Recommended Native Trees for North Carolina Mountain 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, the Piedmont and the Mountains. Each region provides a rich variety of ecological habitats, supporting over 4,000 native plant species.
The Mountain region includes all portions of the Southern Appalachian Mountains that occur west of the Blue Ridge Escarpment. It is a deeply dissected mountainous area of numerous steep mountain ridges, intermontane basins and trench valleys that intersect and give the area its rugged mountain character. The Blue Ridge contains the highest elevations and the most rugged topography in the Appalachian Mountain system of eastern North America. The Mountain region covers about 10% of the area of the state.
The Mountain region 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 for 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 in 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 less fertilizers, pesticides or use less water.
- Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitat.
- 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 Mountain 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 interdependency.
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.