The Difference Between Rare and Exotic Plants

Landscapers, gardeners, and plant enthusiasts seek after both rare and exotic plants. However not everyone knows the difference between rare and exotic plants. Exotic plants can be rare but not every rare plant is necessarily exotic. On the same hand, not every exotic plant is rare to its native locale. In this article you will read a brief explanation of the difference between rare and exotic plants. Also covered will be some examples of both found, for the purposes of this article, in North America.

Definition of Rare And Exotic Plants

A rare plant is simply a plant that is found in only very small amounts in a particular region. Sometimes a plant is just sparsely growing but sometimes the actions of humans have cut down the plant population causing it to become endangered or threatened under the definition of IUCN. Occasionally the term 'rare' will be applied to a species of plant by a government department but most often it is a social distinction given to rare, or exotic plants.

An exotic plant is a title given to any plant that does not natively grow in an area. Most exotic plants are also rare in the area they are transferred to but they may be very common to their native location. This technical definition isn't always abided by and some gardeners, even those with the knowledge to know better, refer to plants with unusual shapes or colors as exotic.

Rare North American Plants

Baker's larkspur is one example of a plant that has become rare due to environmental causes. The baker's larkspur is a relative of the buttercup and a native of California. Road construction is blamed for the dramatic decrease in the baker's larkspur population. Another example of a beautiful flower threatened by the conditions in California is the Hickman's potentilla. This flowering herb is considered one of the many species endangered by the increase in the population of Northern California.

Exotic North American Plants

Morning glories are a beautiful, fragrant flower with a deep blue petal color and brighter colored stripes shooting out from the center. Although they are grown in North American, they are not native to the region. Bamboo is a popular exotic plant that has taken well to transplanting in North America. In fact some bamboo enthusiasts paid dearly when aggressive bamboo plants took over their yards and sent shoots that cracked foundations and strangled other existing vegetation. Bonsai trees are a welcome exotic plant to North American households. The tiny tree provide not only a lovely decoration but the trimming of the trees can be a soothing past-time.

As you can see rare and exotic plants can be easily confused with each other. The good thing is that both terms have become so commonplace that most people won't even notice of mind if you use the wrong word!