Recommended Native Trees for North Carolina Coastal Plain Region
About 25 percent of the plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.
North Carolina is divided into three ecological regions: the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and the Mountains. Each region provides a rich variety of ecological habitats, supporting over 4,000 native plant species.
The Coastal Plain is characterized by flat land to gently rolling hills and valleys. It is divided into two sections: the tidewater area (lower Coastal Plain), which is largely flat and swampy, and the interior portion (upper Coastal Plain), which is made up of gently sloping elevations and is better drained. The upper Coastal Plain encompasses the Sandhills ecoregion, which is characterized by rolling hills capped by deep coarse sands. The Coastal Plain covers about 45% of the area of the state.
The Coastal Plain is home to many species of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants. Noted for its short, mild winters and sultry summers, it can also support many non-native species which are beginning to make their way across the landscape. Regrettably, some of these exotic immigrants are invasive and are threatening the native flora and ecology of the state.
According to the U.S Forest Service, invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species. Invasive species compete directly with native species for moisture, sunlight, nutrients, and space. They displace and alter native plant communities, degrade wildlife habitat and water quality, and potentially lead to increased soil erosion.
The federal government has estimated that nearly 25 percent of the 20,000 plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction, many of these through habitat loss. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.
A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region or ecosystem without human introduction. There are many benefits to growing native plants.
- First, these plants are better adapted to soils, moisture, and weather than exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world. They need fewer fertilizers, and pesticides or use less water.
- Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitats.
- Third, they support wildlife, providing shelter and food for native birds and insects, while exotic plants do not.
Here is a list of North Carolina native trees that are well-suited for plantings in the Coastal Plain Region.
- Never collect native plants from the wild as it will deplete natural ecosystems.
- When possible, plant species grown straight from local seed sources. These native originals are the best choice, as they co-evolved with specific wildlife, which supports migration, breeding, and other seasonal interdependencies.
Leonora (Ellie) Enking, Flickr
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.