Native Plants / Virginia
Virginia 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.
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.
An attractive and versatile tree for the home landscape, Acer floridanum (Florida Maple) is a medium-sized to large deciduous tree with an oval to rounded crown of moderate density. Its foliage of opposite, simple, palmately lobed leaves, 2-4 in. (5-10 cm), features 3-5 somewhat rounded lobes. Dark green above and paler underneath in summer, the leaves change to a brilliant palette of yellows, oranges, and reds 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.
Ideal for wet areas, Acorus calamus (Sweet Flag) is a spreading, marginal aquatic perennial forming a tuft of erect, sword-shaped, bright green leaves adorned with one slightly wavy edge and a prominent midrib. In late spring, this plant bears inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers in finger-like inflorescences, 2-4 in. long (5-10 cm), which give way to tiny, reddish berries. Both the crushed foliage and rootstocks have a pleasant aromatic fragrance. A great choice for naturalizing, Sweet Flag is quite versatile in the garden and makes a decorative foliage accent in water gardens and around ponds.
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.
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.
Award-winning Aesculus flava (Yellow Buckeye) is a large deciduous tree of upright-oval to oval-rounded habit with immense secondary branches clothed in palmate compound leaves divided into 5-7 dark green leaflets. In mid to late spring, greenish yellow flowers are borne in erect panicles, 6 in. long (15), but are often almost lost among the leaves.
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 from mid-summer to fall, they are borne atop stiff, square stems and attract bees, butterflies, and other beneficial pollinators.