After I horrified you last week with the invasive plants that have taken over, I want to happily orient you this week with the native plant species that grace our land - or as I call them, the ones that are supposed to be here. There’s many definitions surrounding the word “native”, however most can agree that it refers to a plant that occurs naturally in the place where it evolved without any human intervention, those that evolved naturally in North America. Native plants vary from the East coast to the South to the West coast, the mountains and the Midwest. These plants have all adapted to their climate and soil conditions making them super hardy requiring no pesticides, fertilizers, or watering.
In Connecticut, we have our own unique list of trees, shrubs, grasses, ferns, and flowers that thrive naturally and wildly and hopefully will gain your appreciation as you make the connection with them being native to our area. Many can be seen around our beautiful town, even in the winter months.
This list includes but is not limited to.....
Native trees like Red Oak, Shagbark Hickory, Yellow Birch, and American Beech.
Native evergreen trees include Eastern Hemlock, Eastern White Pine, White Spruce.
Native shrubs include Inkberry, American Witch Hazel, Mountain Laurel, American Holly.
Native wildflowers (summer bloomers) include Purple Coneflower, Solidago Goldenrod, New England Aster, and Cardinal Flower.
Native plants help support more insects, and provide food and shelter for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife. Growing plants that are indigenous of our area positively affects the entire biodiversity of a landscape. These natives help support and sustain a healthy eco system. And they’re beautiful!
A fantastic read for anyone wanting to incorporate more native plants into their landscape, or are simply more curious about native plants, I highly recommend “Bringing Nature Home” by Doug Tallamy, entomologist, wildlife ecologist, and author. It’s a notable book making the case for native plants and how they affect the entire web of nature. Also, “Native Plants of the Northeast” by Donald Leopold is an excellent reference book for those looking to identify native plant species.
Next time you’re out hiking, see how many native plants you can find on one of our beautiful trails in North Stonington. Do you have any native plantings in your garden or landscape? Submit a picture and let’s celebrate helping grow plants that truly give back.
For a full list of native plant, tree, and shrubs species in CT, visit ct.gov
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