Native Plants

Native Plant List – North Carolina and South Carolina

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

North Carolina and South Carolina Trees

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Height Comments
Serviceberry Amelanchier arborea F-P A-D 15-25' Yellow/orange./red fall color; white flowers in April
Devil's Walkingstick Aralia spinosa F-P A-D 10-20' Thorny; 3-4" clusters of wht flowers in sum.; birds like berries
Paw Paw Asimina triloba P-S A 40' Unique fruit resembles & tastes like banana
American Hornbeam Carpinus caroliniana P-S W-A 20-30' Good street tree; yellow/orange/scarlet fall color
Chinquapin Castanea pumila F-S A 20-25' Slender spikes of strongly scented staminate flowers
Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis F-S A-D 20-30' Clusters of rosy/pink flowers (Apr); flowers line branches/trunk
Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus F-P A 12-20' Wispy, creamy wht. fragrant flowers in May
Pagoda Dogwood Cornus alternifolia P-S W-D 15-25' Clusters of wht. flowers (late sum.); Black berries, fall follage
Flowering Dogwood Cornus florida F-S D-A 25-30' Wht. flowers in spring turn into bird-attracting berries
Washington Hawthorn Crataegus phaenopyrum F-P A 25-30' Wht. spring flowers; red fall berries; orange/scarlet fall color
Persimmon Diospyros virginiana F-P D-A 30-50' Yellow/orange/mauve color; butterfly larval plant
Carolina Silverbell Halesia carolina F-S A 30' Drooping large white bell-shaped flowers in early spring
Common Witch-hazel Hamamelis virginiana F-S A 15-30' 1" fragrant, creamy to bright yellow flowers in fall
American Holly Ilex opaca F-S A-D 20-40' To ensure fruit, one male is needed per 2-3 females
Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana F-P A-D 40-50' Offers nesting and cover to birds
Umbrella Tree Magnolia tripetela F-P A 15-40' 6-8" wht. flowers spring w/unpleasant odor; red fruit in fall
Hop-hornbeam Ostrya virginiana P-S A 30-60' Scarlet red autumn color
Sourwood Oxydendrum arboreum F-S A-D 20-30' Fragrant flowers in spring; yellow/pink/red in fall
Hoptree Ptelea trifoliata F-S A 15-20' Small, white fragrant flowers; yellow/green fall color
American Plum Prunus americana F-P W-D 12-20' White fragrant flowers in spring; 1" red/yellow fruit in summer
Pin Cherry Prunus pensylvanica F-P W-D 25-40' Leaves poisonous to livestock; fruit attracts birds
Common Sassafras Sassafras albidum F-P D-A 30-60' Yellow flowers (Apr); clear yellow/orange/pink/scarlet fall color
Blackhaw Viburnum Viburnum rufidulum F-S D-A 10-15' Showy clusters of wht. flowers that leap out from follage
Red Maple Acer rubrum F W-D 50-75' Buds and young twigs are red/green fall color
Sugar Maple Acer saccharum F-P A 50-75' Excellent fall color; beautiful large shade tree
Yellow Buckeye Aesculus flava P-S A 50-75' Erect clusters of yellow flowers in spring; org. fall color
Yellow Birch Betula alleghanienses F-P A 60-75' Does best in cool soil; beautiful bark
Sweet Birch Betula lenta F-P A 40-55' Golden-yellow fall color
River Birch Betula nigra F A-W 40-70' Modest yellow fall color; seed attracts birds
Bitternut Hickory Carya cordiformis F-P A 50-70' Striking yellow buds; pinnately compound leaves
Pignut Hickory Carya glabra F-S D 50-60' Golden-yellow fall color; rapid growth rate
Yellowwood Cladrastis kentuckea F-P A 30-50' Clusters of fragrant/wht pea-type flowers (spr); yllw. fall color
Beech Fagus grandifolia F-P A 85+' Nuts in fall attract birds/mammals/humans
Tulip Tree Liriodendron tulipifera F A 70-90' Large tulip-like flowers are yellow/grn./org. in May-June
Cucumber Tree Magnolia acuminata P-S A 50-75' Yellow/grn. magnolia-type flowers (spr); pink/red fuit in fall
Black Tupelo Nyssa sylvatica F A-D 30-60' Scarlet-red fall color
Sycamore Platanus occidentalis F-P A-W 70-90' leaves drop all summer; white molted bark
Red Spruce Picea rubens F-S A 60-70' Evergreen; 2" green/purple cones mature to red/brown
Black Cherry Prunus serotina F-P D 50-80' Messy tree; small edible berries in sum. attract birds
White Oak Quercus alba F-P D 60-90' Brown/red/ bright red fall color; grows rapidly
Red Oak Quercus rubra F-P D-A 60-75' Russett red to bright red fall color; grows rapidly
Post Oak Quercus stellata F-P D 40-50' Variable fall color; non-showy to golden-brown
American Linden Tilia americana F-S A 60-80' Clusters of creamy yellow fragrant flowers in early
Canadian Hemlock Tsuga canadensis F-S A 40-60' When grown in sun this evergreen requires consistent watering
Carolina Hemlock Tsuga caroliniana F-S A 30-70' Good screen for cool, shady areas

North Carolina and South Carolina Shrubs

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Height Comments
New Jersey Tea Ceanothus americanus F-P D 3' Short spikes of tiny white flowers in June
Sweetfern Comptonia peregrina F-P A-D 2-4' Lacy serrated foliage which is pleasantly aromatic
Snowhill Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens P-S A 4-6' Large clusters of flat, creamy white flowers Jun-Jul
Shrubby St.John's Wort Hypericum prolificum F-P A 1-5' Showy 1" yellow flowers bloom Jun-Sept
Drooping leucothoe Leucothoe fontanesiana P-S A 3-5' Lance-shaped leaves on slender stems. few branches
Carolina Rose Rosa carolina F-P W-D 3-4' Yellow, orange, red fall color; pink flowers May-July
Swamp Rose Rosa palustris F-P A-W 4-6' Fragrant flowers in summer, red hips in fall
Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon F-P A 4-6" Pink bell-shaped flowers in spring; edible fruits
Lowbush Blueberry Vaccinium pallidum F-P A-D 12-16" Sets some fruit even in shade; has white/pink flowers
Maple-leaf Viburnum Viburnum acerifolium F-P A-D 6' Pie-shapedclusters of creamy-white flowers; beautiful fall color
Red Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia F-P W-A 6-11" Red berries load shrub & are eaten by mammals and birds
Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa F-P D-W 3-5' Dependable showy orange, burgundy & purple fall color
Sweetshrub Calycanthus floridus P-S A 6-10' Interesting brown blooms Apr-July
Cinnamonbark Clethra acuminata F-P A 8-15' Twisted racines of white lily-of-the-valley like fragrant flowers
Silky Dogwood Cornus amomum F-S A-W 6-10' Creamy white flowers May-Jun; no fall color
Hazelnut Corylus americana F-S A 12-15" Edible nuts; suckering
Bush-honeysuckle Diervilla sessilifolia F-S A 4-6' Small yellow flowers on tips of new growth all summer
Hearts-a-bustin Euonymus americanus P-S A 4-6' Purplish flowers in May; Red seed pods in Sept, attracts birds
Large Fothergilla Fotherfilla major F-P A 6-10' Showy, fragrant flowers in spring; spectacular fall leaves
Dense Hypericum Hypericum densiflorum F-P W-D 4-6' Golden yellow 1" flowers in late spring
Common Winterberry Ilex verticillata F-S A-W 6-15' Red berries on female plants persist into winter & attract birds
Virginia sweetspire Itea virginica F-S W 3-6' Spectacular long lasting yellow, orange, crimson fall color
Mountain Laurel Kalmia latifolia F-P A 8-10' Pink, red, or white flowers in late spring
Spicebush Lindera benzoin P-S A 6-12' Yellow spicily fragrant flowers in late winter; red fruit in fall
Sweet Azalea Rhododend. arborescens F-S A 3-6' Fragrant white to pink flowers, red stamen in early summer
Flame Azalea Rhodod. calendulaceum P-S A 4-8' Yellow, orange, scarlet flowers in late spring
Carolina Rhododendron Rhodod. carolinianum P-S A 3-5' Light to dark pink flowers mid-May; evergreen
Mountain Rosebay Rhodod. catawbiense F-S A 6-10' 5-6" unbel of lilac-purple to pale pink flowers mid-spring
Pinxter Azalea Rhodod. periclymenoides P-S A 6-10' Variable flower color - often pink flowers before leaves emerge
Pinkshell Azalea Rhododendron vaseyi F-P A-W 5-10' Pink/white flowers with orange freckles emerge before leaves
Elderberry Sambucus canadensis F-S A-W 5-12' Showy white flowers in July, edible fruit in Sept
Coral Berry Symphoricar. orbiculatus F-S A 2-5' Bell shaped flowers become clusters of large pink berries
Hobblebush Viburnum alnifolium P-S A 6-10' White flowers; red to black berries; yellow/orange/red fall color
Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum F-P D-W 6-12' Excellent fall color; fruit readily eaten by humans & wildlife
Deerberry Vaccinium stamineum F-P A 10-15' Twisted trunks; bell-shaped flowers; sweet, spicy tasting fruit
Witherod Viburnum Viburnum cassinoides F-S A-W 5-6' White flowers; green, pink, red, blue, & black berries
Tag Alder Alnus serrulata F-P W 40' Can fix nitrogen
Mountain Winterberry Ilex montana F-P A 15-40' Red berries on female plants
Mock Orange Philadelphus inodorus F-P W 10-12' White fragrant blooms smell like orange blossoms
Rosebay Rhododendron Rhododend. maximum P-S A-W 15-40' Huge clusters of white to deep pink flowers with yellow spots
Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra F-P D-A 9-15' Velvety red fruit on female plants that persist into winter
Silky Willow Salix sericea F-S W-A 12' Provides good wildlife habitat
Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum F-P W-A 6-12' Creamy-white blooms in spring

North Carolina and South Carolina Herbaceous Perennials

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Height Comments
Doll's eyes Actea pachypoda P-S A 1-2' Small white flowers Apr-May; poisonous white berries Aug-Sep
Blue Star Amson.tabernaemontana F-P A 2-3' Blue showy flowers in May
Thimbleweed Anemone virginiana S A 1-3' Lovely large white flowers followed by fluffy seed heads
Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis P-S A-D 1-2' Unique red & yellow flowers attract hummingbirds
Pussy's Toes Antern. planaginfolia F A 1/2-1' Forms a low mat of little rosettes of white-wooly leaves
Green Dragon Arisaema dracontium P-S A-D 28" Simular to Jack-in-the-pulpit; goes dormant mid-summer
Jack-in-the-Pulpit Arisaema triphyllum P-S A 12" Spathe appears Mar-May; red berries late summer, fall
Goat's Beard Aruncus dioicus F-P A 4-7' Feathery plumes of cream-colored flowers rise above foliage
Wild Ginger Asarum canadense P-S A 6" Evergreen groundcover with heart-shaped glossy leaves
Butterfly Weed Asclepias tuberosa F D 1-2' Clusters of brilliant orange flowers Jun-Aug
White Wood Aster Aster divaricatus P-S A-D 2-4' Showiest of shade-loving asters; white flowers in late spring
Late Purple Aster Aster patens F-P A-D 1-3' 1 1/2" bright violet-blue flowers with yellow centers
False Goats Beard Astilbe biternata P A 24-39" Fern-like foliage and plume flowers
Wild Indigo Baptisia tinctoria F A 2-3' Small yellow flowers July-Aug
Blue Cohosh Cauloph. thalictroides P-S A-W 1-3' Green flowers Apr-May; blue poisonous berries
Pink turtlehead Chelone lyonii F-P A-W 24-30" Showy pink flowers July-Sept
Green-and-Gold Chrysogonu. virginainum P-S A 8" Yellow flowers contrast green foliage in spring & fall
Black Cohosh Cimicifuga racemosa P-S A 1-3' Slender candle-like clusters of white slowers in summer & fall
Mouse-eared Coreopsis Coreopsis auriculata F A 18" Rich yellow flower head spring to frost if dead-headed
Coreopsis Coreopsis pubescens F A 3-4' Bright golden yellow flowers all summer
Bleeding Heart Dicentra eximia F-P A 12-18" Attractive foliage & interesting pink & white flowers
Shooting Star Dodecatheon meadia F-P A 1-2' Delicate white to pink petals, red & yellow center
Trout Lily Erythroni. americanum P-S A 3-6' Large low-petaled yellow flowers
Joe-Pye Weed Eupatorium fistulosum F-P A 5-8' Purplish-pink flowers explode in Aug/Sept attracting butterflies
Wild Strawberry Fragaria virginiana F-P A-D 6" Forms groundcover; tasty fruit in early summer
Wintergreen Gaultheria procumbens P-S A 4-8" Pink flowers in summer followed by edible fruit that persists
Wild Geranium Geranium maculatum F-S A 1-2' 1" lavender-purple clowers in spring & summer
Sharp-lobed Hepatica Hepatica acutiloba S A-S 4-9" White, pink, blue, or purple solitary flowers in spring
Alumroot Heuchera americana S D 1-3' Greenish-purple bell-shaped flowers bloom on leafless stalks
Little Brown Jugs Hexastylis arifolia P-S A 6" Spotty groundcover, heart-shaped leaves, jug-shaped flowers
Jewelweed Impatiens capensis F-P A 3' Beautiful orange flowers attract butterflies & hummingbirds
Dwarf Crested Iris Iris cristata P-S A-D 4-8" Pale lavender-blue, crested flowers Apr-May
Blazing Star Liatris spicata F A 3' Tall purple spikes bloom after 2-3 years
Turks-cap Lily Lilium superbum F-P A 4-6' Gorgeous orange flowers; morning sun & afternoon shade
Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis F-P W 3-5' Terminal clusters of bright red flowers each 1 1/2" long in fall
Lobelia Lobelia puberula F-S A-P 2-4' Spikes of flowers range from pale blue to violet
Great Lobelia Lobelia siphilitica P-S W 1-3' Elongated clusters of pale to dark blue flowers in late summer
Fringed Loostrife Lysimachia ciliata F-P A-W 2-3' Yellow flowers grow upside-down
Partridge Berry Mitchella repens P-S A 3" Elegant pink flowers, red edible fruit,dense/creeping groundcvr
Bishop's Cap Mitella diphylla P-S A-D 1-2' Produces distinctive clusters of tiny white flowers
Bee Balm Monarda didyma F-P A 3-4' Edible leaves; red flowers attract bees/hummingbirds
Allegheny Spurge Pachysand. procumbens S A 9-12" Mottled purple leaves; flowers are white with pink tinge
Phacelia Phacelia bepinnatifida P-S A 12-18" Reseeds readily; contact can cause allergic reaction
Chalice Phlox Phlox amoena F-P A 2-3' Clusters of fragrant rose&white flowers, attracts hummingbirds
Carolina Phlox Phlox carolina F-P A 3-4' Thick leaves & showy flower clusters
Wild Blue Phlox Phlox divaricata P-S A 12-18" Fragrant lavender-blue flowers Apr-May
Garden Phlox Phlox paniculata F-P A 2-4' Clusters of magenta, pink lavender, or white flowers Jul-Sep
Creeping Phlox Phlox stolonifera P-S A 6" White, pink, purple to violet trumpet-shaped flowers in spring
Golden Aster Pityopis graminifolia F A-D 2' Leaves look like silvery grass blades; Numerous yellow flowers
Solomon's Seal Ploygonatum biflorum P-S A 2-3' 1/2" bell-shaped greenish-white flowers hang from leaf axils
Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia hirta F A-D 2-3' 2-4" flower heads with 10-20 bright yellow petals summer/fall
Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis S A 6-10" 2" white flowers with yellow centers; roots have red sap
Oconee Bells Shortia galacifolia F-P A 8" Waxy leaves & dainty, frilly, parasol-like white flowers in May
Fire Pink Silene virginica F-P A 10-20" Deep red-pink flowers attract hummingbirds
Blue-eyed Grass Sisyrinchium mucronat. F-P A-D 1' Rich blue/purple flowers with yellow centers May-Jul
Winkle-leaf Goldenrod Solidago rugosa F A-D 2-5' Tiny flowers look like strings of yellow baeds Aug-Oct
Bush Pea Thermopsis villosa S A 3-5' 1" yellow flowers crowd long narrow erect clusters spring/sum
Foamflower Tiarella cordifolia P-S A 6-12" Evergreen groundcover; feathery white flowers Apr-Jun
New York Ironweed Vernonia neveboracensis F A-W 4-7' Intense reddish-purple thistle-like heads
Yellow-root Xanthorhiz. simplicissima F-S A 2' Bright green celery-like folliage; racemes of purple flowers

North Carolina and South Carolina Ferns

Common Name Scientific Name Sun Moisture Height Comments
Maidenhair Fern Adiantum pedatum P-S A 18-36" Tiny fan-shaped deep blue-green fronds held on black stems
Lady Fern Athyrium felix-femina S A-W 18-24" Delicate & lacy arching fronds have dark red stems at maturity
Hay-scented Fern Dennstaedtia punctiloba S-F A 36" Fronds smell like hay when crushed
Sensitive Fern Onoclea sensibilis F-P W 12-24" Deeply pinnate leaves; poisonous to livestock
Cinnamon Fern Osmunda connamomea P-S A-W 24-48" Clusters of arching fronds; cinnamon colored fertile fronds
Royal Fern Osmunda regalis P A-W 2-6' Bipinnate blade; pinnae resemble locust tree leaves
Christmas Fern Polystich. acrostichoides P-S A 12-36" Stiff deep green fronds are once-pinnate

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