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.

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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