Native Plants

Native Plant List for North Dakota, South Dakota and Western Minnesota

This is a "starter" list of native plants for North Dakota, South Dakota and Western Minnesota. It is intended for residential or commercial landscapers who want to create attractive and varied native landscapes.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum P-S W-A 60-120' Great fall color. Shade-tol. Source of sap for syrup.
Box Elder Acer negundo F W 30-75' Can spread very quickly. Often has several trunks.
Paper Birch Betula papyrifera F W-A 50-75' White bark can peel off in sheets when mature.
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis F W-A 60-100' Unique stucco-like bark. Excellent for wildlife.
Red-osier Dogwood Cornus sericea F-P W 3-19' Small white flowers & fruit. Survives extreme cold.
Downy Hawthorn Crataegus mollis F-P W-D 35-50' White flowrs, red edible fruit. Thorny branches.
Green Ash Fraxinus pennsylvanica F W-D 50-75' Gold-yellow in early autumn. Food for wildlife.
Black Walnut Juglans nigra F W-A 100-125' Deciduous. Edible nuts.
Ironwood Ostrya virginiana P-S A-D 30-50' Understory hardwood tree. Seed for wildlife.
Eastern Cottonwood Populus deltoides F W 100' Silvery white bark. Leaves are food for caterpillars.
Quaking Aspen Populus tremuloides F W-A 35-50' Leaves "quake"/tremble in wind. Yellow in fall.
Wild Plum Prunus americana F-P A-D 20-35' Edible red plums. White flowrs w/unpleasant odor.
Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa F W-D 80-100' Fast-growing. Large acorns. Long-lived.
Basswood Tilia americana P W-A 60-125' Grey bark, reddish twigs. Great for wildlife.
Nannyberry Viburnum lentago F-P W-A 18' Cream/white flowers, multi-colored fruit, fall colr.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Shrubs

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
Leadplant Amorpha canescens F A-D 1-3' Purple flowers, deciduous, blooms June-July.
Kinnikinnik Arctostaphylos uva-ursi F-P A-D 4-6' White-pink flowers April-May, evergreen, red berries.
Gray Dogwood Cornus racemosa F-P W-D 12-16' White flowers May-June, deciduous.
Red-osier Dogwood Cornus sericea F-P W 6-12' White flwrs May-June, white berries, fall colr, red twigs.
American Hazelnut Corylus americana P A-D 6-12' Deciduous. Fall color.
Juniper Juniperus communis F A-D 3-6' Evergreen.
Creeping Juniper Juniperus horizontalis F-S A-D 1-3' Evergreen. Good ground cover.
Potentilla Potentilla fruticosa F W-D 3-4' Yellow flowers June-September. Deciduous.
Chokecherry Prunus virginiana F-S A-D 30-50' White flowers April-May, deciduous, dark-purple fruit.
Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra S D 10-20' Deciduous, fall color, persistent berries.
Early Wild Rose Rosa blanda S D 2-5' Pink flowers June-Augus, deciduous.
Pussy Willow Salix discolor F W-A 15-30' Deciduous. Furry catkins.
Elderberry Sambucus canadensis F-S W-D 10-12' White flowers June-July, deciduous, blue-black berries.
Meadow Sweet Spiraea alba F W 3-6' White flowers June-August, deciduous, fall color.
Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus S A-D 2-5' Deciduous, white berries.
Nannyberry Viburnum lentago P D 20-25' White flwrs May, deciduous, persistent berries, fall colr.
High-bush Cranberry Viburnum trilobum S A 6-15' White flwrs May-June, deciduous, red berries, fall colr.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Flowering Perennials

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
Red Baneberry Actaea rubra P-S A 1-2' White flowers Apr-June, white berries.
Wild Garlic Allium canadense F A 8-12" Pink-lavender flowers May-June.
Canada Anemone Anemone canadensis F-P A 1-2' White flowers Apr-June.
Thimbleweed Anemone cylindrica F-P A-D 1-2' White flowers May-July.
Pussytoes Antennaria spp. F D 2-12" White flowers May. Good groundcover.
Columbine Aquilegia canadensis P-S A 1-2' Red & yellow flowers May-June.
Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum P A 1-2' Green flowers May-June, red berries.
Swamp Milkweed Asclepias incarnata F-P W-A 2-4' Reddish-purple flowers June-Aug.
Whorled Milkweed Asclepias verticillata F A-D 1-3' White flowers July.
Heath Aster Aster ericoides F A-D 1-3' White flowers Sept-Oct.
Smooth Aster Aster laevis F A 2 -3' Lavender flowers Aug-Oct.
New England Aster Aster novae-angliae F-P W-A up to 6' Lavender-pink flowers Aug-frost.
Harebell Campanula rotundifolia P A-D 4-15" Lavender flowers June-Sept.
Prairie Larkspur Delphinium virescens F A-D 1-4' White w/purple flowers June-July.
Tick-trefoil Desmodium canadense F-P A 2-6' Pink flowers June-Sept.
Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium F A 3-6' Pink-lavender flowers June-Aug.
Boneset Eupatorium perfoliatum F-S W-A 3-6' White flowers June-Aug.
Grass-leaved Goldenrod Euthamia graminifolia F W-A 1-4' Yellow flowers July-Sept.
Wild Strawberry Fragaria virginiana F-P A-D 3-6' White flowers May, ground cover, edible fruit.
Bottle Gentian Gentiana andrewsii F-S A 1-2' Purple flowers Aug-frost.
Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum S-P A 1-3' Pink flowers April-July.
Prairie Smoke Geum triflorum F-P W-D 6-18" Red flwrs April-May. Pink seed plumes. Ground cover.
Common Sneezeweed Helenium autumnale F W 2-5' Yellow flowers Aug-Sept.
Stiff Sunflower Helianthus rigidus F D 3-6' Yellow flowers July-Sept.
Ox-eye Sunflower Heliopsis helianthoides F A 3-4' Yellow flowers June-Aug.
Alumroot Heuchera richardsonii F-P A 1-2' White flowers April-June.
Virginia Waterleaf Hydrophyllum virginianum S-P A 1' Lavender flowers May-June. Ground cover.
Rough Blazing Star Liatrus aspera F A-D 1-4' Purple flowers Aug-Sept.
Wood Lily Lilium philadelphicum P A-D 2-3' Orange flowers July-Aug.
Great Blue Lobelia Lobelia siphilitica P A-D 2-3' Blue-lavender flower July-Oct.
Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa F-P W-D 2-5' Lavender flowers July-Aug.
Evening Primrose Oenothera biennis F A-D 2-4' Yellow flowers July-frost. Biennial.
Large-flow. Penstemon Penstemon grandiflorus F D 2-3' Pink-lavender flowers May-June.
White Prairie Clover Petalostemum candidum F A 1-2' White flowers July-Aug.
Purple Prairie Clover Peatlostemum purpureum F A 1-2' Purple flowers July-Aug.
Praire Phlox Phlox pilosa F A-D 1-2' Pink-lavender flowers May-July.
Solomon's Seal Polygonatum biflorum S A 1-4' White flowers May-June.
Wild Crocus Pulsatilla nuttalliana F-P D 4-6" Lavender flowers April.
Mountain Mint Pycnanthem. virginianum F-P W-A 2-3' White flowers July-Aug.
Prairie Coneflower Ratibida columnifera F D 1-3' Red-yellow flowers June-Aug.
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta F-P W-D 1-2' Yellow flowers June-Aug.
Rosinweed Silphium integrifolium F A 2-4' Yellow flowers July-Sept.
Cup Plant Silphium perfoliatum F A 3-5' Yellow flowers July-Sept.
Gray Goldenrod Solidago nemoralis F A 6-16" Yellow flowers Aug-Oct.
Stiff Goldenrod Solidago rigida F A-D 1-4' Yellow flowers July-Oct.
Tall Meadow Rue Thalictrum dasycarpum S-P A 3-5' White flowers June-July.
Merrybells Uvularia sessilifolia S-P W-A 10-15" Cream flowers April-May.
Blue Verbena Verbena hastata F-P A 2-5' Purple flowers June-Sept.
Ironweed Vernonia fasciculata F A 2-5' Purple flowers July-Sept.
Culver's Root Veronicastrum virginicum F-P A 2-6' White flowers July-Sept.
Common Blue Violet Viola papilionacea S-P A 4-8" Purple flowers April-June, groundcover.
Heart-Leaved G.A. Zizia aptera F-P A-D 1-3' Yellow flowers May-June.
Golden Alexanders (GA) Zizia aurea F-P W-A 1-3' Yellow flowers May-June.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Perennial Ferns

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
Lady Fern Athyrium filix-femina F-S W-D 2' Hardy and adaptible.
Ostrich Fern Pteretis nodulosa S-P W-A 2-6' Popular ornamental. Edible fiddleheads.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Vines

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
American Bittersweet Celastrus scandens F-S A-D to 30' Deciduous. Orange fruit.
Virgin's Bower Clematis virginiana P-F W-D 12-15' White flowers July-Sept, deciduous, silvery achenes.

North Dakota, South Dakota & Western Minnesota Grasses & Grass-like Plants

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Heights Comments
Western Wheatgrass Agropyron smithii F A-D 1-2 1/2' Good erosn contrl & reclamation. Elk, deer, cattle food.
Big Bluestem andropogon gerardii F A 3-8' Fall color. Blue stem base. Food for horses, cattle.
Sideoats Grama Bouteloua curtipendula F D 1-3' Fall color. Unique flowers June-Sept.
Bluejoint Grass Calamagrostis canadensis F W-A 1-3' Blue to red-purple nodes. Food & cover for wildlife.
Awl-fruited Sedge Carex stipata F W 2-3' Green to black spike-like flowers. Good erosn contrl.
Canada Wild Rye Elymus canadensis F-S A-D 2-4' Clump-forming. Attractive well into winter.
Bottlebrush Grass Hystrix patula S-P A 3' Distinctive bottlebrush spike persists into winter.
June Grass Koeleria macrantha F D 1-2' Long, fuzzy, spike-like, green-silver flowers.
Switch Grass Panicum virgatum F W-D 2-3' Stiff, verticle form. Birds eat seeds. Yellow in fall.
Little Bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium F A-D 1-3' Beautiful seasonal color changes. Showy into winter.
Indian Grass Sorghastrum nutans F A 3-8' Can look silver/gold in sun. Good grazing & ornamntl.
Prairie Cordgrass Spartina pectinata F W-A 5-6' Good erosion control. Shelter for wildlife. Thatching.
N. Prairie Dropseed Sporobolus heterolepis F A 2' Delicate seedheads. Drought-resistnt. Great fall colrs.
Porcupine Grass Stipa spartea F A-D 2-4' Sharp, needle-like seeds.
Cattail Typha latifolia F W 4-8' Part can be edible. Flowers mid-late summer.

Sun Exposure Soil Moisture Drought Tolerance
F = Full Sun W = Wet E = Excellent
P = Part Sun A = Average G = Good
S = Shade D = Dry M = Moderate
P = Poor