Native Plants / Oklahoma
Oklahoma 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 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.
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 lovely fall color, Acer rubrum (Red Maple) is a relatively fast-growing deciduous tree of pyramidal habit when young, becoming rounded to oval at maturity. In early spring, tiny red flowers, borne in erect clusters, appear before the leaves and are followed by red fruit. Emerging red tinged in spring, the leaves change to dark green with whitish undersides and often develop dazzling yellows and red in the fall. This Red Maple also provides some winter interest, with its attractive, smooth gray bark, often ridged and furrowed with age.
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.
Adiantum capillus-veneris (Southern Maidenhair Fern) is a slowly spreading, semi-evergreen fern forming a mound of gently arching or pendant, twice divided, delicate fronds adorned with wiry, black stems.
Aesculus pavia (Red Buckeye) is a large deciduous shrub or small tree of rounded habit with a dense canopy of brilliant dark green leaves, each divided into 5 narrow leaflets. In mid to late spring, erect panicles, 6 in. long (15 cm), of rich red flowers appear above the foliage for a cheerful display.
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 in 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). In midsummer 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.
An excellent substitute for spinach, Amaranthus viridis (Slender Amaranth) is a vigourous, erect annual or short-lived perennial with a slender branched stem and deeply veined leaves, up to 6 in. long (15 cm), with a long leaf stalk. Occasionally eaten as a cooked vegetable, the leaves are diuretic and purgative and used in poultices to treat inflammations.