargon can be exclusive and we would like to change that!

We have moved our glossary to the ‘About Native Plants’ section of our website and have added new words. When I first came onto the Deep Roots team, I had no concrete knowledge of native plants other than, they were good for the environment. In my onboarding meetings, I had to create a sheet in my journal dedicated solely to vocabulary words that I did not understand or had not ever heard of before. I’ll admit, I felt some embarrassment for not knowing these words but I’ve never been too shy to ask questions about the unknown. Questions like what is a bioswale and what does it do? Or what is a remnant prairie?

While my novice status on the team does present some challenges, I’m comforted knowing the native plant community that I have encountered so far has always been open to sharing knowledge.

What are some words that you had trouble with at the beginning of your research and education on native plants? What are some words that need demystifying?

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To the experts reading this article, consider using plain language when speaking to individuals that may or may not know the native plant jargon or simply define jargon as you move through your presentation. The decision to use jargon can be harmful when communicating a message about why native plants are beneficial. When the expert thinks they have been clear in their message, and the novice believes they have understood clearly, they can both be wrong. This is potentially harmful when it comes to educating people about why native plants are important because we are not always addressing experts. We are often speaking to beginners that have heard about the good of native plants and want to learn more.

Check out the new words added to our glossary and let us know if we have missed any!


Photo Credit: Matt Garrett – Ernie Miller Prairie – Liatris