According to scientists, those plants whose ancestors arrived in the Marshall Islands without human help are called native or indigenous plants. This happened when seeds and spores arrived by wind, or on migrating birds, ocean currents, or floating plant material.
Native plants and animals found in only one particular place or region are known as endemic.
Plants brought into the Marshall Islands by people (on purpose or by accident) are referred to as alien or introduced. Most of these plants were brought to provide food, fiber (for clothing, housing, canoe building, etc.), and medicine.
The Marshall Islands was one of the few areas in the world where no traditional psychoactive substances were consumed before recent times, either because the necessary plants were not present or because the process of obtaining an intoxicating drink from a plant was not part of their cultural practice.
Scientists who study the traditional knowledge and use of plants in different societies are known as ethnobotanists . In addition to food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and medicine, plants have provided a great many other things that people now either buy in stores, or do without.