Around the Island

Mashomack Musings: Functional Flora


Have you ever stopped to admire a beautiful flower and noticed that you are not the only one taking an interest? The flowers and leaves of native plants are some of the most productive food sources for bees, wasps, butterflies and larvae of countless other pollinators — the most welcome visitors to our newly established “Mini Meadow.”

Not only do pollinators and other wildlife benefit from the shelter and nourishment native plants provide, but native plants also reduce the toll on the environment and your bank account.

When you choose plants that are specifically adapted to your climate and region, they inherently require less work, fertilizer, watering and maintenance. This means less polluting nitrogen entering our waterways from fertilizer runoff and more time for you to sit back and watch the thriving ecosystem hovering above the plant line.

Here at Mashomack, we strive to support pollinators, mitigate human impacts and preserve the natural beauty of the landscape by removing invasive species and replacing them with native plants that will give back to both pollinators and the public. Many of these insects are currently under threat as their habitat and nesting sites are being transformed into manicured lawns and non-native gardens.

With about 35% of the world’s food crops dependent on pollinators for reproduction, it serves us to make sure these critical critters have a sanctuary of native plants to support them for generations to come. After a successful summer, visitors can now see our efforts come to fruition as brightly colored goldenrod blooms at Mashomack’s new “Mini Meadow.”

Located by the Visitor Center, this new attraction is a small-scale and accessible representation of the expansive grasslands that can be found throughout the preserve.

You don’t have to wait for your next visit to Mashomack, however, to experience the value that native plants have to offer. According to Mini Meadow designer Tim Purtell, president of Shelter Island Friends of Trees, everyone has the potential to make a difference with native plants right from their own home.

By choosing them over non-native and invasive species, you are directly contributing to the conservation of local flora and fauna while creating a yard to be proud of.

Mashomack is owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature thrive. Our mission is to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. To learn more, visit