Native Plants / United States
United States 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.
Abies fraseri (Fraser Fir) is a medium-sized evergreen conifer of narrow, pyramidal habit with a spire-like crown and resinous stems densely clad with flattened, short, turpentine-scented needles, shiny dark green above with two silver bands beneath. The seed cones, up to 3 in. long (7 cm), are dark purple when young turning light brown with conspicuously protruding bracts. Held upright along the branches, they create a lovely contrast against the deep green foliage.
One of the tallest firs in the world, Abies grandis (Grand Fir) is a large evergreen conifer of narrow, conical habit becoming round-topped or straggly with age. Its spreading and drooping branches are densely clad with sharp-tipped needles, shiny dark green above with two silver bands beneath. The needles are arranged in 2 distinct, flattened rows. They exude an orange aroma when crushed.
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.
A good choice for dune areas, Abronia latifolia (Yellow Sand Verbena) is a trailing perennial forming a succulent mat of fleshy, oval to rounded leaves. In late spring to late summer, showy snowballs packed with small, fragrant, bright golden flowers rise on sturdy stems in the leaf axils of the trailing stems. If given the proper conditions, it will flower most of the year.
Prized for its highly fragrant flowers, Acacia farnesiana (Sweet Acacia) is a semi-evergreen multi-trunked shrub or small tree with a naturally spreading, vaselike shape. Its zig-zag stems are fully armed with sharp thorns and clad with feathery, finely divided leaflets of a soft green color. Clouds of small, bright golden-yellow, puff-like flowers, 1/2 in. (1 cm), appear in clusters in late winter to early spring, then sporadically after each new flush of growth, providing a long-lasting floral display.
Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) is most commonly grown as a spreading bushy large shrub, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree. Low-branched, multi-stemmed in habit, it usually develops multi-trunks with bright, reddish-green bark. Beautifully colored in most seasons, its broad foliage canopy, elegantly displayed in tiered pattern, emerges bright green in spring and warms up to attractive shades of orange and red in the fall.
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.
Striking all summer long, award-winning Actaea racemosa (Black Cohosh) is a beautiful perennial with deep green, finely divided foliage, enhanced by gracefully arching wands of fragrant white flowers in late summer and fall. The blooms are packed in fluffy spikes, up to 2 ft. long (60 cm), which rise well above the foliage, and mature into attractive seed pods.
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.
Incredibly attractive, Adiantum aleuticum (Maidenhair Fern) is a deciduous or semi-evergreen, perennial fern with graceful, bright green fronds which open like the fingers of a hand atop upright, shiny, purple-black wiry stems. Each finger is further divided into a series of triangular segments (pinnules).