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Regional Examples

There are hundreds of plants native to the many different eco-regions of the United States, which might make it hard to know where to start when it comes to deciding what plants might work in your yard. We’ve put together the top 10 common native plants by larger geographic regions.

Garden in CA, JKehoe Photos Flickr

 

Western Hemlock
(Tsuga heterophylla)

The western hemlock is the largest hemlock, with long, slender, often fluted trunk. It produces cones that hang down at the ends of twigs. Cones produce paired, long-winged seeds.

Did you know? Western Hemlock is one of the most common trees in the Pacific Northwest, forming vast, dense groves. This important timber species is one of the best pulpwoods and a source of alpha cellulose for making cellophane, rayon yarns, and plastics. Indians of southeastern Alaska used to make coarse bread from the inner bark.


Alaska Cedar 
(Chamaecyparis nootkatensis)

The Alaska cedar has a narrow crown and horizontal or slightly drooping branches. Leaves are evergreen and are bright yellow-green in color.

Did you know? The durable wood of the Alaska cedar has a pleasant, resinous odor. It is used for furniture, interior finish, and boats. Northwest Coast Indians made canoe paddles from the wood and carved ceremonial masks from the trunks.


Black Cottonwood 
(Populus balsamifera)

The tallest native cottonwood, the black cottonwood has an open crown of erect branches and sticky, resinous buds with a balsam odor. Black cottonwoods bear catkins, small clusters of tiny flowers. The catkins mature into fruit, which split open and disperse many cottony seeds.

Did you know? Black cottonwood is the tallest native western hardwood. The current champion in Yamhill County, Oregon, measures 147' (44.8 m) in height, 30.2' (9.2 m) in trunk circumference, and 97' (29.6 m) in crown spread. The wood is used for boxes and crates, pulpwood, and excelsior.


Salmonberry
(Rubus spectabilis)

Also known as the salmon raspberry, the salmonberry is an erect or sometimes leaning shrub with weakly armed stems, bright pink flowers, and yellow or salmon-red fruits that resemble a cultivated blackberry in all but color. The fruit is juicy and slightly sweet.

Did you know? On moist, sunny slopes in the Cascades, Salmonberry can form impenetrable thickets. The juicy fruit, which looks like a yellow or orange blackberry, is a welcome trailside snack, though too bland for some tastes. Indians ate not only the berries but also the tender young shoots. Numerous birds and animals also feast on the fruits, which may be abundant in good years. The deep pink flowers are distinctive and may occur along with the fruits.


Common Snowberry
(Symphoricarpos albus)

This hollow-stemmed shrub has tiny, pinkish-white, bell-shaped flowers.

Did you know? This plant was once popular in old-fashioned dooryard gardens; variety laevigatus of this shrub is also cultivated. Two other species are often encountered: Coralberry (S. orbiculatus), with sessile, axillary, purplish-green flowers and showy clusters of pink berries; and Wolfberry (S. occidentalis) a dry prairie shrub with pale pink flowers, leathery, oval leaves, and greenish-white fruit.


Nootka Rose 
(Rosa nutkana)

The Nootka rose is a thorny shrub with pale pink flowers with the largest (often only) thorns in pairs near leaf stalks. This plant produces reddish-purple berry-like fruit.

Did you know? The hips, or fruit, of any wild roses may be eaten and are often used to make jams and jellies.


Bunchberry
(Cornus canadensis)

Bunchberry grows in extensive low patches, with one bunch of leaves at top and just above that, a cluster of tiny greenish flowers surrounded by 4 ovate white or pinkish bracts. The flower cluster resembles a single large flower held on a short stalk above leaves. Bunchberry produces bright red, round berries in a tight cluster.

Did you know? Among the smallest of a genus of mostly shrubs and trees, Bunchberry makes an excellent ground cover in the moist woodland garden, and is equally attractive in flower or fruit. This showy wildflower and Northern Dwarf Cornel (C. suecica) of the northern forests are the only herbs in the dogwood group.


Heartleaf Arnica 
(Arnica cordifolia)

The heartleaf arnica has stems with 2-4 pairs of heart-shaped leaves that are topped by 1-3 broad yellow heads. This plant flowers from April to June, occasionally flowering to September.

Did you know? In alpine areas or in open places along roads, the leaves may be narrower and without the notch at the base of the blade. All western species have paired leaves on the stems, but only this one has heart-shaped leaves.


Broadleaf Fireweed 
(Chamerion latifolium)

Also known as dwarf fireweed and river beauty, broadlead fireweed is a low, bushy plant with clustered stems 4-16 inches tall. They bear pairs of somewhat waxy, bluish-green, lance-shaped leaves which increase in length up the stem. At the end of the leaves is a group of large, four-petaled, rose-purple flowers.

Did you know? Broadleaf Fireweed is a member of the evening-primrose family. The family of about 17 genera and 675 species is found worldwide, but is especially abundant in temperate regions of the New World.


Douglas Aster
(Symphyotrichum subspicatum)

Douglas aster is a patch-forming perennial aster with hairy stems and purple flowers.

Did you know? This Northwest native grows in both fresh and saline situations. It is a handsome plant with pretty late summer flowers. It is often offered in native plant nurseries.

Northern White Cedar
(Thuja occidentalis)

The northern white cedar is a resinous and aromatic evergreen tree with an angled trunk and a narrow, conical crown of short, spreading branches. Evergreen leaves are short and pointed, bark is light red-brown and cones are long and light brown and bear two tiny narrow-winged seeds.

Did you know? Northern white cedars grow slowly and can reach an age of 400 years or more. The lightweight, easily split wood was preferred for canoe frames by Native Americans, who also used the shredded outer bark and the soft wood to start fires. Today, the wood is used principally for poles, cross-ties, posts, and lumber. Cedar oil for medicine is distilled from the twigs.


Black Oak 
(Quercus velutina)

The black oak tree is a medium-sized to large tree with an open, spreading crown, reaching heights of 50-80 feet. Black oak acorns are poisonous to animals. Humans should generally avoid ingesting plants that are toxic to animals.

Did you know? Easily distinguishable by the yellow or orange inner bark, formerly a source of tannin, of medicine, and of a yellow dye for cloth. Peeled bark was dried, pounded to powder, and the dye sifted out.


Northern Hackberry 
(Celtis occidentalis)

The northern hackberry, also known as the common hackberry, has a rounded crown of spreading or slightly drooping branches, often deformed as bushy growths called witches' brooms. This tree can reach heights of 90 feet. Bears fruit that matures in autumn.

Did you know? Many birds, including quail, pheasants, woodpeckers, and cedar waxwings, consume the sweetish fruits.


Cranberry Viburnum
(Viburnum opulus var. americanum)

The cranberry viburnum, also known as the highbush cranberry or American cranberrybush, is a medium to large shrub with dense upright or arching branches that create a round outline. Large, showy white outer flowers ring each cluster. The bark is smooth and gray. Bright red, translucent, juicy berries ripen in late summer and last to early winter.

Did you know? Cranberry viburnum is an attractive native plant for the garden. The pretty, white, flat-topped clusters of flowers are followed by persistent red berries suitable for jam. The maple-like, deciduous foliage is colorful in fall.


Gray Dogwood 
(Cornus racemosa)

Gray Dogwood is a thicket-forming, deciduous shrub with greenish-white blossoms in open clusters. This shrub can grow to a height of 16 feet. Fruit is white and usually does not remain on the shrub for long.

Did you know? The fruit of this dogwood is eaten by birds and other wildlife.


Common Chokecherry
(Prunus virginiana)

The common chokecherry is a shrub or small tree, often forming dense thickets. Chokecherries are 1/4-3/8" wide and are shiny dark red or blackish in color. The seeds of chokeberries, found inside the fruits, contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person's age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size.

Did you know? Tent caterpillars (Malacosoma) often construct their silvery webs on the branches of this species.


Swamp Milkweed 
(Asclepias incarnata)

Swamp milkweed has deep pink flowers clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem, bearing numerous narrow leaves. The milkweed flowers from June to August.

Did you know? The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments.


Wild Columbine 
(Aquilegia canadensis)

Also known as red columbine, wild columbine has a red and yellow flower with upward spurred petals alternating with spreading, colored sepals and numerous yellow stamens hanging below the petals.

Did you know? Columbine flowers contain nectar that attracts long-tongued insects especially adapted for reaching the sweet nectar.


Cup-plant 
(Silphium perfoliatum)

The cup-plant is a course perennial that can grow to a height of 3-6 feet. Cup-plants have numerous large, yellow flowers. Each flower head has 20-30 yellow rays and darker yellow disks. Stout leaves are joined at the stem to form a small cup.

Did you know? The small cup formed by the leaves holds water and attracts birds.


New England Aster 
(Aster novae-angliae)

The New England aster is a large, stout, hairy, leafy plant with bright lavender to purplish-blue flower heads clustered at ends of branches. Asters flower from August to October.

Did you know? The flower color is variable, ranging from lavender to blue to white. A pink variety of this species is sometimes grown commercially.

Eastern Red Cedar 
(Juniperus virginiana)

The eastern red cedar is an aromatic evergreen tree. It can grow to heights of 40 - 60 feet. Evergreen leaves are dark green and scale-like. The dark blue berries are soft, juicy and sweet.

Did you know? The most widely distributed eastern conifer, native in 37 states, Eastern Red Cedar is resistant to extreme drought, heat, and cold. The aromatic wood is used for fence posts, cedar chests, cabinetwork and carvings. First observed at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564, it was prized by the colonists for building furniture, rail fences, and log cabins. Cedar oil for medicine and perfumes is obtained from the wood and leaves. The juicy "berries" are consumed by many kinds of wildlife, including the cedar waxwing, named for this tree. Red Cedar can be injurious to apple orchards because it is an alternate host for cedar-apple rust, a fungus disease.


Black Tupelo 
(Nyssa sylvatica)

The black tupelo is also known as the blackgum or sour gum tree. This tree has a dense, conical or sometimes flat-topped crown and many slender, nearly horizontal branches. The glossy foliage turns scarlet in the fall. The black tupelo bears fruit with sour pulp.

Did you know? A handsome ornamental and shade tree, Black Tupelo is also a honey plant. The juicy fruit is consumed by many birds and mammals.


Northern Red Oak 
(Quercus rubra)

The northern red oak is a large tree with a rounded crown of stout, spreading branches. This tree can grow to heights of 60 - 90 feet. Red oaks bear acorns which can be toxic to animals if eaten.

Did you know? The northernmost eastern oak, it is also the most important lumber species of red oak. Most are used for flooring, furniture, millwork, railroad cross-ties, mine timbers, fence posts, pilings, and pulpwood. A popular shade and street tree with good form and dense foliage, the red oak is one of the most rapid-growing oaks and is hardy in city conditions.


Winterberry 
(Ilex verticillata)

Also known as the Michigan holly and black alder, the winterberry is a deciduous holly shrub with very small white flowers that grow in the leaf axils. The fruit is red and berry-like and grows on short stalks.

Did you know? Extremely showy in late fall and early winter when covered with their bright red fruit, these shrubs are either male or female--a trait typical of the holly family. Birds are readily attracted to them. This shrub grows well in both wet and dry sites.


Sweet Pepperbush
(Clethra alnifolia)

The sweet pepperbush is a tall, many-branched, leafy shrub with spike-like, upright clusters of fragrant white flowers that flower from July to September.

Did you know? Its dry fruit capsules remain long after flowering and help identify this plant in winter. Mountain Pepperbush (C. acuminata) has more pointed leaves and is found in southern mountains.


Red Chokeberry
(Photinia pyrifolia)

Red chokeberry is a spreading shrub with terminal clusters of white or pink-tinged flowers on hairy stalks. The shrub is found in thickets, clearings, low woods and swamps.

Did you know? A native shrub, this species forms sizable colonies and is excellent for naturalistic landscaping. Although chokeberry fruits persist through much of the winter, they appear to be of little importance to wildlife; they are occasionally eaten by game birds and songbirds and reportedly by bears.


Blue Vervain 
(Verbena hastate)

Blue vervain is also known as Simpler's-joy or blue verbena. It has stiff, pencil-like spikes of numerous small, tubular, blue-violet flowers at the top of a square, grooved stem.

Did you know? Bumblebees are among the important pollinators. In ancient times the plant was thought to be a cure-all among medicinal plants and the genus name is Latin for "sacred plant."


Rough-stemmed Goldenrod 
(Solidago rugosa)

Rough-stemmed goldenrod is a tall, rough, hairy plant with small, light yellow flower heads concentrated on the upper side. It is also known as wrinkle-leaf goldenrod or rough-leaf goldenrod. Goldenrod is often found in fields and along roadsides and borders of woods.

Did you know? This highly variable goldenrod can form large masses in fields that were once cultivated. Physicians in ancient times believed that goldenrod had healing powers. In recent times these plants have been popularly blamed for causing hay fever, but its irritating symptoms are actually caused by ragweed (Ambrosia species), whose pollen is abundant when goldenrod is in flower.


Cardinal Flower 
(Lobelia cardinalis)

Cardinal flowers, or bellflowers, have erect leafy stems topped with clusters of bright red flowers resembling flaming red spires. Cardinal flowers are often found along moist shady slopes, sunny stream banks and other damp sites.

Did you know? Since most insects find it difficult to navigate the long tubular flowers, cardinal flower depends on hummingbirds, which feed on the nectar, for pollination. Its common name alludes to the bright red robes worn by Roman Catholic cardinals.


New York Ironweed
(Vernonia noveboracensis)

New York ironweed is made up of tall stems that branch toward the summit. At the top of each is a cluster of deep lavender to violet flower heads.

Did you know? This often roughish plant is common in wet open bottomland fields.

Douglas Fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii)

The Douglas-fir is a large to very large tree with a narrow, pointed crown of slightly drooping branches. There are 2 distinct geographic varieties: Coast and Rocky Mountain. Coast Douglas-fir, the typical Douglas-fir of the Pacific Coast, is a very large tree with long, dark yellow-green needles and large cones. From each cone come many paired, long-winged seeds.

Did you know? One of the world's most important timber species, Douglas-fir ranks first in the United States in total volume of timber, in lumber production, and in production of veneer for plywood. It is one of the tallest trees as well and a popular Christmas tree. David Douglas (1798-1834), the Scottish botanical collector, who sent seeds back to Europe in 1827, is commemorated in the common name. The foliage is consumed by grouse and by deer and elk; birds and mammals eat the seeds.


Oregon White Oak 
(Quercus garryana)

The Oregon white oak tree is a dense, rounded tree with a spreading crown of stout branches. Leaves are shiny dark green above, light green and usually hairy beneath. Leaves of the Oregon white oak sometimes turn reddish in autumn. Acorns are stalkless or short-stalked and are sweetish and edible.

Did you know? The oak of greatest commercial importance in the West, this species is used for furniture, shipbuilding, construction, cabinetwork, interior finish, and fuel. It is the only native oak in Washington and British Columbia. The sweetish acorns, often common in alternate years, are relished by livestock and wildlife and were eaten by Indians.


Western Serviceberry 
(Amelanchier alnifolia)

The western serviceberry - also known as junebery - is a shrub or small tree, usually with several trunks, and star-shaped white flowers. The serviceberry bears fruit in early summer. The fruit is the size of a small apple, is purple or blackish and is juicy and sweet.

Did you know? The fruit of this and related species are eaten fresh, prepared in puddings, pies, and muffins, and dried like raisins and currants. They are also an important food for wildlife from songbirds to squirrels and bears. Deer and livestock also browse the foliage.


Hollyleaf Oregon-grape
(Mahonia aquifolium)

The hollyleaf Oregon-grape has leathery, holly-like leaflets on stems ending in dense, branched clusters of small yellow flowers.

Did you know? This stout shrub is the state flower of Oregon. The berries of this and other Oregon-grape species are eaten by wildlife and make good jelly. Native Americans made a yellow dye from the bark and wood of this shrubby species. Several are used as ornamental garden plants; in the nursery trade some of them are known by the common name Mahonia.


Blue Elderberry 
(Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea)

The blue elderberry is a large, many-branched, thicket-forming shrub or small tree, often with several trunks, with compact, rounded crown and numerous small, whitish flowers in large clusters. Elderberry fruit is dark blue in color and matures in summer and autumn.

Did you know? The sweetish berries are used in preserves and pies but should never be eaten when fresh and raw. Lewis and Clark first reported Blue Elder as an "alder" with "pale, sky blue" berries. A remedy for fever has been concocted from the bark. Blue Elderberry is planted as an ornamental for the numerous whitish flowers and bluish fruits.


Salal
(Gaultheria shallon)

Salal is a shrub-like plant with spreading or erect, hairy stems and whitish to pale pink, hanging urn-shaped flowers. The fruit of the salal is a dark purple berry.

Did you know? The berries are a source of food for wildlife and were once also eaten by coastal Native Americans. The leaves are often used in flower arrangements.


Salmonberry 
(Rubus spectabilis)

Also known as the salmon raspberry, the salmonberry is an erect or sometimes leaning shrub with weakly armed stems, bright pink flowers, and yellow or salmon-red fruits that resemble a cultivated blackberry in all but color. The fruit is juicy and slightly sweet.

Did you know? On moist, sunny slopes in the Cascades, Salmonberry can form impenetrable thickets. The juicy fruit, which looks like a yellow or orange blackberry, is a welcome trailside snack, though too bland for some tastes. Indians ate not only the berries but also the tender young shoots. Numerous birds and animals also feast on the fruits, which may be abundant in good years. The deep pink flowers are distinctive and may occur along with the fruits.


Hooker's Evening-primrose 
(Oenothera elata)

Hooker's evening-primrose has a tall, erect, usually unbranched stem with large yellow flowers. This primrose flowers from June to September.

Did you know? Common Evening-primrose, found throughout most of the United States, has similar erect stems, but its petals are less than 1" long. Both are closely related to the Garden Evening-primrose, scattered in the wild from western Washington to California, which is a taller plant with redder sepals, paler petals about 1 1/2" long, and crinkled leaves.


Red Columbine
(Aquilegia formosa)

Also known as crimson or scarlet columbine, red columbine has handsome red and yellow flowers hanging over the leaves.

Did you know? The species name formosa, Latin for "beautiful," aptly describes this large plant, especially when it has hundreds of lovely flowers nodding over it. There are other species with mostly red flowers, which also attract hummingbirds as pollinators.


Beach Strawberry
(Fragaria chiloensis)

The beach strawberry plant is a low plant connected to others by runners. This strawberry plant often grows in patches and has white flowers on stalks slightly shorter than the leaves. The beach strawberry flowers from March to August.

Did you know? The word strawberry comes from the Anglo-Saxon streawberige, referring to the berries "strewing" their runners out over the ground. This plant also grows in South America; Chilean plants of this species were the parents in the production of hybrid domestic strawberries. Several species of wild strawberries in the West strongly resemble Beach Strawberry but have thin leaflets.

Rocky Mountain Juniper 
(Juniperus scopulorum)

The Rocky Mountain juniper is a graceful ornamental, often with a narrow crown of drooping foliage. It does well in rocky soils, especially on limestone and lava outcrops, in open woodlands at the lower border of trees to the north, and in foothills with pinyons to the south. Its cones are berrylike, bright blue with a whitish coat. Wildlife eat these "berries."

Did you know? The aromatic wood is especially suited for cedar chests and is also used for lumber, fence posts and fuel.


Rocky Mountain Maple
(Acer glabrum)

The Rocky Mountain maple is a shrub or small tree. It prefers moist soils, especially along canyons and mountain slopes in coniferous forests. The northernmost maple in the New World, it extends through southeastern Alaska.

Did you know? Deer, elk, cattle, and sheep browse the foliage. The Latin species name, meaning "hairless," refers to the leaves.


Quaking Aspen 
(Populus tremuloides)

The quaking aspen's leaves tremble in the slightest breeze. The soft smooth bark is sometimes marked by bear claws. A pioneer tree after fires and logging and on abandoned fields, it is short-lived and replaced by conifers. It is sometimes planted as an ornamental. Its wood is used to make pulpwood, boxes, furniture parts, matches and particle-board.

Did you know? The twigs and foliage are browsed by deer, elk, moose, sheep, and goats. Beavers, rabbits, and other mammals eat the bark, foliage and buds, and grouse and quail feed on the winter buds.


Dotted Blazing Star
(Liatris punctata)

Dotted blazing star is an attractive, drought-tolerant perennial with lavender spikes that usually grows in clusters in sandy soils.  It can also be grown successfully in container gardens.  It will grow in full to partial shade.  Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers, which appear in late summer, while birds will eat the seeds that appear later in the growing year.

Did you know?  Dotted blazing star can be cut and dried for dried flower arrangements, so grow enough for yourself and the pollinators!

 


Red Osier Dogwood 
(Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

This plant is also called the red-twig dogwood. It is a large, spreading, thicket-forming shrub. The branch tips of this tree will root upon touching the ground and form new shoots.

Did you know? This tree is useful for erosion control on stream banks. The common name recalls the resemblance of the reddish twigs to those of some willows called osiers, used in basketry.


Golden Currant
(Ribes aureum)

The golden currant is a thicket-forming shrub that can grow to six feet tall. Its flowers are yellow and bloom from February to April. Its berries are tiny and range in color from orange to yellow to blue-black. They are edible and ripe from April to June.

Did you know? The golden currant is native to the western United States but has been planted in more easterly parts of the country.


Heartleaf Arnica 
(Arnica cordifolia)

This aster has two to four pairs of heart-shaped leaves, topped by one to three broad yellow flower heads. It is sometimes also known as heartleaf leopardbane. It flowers from April to June and sometimes in September and prefers lightly shaded woods.

Did you know? In alpine areas or in open places along roads, the leaves may be narrower and without the notch at the base of the blade. All western species have paired leaves on the stems, but only this one has heart-shaped leaves.


Northern Mule's Ears
(Wyethia amplexicaulis)

This plant seems varnished with resin. It has large yellow flowers on strong stems. It grows best on open hillsides and meadows or open woods, from foothills to moderate elevations in mountains. It flowers from May to July.

Did you know? The central flower of this plant will be the largest.


Colorado Blue Columbine
(Aquilegia caerulea)

This produces beautiful blue and white flowers with petals shaped like sugar scoops. It blooms from June to August and grows best in aspen groves in the mountains.

Did you know? This is Colorado's state flower.


Scarlet Gilia
(Ipomopsis aggregata)

This plant is also known as skyrocket or skunk flower. It flowers from May to September and prefers dry slopes from sagebrush to forest.

Did you know? It is one of the most common western wildflowers and grows readily from seed. Its brilliant red trumpets are handsome in the native garden. Its beauty compensates for the faint skunky smell of its glandular foliage.

Black Tupelo 
(Nyssa sylvatica)

The black tupelo is also known as the blackgum or sour gum tree. This tree has a dense, conical or sometimes flat-topped crown and many slender, nearly horizontal branches. The glossy foliage turns scarlet in the fall. The black tupelo bears fruit with sour pulp.

Did you know? A handsome ornamental and shade tree, Black Tupelo is also a honey plant. The juicy fruit is consumed by many birds and mammals.


Willow Oak 
(Quercus phellos)

The willow oak grows to 50-80 feet tall. It is a popular street and shade tree. However, be careful not to plant it too close to your house because it grows quite large.

Did you know? The willow oak is readily transplanted because of its shallow roots. While the foliage resembles a willow, it is an oak because it has acorns. City squirrels as well as wildlife consume and spread the acorns.


Sweetbay Magnolia
(Magnolia virginiana)

This attractive, native ornamental is popular for its fragrant flowers borne over a long period, showy conelike fruit, handsome foliage of contrasting colors, and smooth bark.

Did you know? Introduced into European gardens as early as 1688. Called "Beavertree" by colonists who caught beavers in traps baited with the fleshy roots.


American Elderberry
(Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis)

This common, widespread shrub has clusters of white flowers and many small black or purple berries.

Did you know? Elderberries, inedible when fresh and raw, are used for making jelly, preserves, pies, and wine. Birds and mammals of many species also feed on the berries. The bark, leaves, and flowers have served in home remedies but can be toxic.


Yaupon Holly
(Ilex vomitoria)

This is an evergreen, much-branched, thicket-forming shrub or small tree with a rounded, open crown, small shiny leaves, and abundant, round, shiny red berries.

Did you know? The ornamental twigs with shiny evergreen leaves and numerous red berries are a favorite Christmas decoration. Yaupon holly is sometimes grown for ornament and trimmed into hedges. The leaves contain caffeine, and American Indians used them to prepare a tea to induce vomiting and as a laxative. Tribes from the interior traveled to the coast in large numbers each spring to partake of this tonic.


Sweet Pepperbush 
(Clethra alnifolia)

The sweet pepperbush is a tall, many-branched, leafy shrub with spike-like, upright clusters of fragrant white flowers that flower from July to September.

Did you know? Its dry fruit capsules remain long after flowering and help identify this plant in winter. Mountain Pepperbush (C. acuminata) has more pointed leaves and is found in southern mountains.


Swamp Milkweed
(Asclepias incarnata)

Swamp milkweed has deep pink flowers clustered at the top of a tall, branching stem, bearing numerous narrow leaves. The milkweed flowers from June to August.

Did you know? The juice of this wetland milkweed is less milky than that of other species. The genus was named in honor of Aesculapius, Greek god of medicine, undoubtedly because some species have long been used to treat a variety of ailments.


Trumpet Honeysuckle
(Lonicera sempervirens)

Also known as coral honeysuckle, trumpet honeysuckle is a vine that has showy, trumpet-shaped flowers at the ends of the stems. The flowers are red on the outside and yellow on the inside and produce scarlet berries.

Did you know? This beautiful, slender, climbing vine is frequently visited by hummingbirds.


Climbing Aster 
(Ampelaster carolinianus)

A woody-based sprawling shrub, the climbing aster produces masses of large pinkish flowers in late fall.

Did you know? With its unusual rambling habit and abundance of blooms, this aster is a good choice for a southeastern native plant garden. It is a caterpillar food plant for the American Painted Lady butterfly and provides nectar for adult butterflies of many species.


Narrowleaf Sunflower
(Helianthus angustifolius)

Also known as the swamp sunflower, the narrowleaf sunflower has wide-spreading branches that bear daisylike flowers at their ends. The stems and leaves are covered in erect hairs.

Did you know? This native eastern wildflower is often sold as a garden plant. It is valued for its late-season color and as a nectar source for fall butterflies. It grows well in moist soil and will also adapt to drier conditions.

Desert Willow
(Chilopsis linearis)

The desert willow is a large shrub or small tree, often with a leaning trunk, willow-like leaves, large showy flowers and very long, narrow, bean-like fruit.

Did you know? Desert Willow is important in erosion control and is planted also as an ornamental. Propagated from cuttings or seeds, it grows rapidly and sprouts after being cut. Indians made bows from the stiff, durable wood, which is also suitable for fence posts. Despite its name, this species is not related to the willow.


Rocky Mountain Juniper 
(Juniperus scopulorum)

The rocky mountain juniper is an evergreen tree with straight trunk, narrow, pointed crown, and slender branches of aromatic, gray-green foliage often drooping at ends. The juniper has berry-like cones that are bright blue.

Did you know? The rocky mountain juniper is a graceful ornamental. The aromatic wood is especially suited for cedar chests and is also used for lumber, fence posts, and fuel. Wildlife eat the "berries."


Blue Paloverde 
(Parkinsonia florida)

A small, spiny tree, the blue paloverde has a short blue-green trunk and is leafless for much of the year. It has bright yellow flowers and bears flat thin pods in the summer.

Did you know? Although leaves are absent most of the year, photosynthesis, the manufacture of food, is performed by the blue-green branches and twigs. Native Americans cooked and ate the immature beanlike pods and ground the mature seeds for meal. Twigs and pods of paloverdes serve as browse for wildlife and emergency food for livestock, the seeds are consumed by rodents and birds, and the flowers are a source of honey. This species is useful for erosion control along drainages. The Spanish common name, paloverde, means "green tree" or "green pole."


Teddybear Cholla 
(Opuntia bigelovii)

A miniature tree, the teddybear cholla has short, stubby branches that are densely covered with pale golden spines. Flowers are green or yellow, the petals often streaked with lavender.

Did you know? Though the branches resemble the arms and legs of a fuzzy teddy bear, this plant is far from cuddly. With its painfully clinging spines, it is one of the most formidable and respected cacti of the Southwest.


Skunkbush Sumac 
(Rhus trilobata)

The skunkbush sumac is an erect, bushy, stiffly branched shrub with highly aromatic 3-parted leaves and clusters of red berries. The berries are fleshy and produce a sticky secretion.

Did you know? Skunkbush is one of the more widespread sumacs in the West. The fruit, which ripens in the fall, is an important source of winter food for many game birds, as well as songbirds and a number of small mammals. In severe winters, game birds have been known to stay close to sumac patches until the berries are exhausted. Native Americans used the berries of skunkbush and other sumacs to make drinks resembling pink lemonade, hence an alternate name, Lemonade Berry, that is applied to this and several other members of the genus. Another alternate name, Squawbush, no doubt derives from the fact that native women used the flexible stems of this plant to make baskets. Skunkbush refers to the unpleasant odor emitted when the plant is crushed.


Greenleaf Manzanita
(Arctostaphylos patula)

The greenleaf manzanita is a spreading, much-branched shrub that can grow to six feet tall. Its smooth, bright red-brown inner bark is revealed as the outer bark shreds off. Round, evergreen leaves are bright green, and the pink, bell-shaped flowers occur in clusters.

Did you know? Greenleaf manzanita is a fire-resistant shrub often used as erosion control. Stems root where they touch the ground.


Desert Marigold
(Baileya multiradiata)

A grayish, woolly plant, the desert marigold is branched and leafy mostly in the lower half, with brilliant yellow flowers.

Did you know? Dense patches often form solid strips of yellow along miles of desert roadsides. In gardens a single plant grows into a perfect hemisphere of yellow, blooming throughout the hot summer and into fall. The name marigold, given to several species of Asteraceae with sunny yellow or orange flowers, comes from "Mary's Gold," in honor of the Virgin.


Blackfoot Daisy
(Melampodium leucanthum)

A low, round, bushy plant, the blackfoot daisy has flower heads of 8-10 broad white rays surrounding a small yellow central disk.

Did you know? At first glance, blackfoot daisy appears to be the twin of white zinnia, but flower heads of the latter species have 4-6 broad white rays and a narrow base of several overlapping scales. Both may be found in the same habitat, but the range of white zinnia does not extend as far south as Blackfoot Daisy.


Desert Sand Verbena
(Abronia villosa)

Desert sand verbena is a soft-haired, sticky plant with bright pink, trumpet-shaped flowers. The plant flowers from March through October.

Did you know? Following ample winter rains, desert sand verbena may carpet miles of desert with pink.


Scarlet Globe-mallow
(Sphaeralcea coccinea)

Red-orange or brick-red flowers bloom in narrow clusters on these leafy, branched, velvety-haired plants. Scarlet globe-mallow is often found on open ground in arid grassland and among pinyon and juniper.

Did you know? Globe-mallows are common plants on western ranges, but difficult to identify. One of the easiest species to recognize is Scaly Globe-mallow which is covered with gray scale-like hairs and has very narrow upper leaves.