Native Plants / Kansas
Kansas Native Plants
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.
Sweetly fragrant, Abronia fragrans (Fragrant Sand Verbena) is an upright or sprawling herbaceous perennial adorned with showy snowballs, 3 in. across (7 cm), packed with 25-70 funnel-shaped flowers. Blooming from spring through early fall, the vanilla scented flowers are usually white, but are sometimes green, lavender or pink.
Hardy and fast-growing, Acer negundo (Box Elder) is a suckering, vigorous, deciduous tree of upright habit with an irregular rounded canopy of widely spreading branches. The opposite, pinnately compound, light green leaves are composed of 3-7 leaflets, 6-15 in. long (15-37 cm), which turn a dull yellow in the fall.
Noted for its spectacular fall color, Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple) is a large, deciduous tree with a straight trunk, wide-spreading branches and a dense, oval to rounded crown. Its foliage of five-lobed leaves, 3-6 in. (7-15 cm) ranges from medium to dark green in summer, and changes to a brilliant palette of yellows, oranges, and reds in the fall.
Perfect for shade gardens, Actaea rubra (Red Baneberry) is herbaceous perennial forming bushy clumps of finely divided, bright green foliage, enhanced by clusters of small fluffy white flowers in late spring and early summer. Borne on conspicuous red stems which rise above the foliage, they give way to pea-sized glossy scarlet berries in summer.
Aesculus glabra (Ohio Buckeye) is a small to medium-sized deciduous tree of rounded habit with a dense canopy of dark green leaves adorned with 5-7 leaflets. Its low, sweeping branches bend toward the ground and then arch back up, creating a rounded outline. In mid to late spring, greenish-yellow flowers are borne in 4-7 in. panicles (10-17 cm) but are often almost lost among the leaves.
An exclamation mark in the landscape throughout the winter, Agastache nepetoides (Yellow Giant Hyssop) is a tall herbaceous perennial boasting vertical spikes, 4-16 in. long (10-40 cm), packed with tiny, pale yellow flowers. Blooming for about 1-2 months from mid-summer to fall, they are borne atop stiff, square stems and attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators.
Allium stellatum (Prairie Onion) is a bulbous perennial forming a very compact clump of flat, slender, grass-like green leaves, 12 in. long (30 cm). From mid-summer to early fall, profuse, rounded umbels, 3-4 in. across (7-10 cm), tightly packed with rose-pink to lavender flowers are borne atop leafless stems just above the foliage.
Most attractive, Alnus serrulata (Smooth Alder) is a large, spreading deciduous shrub or small tree of pyramidal habit with a densely branched canopy. Its multi-stemmed trunks are covered with shiny gray-brown bark. The foliage of undulating, elliptic to obovate, glossy green leaves, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), turns yellow-brown in the fall. In early to mid-spring, long, pendant, pale yellow male catkins, 4 in. long (10 cm), dangle like Christmas decorations near the bare branch tips.
Early-flowering, Amelanchier arborea (Downy Serviceberry) is a large deciduous shrub or small tree of rounded habit boasting a profusion of 5-petaled, showy, slightly fragrant, white flowers in early to mid-spring. Borne in drooping clusters, they appear before the leaves emerge.
Native to North America, Amorpha canescens (Lead Plant) is a lovely rounded deciduous shrub with small, grayish green, aromatic, feathery leaves and spikes of tiny, bluish-purple flowers with gold anthers. Blooming for 3 weeks in late spring to early summer, the flower spikes to 4 in. long (10 cm) are rich in nectar and attract bees, butterflies, moths and other beneficial insects.
Native to North America, Amorpha fruticosa (Indigo Bush) is a vigorous deciduous shrub of upright-spreading habit with bright green leaves composed of up to 35 spiny-tipped, oval leaflets. In late spring to early summer, showy racemes, up to 6 in. long (15 cm), of small, scented, purplish blue flowers with protruding stamens and orange-yellow anthers are on display.