Native Plants / Washington
Washington State 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.
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.
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.
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. Upright in sunny locations, it takes a delicate horizontal habit in the shade.
Popular on the Pacific Coast, Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) is a large deciduous tree of upright habit with a broad, rounded crown of massive, spreading branches, steeply inclined at the tips. Emerging burgundy in spring, the deeply-lobed leaves, up to 12 in. across (30 cm), mature to dark green before turning brilliant shades of orange and yellow in the fall. These leaves are the biggest ever found on any species of maple, hence the common name.
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.
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.
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).
Agastache foeniculum (Anise Hyssop) is an upright, clump-forming perennial with attractive spikes of small, tubular, lavender to purple flowers from early summer to early fall. Adding lovely vertical lines to the landscape, they are attractive to bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and beneficial insects.
Robust and long-lived, Agastache urticifolia (Nettleleaf Giant Hyssop) is a tall, herbaceous, strongly aromatic, perennial boasting dense flowering spikes, 6 in. long (15 cm), packed with tiny, white to rose or violet flowers with protruding stamens. Blooming in early to late summer, they are borne atop stout, square, glabrous leafy stems. They are a nectar source for many bees, moths, hummingbirds and butterflies, including monarch butterflies.
Fast-growing, Alnus rhombifolia (White Alder) is a medium-sized deciduous tree of graceful habit with a straight trunk, and a pyramidal crown in youth, becoming more oval with age. The slender, horizontal branches spread out, then droop at the tips. The ash gray bark is thin and smooth on young trees, becoming scaly on mature trees. The foliage of broadly ovate, finely toothed leaves, 4 in. long (10 cm), emerges apple green before turning glossy dark green.
Fast-growing, Alnus rubra (Red Alder) is a medium-sized deciduous tree of graceful habit with a straight trunk and a pointed or rounded crown with rather pendulous branches. The thin bark is smooth, mottled, light gray to whitish, and often covered with green moss. The wood, when bruised, turns a rusty red color, which is how the tree gets its name. The foliage of ovate, dark green leaves is rust-colored and hairy beneath, with coarsely toothed margins that are rolled under.