F - Flora

A total of 795 species of plants were recorded for New Garden Township either during this survey or during the above-mentioned earlier surveys. Natives include 493 species, or 62% of the total, while 302 species, or 38%, are alien or introduced. For comparison, the average of 10 other Township surveys is 828 total species and 33.1% aliens. Along with neighboring London Grove Township, New Garden has a relatively low number of total species and an above-average percentage of aliens. Both townships have mostly gently rolling topography and good soils that were easily farmed or built on.

Counted in the 302 aliens are 9 introductions, or species native to the region but not the Township, that are frequently planted as ornamentals, or as part of meadow or wetland restorations or re-creations. These species occasionally spread beyond the original plantings, and generally occur in combinations or situations that are obviously not representative of the local flora.

Of the 493 natives, 133 species, or 27% of the total native flora, were observed in only one or two sections, which is fairly typical for a township survey. Regionally, a number are species once considered frequent or common in the county (see A Flora of Chester County) have declined drastically and are now in danger of disappearing, not only from the Township but in many cases the entire region. There are several reasons for local rarity. First, some of these species require habitats with specific soil chemistries, temperatures, or moisture conditions that are uncommon in the Township. Second, others are at or near the edge of their ranges (mostly southern species). Additional reasons for native species decline include habitat loss from housing development and changes in land use and/or management, both of which have played a role in both native species reduction and disappearance., as well as the introduction of invasive aliens, the explosion in the deer population, and a decline in pollinators. Looking at the low native species count and lists for surrounding townships it appears that New Garden Township has already lost a good number of native species, and without protection, proper management, and in some cases restoration of habitat, the losses will continue. For a complete list of these species, please see Appendix 1, New Garden Township Plant List.