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Choose the Perfect Plant

This online tool is designed to help you find the native plants best-suited for specific sites that provide the greatest ecological function and benefit, and that will also complement your Cape Cod landscape design. Using the dropdowns below, you have the ability to find plants based on these six criteria: Plant Type, Sunlight, Soils, Bloom Month, Size, and Nature Benefits. Based on your choices, the results will automatically populate.

Common Red Raspberry

Common Red Raspberry

Rubus idaeus

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun to part shade
Soils: Dry, well-draining
Bloom Time: April-May
Size: 3-4 feet in height; 5-9 feet spread

The plant has a wide native range and is prevalent throughout New England. It is an extraordinarily successful early successional plant and is one of the first to appear after major disturbances. The berries are edible and extremely attractive to both humans and wildlife. The flowers require insect pollination from bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, etc. for the fruits to appear. This raspberry is partial to the Cape’s drier, fast draining soil.

Garden Companions

Nodding Onions (Allium cernuum), Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Nature Benefits

• Fruit attracts birds and small mammals
• Flowers attract pollinators

Natural Habitat

Wetland edges, forest edges, fields, lake, and pond shorelines. It is an early successional plant and favors areas prone to disruption.

Download Plant Datasheet

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood

Benthamidia florida (formerly Cornus florida)

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun to part shade
Soils: Grows best in rich/acidic/well drained soil. Also does fine in average or clay soils.
Bloom Time: White flowers in May
Size: 15-20 feet in height, 5-8 feet spread

This smaller tree has a short trunk and a spreading crown of nearly horizontal branches. It blooms with beautiful 4-petaled flowers in May and is a popular addition to many gardens. It displays red to purple fall foliage and develops berries in October that are edible to wildlife. Indigenous Americans used the aromatic bark and roots as a remedy for malaria, and red dye could also be extracted from the roots.

Garden Companions

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Seeds and berries provide food for birds.
• Supports over 100 species of butterflies and moths throughout their life cycle.
• Sprouts and seeds support a variety of mammals. 
• Provides shelter and habitat for many wildlife species. 

Natural Habitat

Occurs in forests, forest edges, and woodlands.

Download Plant Datasheet

Whorled Milkweed

Whorled Milkweed

Asclepias verticillata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full Sun to Partial
Soils: medium to dry
Bloom Time: July, August
Size: 1-2 feet in height

A Cape Cod native, but rare in Massachusetts. Drought-tolerant. Leaves are narrow, needle like. It serves as a host plant for monarch caterpillars. Flowers are fragrant. Good for a low meadow setting or container planting. Like all milkweeds, produces pods with many seeds. May not flower until second year of growth.

Garden Companions

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts monarch butterflies to lay their eggs.
• Flowers attract other pollinators.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in fields, pastures, and roadsides.

Download Plant Datasheet

Blue-eyed Grass

Blue-eyed Grass

Sisyrinchium angustifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full Sun to Partial
Soils: medium
Bloom Time: May-June
Size: 8-10 inches in height

A Cape Cod native! Prefers well-drained soils in full sun or part shade, and drought tolerant once established. A short-lived perennial should be divided every 2-3 years to promote vigor and increase life span. Avoid thick mulch layer that will cause crown rot. Will reseed, but if reseeding is not desirable, sheer/deadhead to remove developing seed capsules. The flowers open with the warmth of the sun. Best used as a border front, in rock gardens, to line pathways, at the woodland’s edge or groundcover. Somewhat unpalatable to rabbits.

Garden Companions

Smooth Aster (Aster laevis), Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bumble bees, sweat bees, and other pollinators.
• Seeds are valuable to small mammals and birds.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in fields and wetland edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Eastern Bluestar

Eastern Bluestar

Amsonia tabernaemontana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full Sun to Partial
Soils: sandy, clay, loamy
Bloom Time: Blue flowers in May-June
Size: 2-3ft tall with 2-3ft spread

Native to southern states and according to GoBotany.NativePlantTrust.org it is found in New England due to garden introduction. A good choice for containers, butterfly gardens, rain garden or naturalized garden. Prefers moist garden conditions, however once established it is drought tolerant. Slow grower, low care. Unpalatable to deer.

Garden Companions

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), False Indigo (Baptisia australis), Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts hummingbirds, carpenter bees, hummingbird moths, and butterflies like mourning cloak.
• Larval host for coral hairstreak butterfly.

Natural Habitat

Naturally occurs meadows, fields, shores of rivers or lakes.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photos

Silverrod / White Goldenrod

Silverrod / White Goldenrod

Solidago bicolor

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full to partial sun
Soils: poor, sandy, clay; dry to average moisture
Bloom Time: White to yellowish flowers July through October
Size: 1-3 feet tall; 1ft spread

This is an east coast native that is extremely drought and salt tolerant. Sap is distasteful to deer and rabbits. Like all goldenrods, it does not contribute to hayfever and is extremely important to supporting local food webs.

Garden Companions

Little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium); Yellow Wild Indigo (Baptisia tinctoria); Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts a wide variety of pollinators, including specialized bees.
• Host plant for caterpillars of brown-hooded owlet, wavy-lined emerald, and others.
• Seeds are eaten by songbirds. 

Natural Habitat

Open woodlands.

Download Plant Datasheet

Green and Gold

Green and Gold

Chrysogonum virginianum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Partial to full shade
Soils: moist, well-drained
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers mostly in spring, with sporadic flowers into September
Size: 6 inches, spread 24 inches

Low growing semi-evergreen groundcover. Drought tolerant and good for naturalizing. Native to Pennsylvania and states south. Plant is susceptible to mildew in situations with poor drainage and too much mulch limiting air flow around the leaves. Resistant to fire. Early spring flowers support pollinators. Plant along woodland edges, walkways, rock gardens.

Garden Companions

Dwarf Iris (Iris cristata), Foam Flower (Tiarella spp), Eastern Wood Fern (Dryopteris marginalis)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts wide variety of pollinators looking for early season nectar.
• Seeds are eaten by songbirds.

Natural Habitat

Naturally occurs in woodlands.

Download Plant Datasheet

New York Ironweed

New York Ironweed

Vernonia novaboracensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Medium moisture
Bloom Time: Purple flowers late August through September
Size: 4-6 foot in height

A tall, coarse, and upright plant that creates beautiful deep purple flowers that turn into rusty seed clusters. This plant is great for bordering backyard garden areas and wildflower gardens. Needs consistent moisture to be happy but will tolerate short periods of dryness. Native to Barnstable County.

Garden Companions

Goldenrod (Solidago spp); White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricatus)

Nature Benefits

• Important nectar source for many species of bees, butterflies, skippers, and moths.
• Seedheads are eaten by birds.

Natural Habitat

Occurs naturally in thickets along streams, pondshores, fields and meadows.

Download Plant Datasheet

Nodding Onion

Nodding Onion

Allium cernuum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: prefers moist, circumneutral pH soils, but is tough and adaptable to drier spots.
Bloom Time: June-September
Size: Up to 2 feet tall when flowering.

Pompom-shaped, purple flowers appear on the plant throughout the summer. Seed head begins to droop as it matures, hence the name “nodding” onion. Not as edible as other Allium sp., so best saved for the bees! Can self-seed in ideal conditions and benefits from being divided after a few years. Other native Alliums such as Allium canadense (Wild Garlic) and Allium schoenoprasum (Wild Chives) are a bit tougher, but less showy. Not a Cape Cod native, but native to Long Island and states to the west and south.

Garden Companions

Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis), Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.)

Nature Benefits

• Highly attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds

Natural Habitat

Dry to moist prairies, stream banks, open woodlands.

Download Plant Datasheet

Beaked Hazelnut

Beaked Hazelnut

Corylus cornuta

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full, partial
Soils: Medium-dry to Moist, well-drained
Bloom Time: February, March
Size: 3-8ft tall

A true Cape Cod native shrub. Foliage turns bright yellow in fall. Male catkins appear before the leaves. Flowers are inconspicuous pinky-purple and are wind pollinated. The nuts are enclosed in a husk that extends beyond the nut to form the “beak.” Nuts are a favorite of wildlife.  Its long catkins are a welcome sight in the garden in late winter. It is an attractive shrub in a woodland garden.

Garden Companions

Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis); Padoga Dogwood (Cornus alterniflora); Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Nature Benefits

• Nuts are favorite of wildlife

Natural Habitat

Forests, and forest edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Common Blue Violet

Common Blue Violet

Viola sororia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part shade or light, filtered shade. Tolerates full sun in wetter soil.
Soils: Average to moist, well drained soils
Bloom Time: April, May, June
Size: 4-10 inches high

A wonderful and easy to grow wildflower which readily self-seeds. Excellent for planting in masses under deciduous trees, on the borders of flower beds, or filling a shaded, low-traffic area of a lawn. Better to have many growing because their greens are food source for small mammals, turkeys, quail, and caterpillars. Also edible for humans! More information on the many other native species in the genus viola, and their habitats, can be found on https://gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org/

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis); Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), Heartleaf Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium), Canada Anemone (Anemonastrum canadense)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar and nesting material for native bees.
• Leaves and seeds are eaten by small mammals, turkey, bobwhite quail, and grouse.
• Larval host for the Great Spangled Fritillary (Speyeria cybele)

Natural Habitat

Moist-average woodlands, woodland edges. Other viola species can be found in drier or wetter areas.

Download Plant Datasheet

Northern Sea Oats

Northern Sea Oats

Chasmanthium latifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Part shade to shade. Tolerates more sun in wetter soils but prefers shade.
Soils: Tolerates a wide range of soils.
Bloom Time: July-September. Seed heads appear in the fall and persist into winter.
Size: 4-10 inches high.

One of our most beautiful and adaptable ornamental grasses for fall and winter interest, and the only one with considerable shade tolerance. Will readily spread in richer, moist soils, but sticks to upright clumps in dry soils. Elegant drooping seed heads are a food source for birds and woodland mammals. Deer resistant, heat tolerant, and easy to divide and transplant.

Garden Companions

White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra); Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta); Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica); Appalachian False Goat’s Beard (Astilbe biternata)

Nature Benefits

• Seedheads are late season food for small mammals and granivorous birds.
• Larval host for several species of skipper butterfly (family Hesperiidae)

Natural Habitat

Riverbanks, floodplains, moist woodland slopes and edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Virginia Wild Rye

Virginia Wild Rye

Elymus virginicus

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Sun to part shade
Soils: Prefers heavy, rich, moist soils but will tolerate average sandy soils in shadier spots
Bloom Time: March, April, May. Seed drops end of spring/early summer
Size: Up to 4ft

A true problem solver! Mix with an aggressive warm season spreader like Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata) for a seed mix that can quickly reclaim eroded landscapes and out-compete problematic invasives like Japanese Knotweed (alongside cutting and hand-pulling first resprouts). Great for re-establishing native vegetation after intensive invasive species control or construction on moist slopes. Provides cover and food for wildlife.

Garden Companions

Prairie Cordgrass (Spartina pectinata), Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Scarlet Beebalm (Mondarda didyma), Mountain Mints (Pycnathemum sp.)

Nature Benefits

• Rapid groundcover for protecting exposed soil from invasive weeds.
• Provides food for waterfowl and granivorous birds.
• Provides cover for frogs, small mammals, and birds.

Natural Habitat

Riverbanks, moist slopes and woodland edges, pasture.

Download Plant Datasheet

Field Pussytoes

Field Pussytoes

Antennaria neglecta

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: Dry-Average, sandy or gravelly soils. Needs lean soils with good drainage.
Bloom Time: April, May, June
Size: 4-10 inches high.

A cute, inconspicuous groundcover for neglected areas and forms dense colonies. Excellent for seeding into a dry, patchy lawn, planting on a roadside strip, or a rock garden. Small, white flower spikes bounce around in the breeze like little cat paws. Bees and butterflies will visit the flowers. Several other similar Antennaria sp. may also be found in native plant nurseries.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis); Wavy hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa); Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis); Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum); Bearberry (Arctostaphylosuva-ursi)

Nature Benefits

• Provides pollen and nectar for native bees and butterflies.
• Larval host for the American Lady butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis)

Natural Habitat

Dry, open areas; roadsides, graveyards, old fields

Download Plant Datasheet

Wild Sundial Lupine

Wild Sundial Lupine

Lupinus perennis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to part shade.
Soils: Dry to Moist, well drained soils. Prefers light, sandy or gravelly soil.
Bloom Time: May-July
Size: Up to 2ft tall in bloom

An excellent choice for barren areas as the plant prefers not to compete with other plants and is excellent at colonizing open space. Prefers not to be transplanted, so it is best grown from seed. Nitrogen fixer, drought tolerant once established. The beauty of its bloom is unrivaled in late spring. Establish a population on your property and brag about it to your neighbors. Attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. BEWARE of non-native look-alikes in nurseries, they threaten to displace wild populations of this threatened plant, putting insects that depend on this species at risk of extinction.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis pectinacea), Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host to the critically endangered Karner Blue Butterfly (Plebejus samuelis)
• Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and native bees.

Natural Habitat

Sand dunes, pine barrens, open woodlands and clearings, especially after a wildfire or landslide.

Download Plant Datasheet

Eastern Prickly Pear

Eastern Prickly Pear

Opuntia humifusa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun
Soils: Dry, sandy or rocky soil. Needs good drainage.
Bloom Time: June-August. Fruit in mid-fall.
Size: Up to 18 inches tall. Usually creeping.

New England’s only native cactus! Beautiful showy flowers and delicious, edible purple fruit make this plant a wonderful, unique specimen for rock gardens, roadsides, and barren sand/gravel strips. Great contrast with sparse grasses and herbs. Wild plants are protected in MA.

Garden Companions

Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectibilis), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Wavy Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa)

Nature Benefits

• Fruit for birds, small mammals and people!
• Provides nectar and pollen for native bees.

Natural Habitat

Dry, sandy and rocky areas such as dunes and gravel fields.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photo Gallery

Buttonbush

Buttonbush

Cephalanthus occidentalis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: Moist to wet soils. Tolerates standing water
Bloom Time: Mid-Summer
Size: up to 12 ft

Showy, pom-pom like flowers attract tons of butterflies and hummingbirds. Loves water. Makes an attractive hedge or accent shrub at the edge of a pond or in a marshy area. Flowers mature into button-like fruits filled with seeds which attract ducks and other water birds.

Garden Companions

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata); Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor); Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis); Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata); Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for native bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies
• Seeds are eaten by ducks and other waterfowl
• Larval host to several species of sphinx moth

Natural Habitat

Marshes, wet meadows, bogs, and pond edges

Download Plant Datasheet

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Oakleaf Hydrangea

Hydrangea quercifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade or filtered shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained soils
Bloom Time: May, June, July
Size: 6-8 feet.

Perfect size, low maintenance shrub for an informal hedge or as a showy specimen. Shade tolerant. Finely divided leaves reminiscent of oaks, and large white flower spikes persist throughout the season. Fabulous fall color, and the peely bark and dry flowers provide winter interest as well. Great replacement for the ever-popular non-native hydrangeas. Native to southern states but does well in Massachusetts landscapes.

Garden Companions

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora); Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum); Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis); Dwarf Crested Iris (Iris cristata)

Nature Benefits

• Insects overwinter in spent stems.
• Nesting material for birds 

Natural Habitat

Moist woods, riverbanks of southern states.

Download Plant Datasheet

Photo Gallery

Sensitive Fern

Sensitive Fern

Onoclea sensibilis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part shade. Tolerates full sun in wet soils.
Soils: Moist to wet, acidic soils
Bloom Time: N/A
Size: Up to 3 feet tall

Distinctive, coarsely lobed fern that spreads by rhizomes in wet areas. Great as an underplanting for shrubs or as a filler in wet meadows. It is named sensitive fern because it quickly withers after the first frost. Bright lime green foliage, often with reddish undertones on fiddleheads and stems.

Garden Companions

Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea); Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum); Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata); Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Nature Benefits

• Shelters salamanders and frogs
• Can spread aggressively, protecting soil from exotic invasive spreaders.

Natural Habitat

Moist woods, floodplains, streambanks, marshy ditches

Download Plant Datasheet

Mayapple / American Mandrake

Mayapple / American Mandrake

Podophyllum peltatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part Shade, Shade
Soils: Average to Moist, acidic sandy loams.
Bloom Time: April/May. Fruit in mid-summer.
Size: 1-1.5ft tall. Spreads along the ground.

A unique woodland plant that grows very well in Cape Cod’s sandy deciduous forests. Interesting star-shaped foliage and spreading rhizomatic habit make this an excellent companion alongside native spring ephemerals. All parts of the plant are highly toxic to eat except the small yellow fruit, which has a lemony, candy-like flavor. Native to western MA.

Garden Companions

Deciduous trees – not pines! Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata), Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea)

Nature Benefits

• Fruit is eaten by box turtles and small mammals.

Natural Habitat

Mixed deciduous forest, shaded riverbanks and shaded fields.

Download Plant Datasheet

Indian Grass

Indian Grass

Sorghastrum nutans

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Full to part sun
Soils: Dry to moist soils
Bloom Time: August-October
Size: Up to 8ft tall

A beautiful, tall ornamental grass with a bronze, metallic sheen to the seedheads. Blueish green foliage turns yellow as it begins to produce seeds in the fall. A crucial species in tallgrass prairies and is best utilized in naturalized masses. Great plant for screening.

Garden Companions

Joe-Pye Weeds (Eutrochium sp.); Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis); New York Ironweed (Vernonia noveborecensis); Ox-Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nesting material and cover for birds and native bees.
• Seed heads provide late season food for birds.

Natural Habitat

Fields, rocky shorelines, woodland openings, and roadsides.

Download Plant Datasheet

Virginia Bird-cherry / Chokecherry

Virginia Bird-cherry / Chokecherry

Prunus virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade.
Soils: Dry-Moist. Prefers richer loams but is highly adaptable.
Bloom Time: May-June. Fruits in late summer.
Size: up to 30ft. Varies depending on light and soil conditions.

A large shrub or small deciduous tree with impressive adaptation to a wide variety of growing conditions. Can grow as a forest tree in moist shade or as a shrub on dry bluffs. Profuse cream- white flowers in late spring. Fruits are puckery sour but addictive and make a good July snack. Very attractive plant to birds and butterflies.

Garden Companions

Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia); White Oak (Quercus alba); Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida); Sassafrass (Sassafras albidum); New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for native bees and butterflies.
• Important food source for birds and mammals.
• Larval host to a huge variety of moths and butterflies such as hairstreaks and sphinx moths.

Natural Habitat

Moist woods, stream banks; prairie hillsides, fence rows, roadsides; sandy bluffs

Download Plant Datasheet

Pussy Willow

Pussy Willow

Salix discolor

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun
Soils: Moist to wet soils.
Bloom Time: February, March
Size: Up to 20ft tall, often shorter. Tolerates being cut back aggressively.

Fast growing shrub. Appreciates being cut back every few years to encourage vigorous new suckering growth. Fuzzy buds appear in late winter and open into sticky catkins which provide nectar and pollen during a crucial time of the year when food is scarce. Beautiful as an accent in cut flower arrangements. Propagates easily from cuttings. BEWARE of non-native hybrids in nurseries – they do not support native insects.

Garden Companions

American Blue-flag (Iris versicolor); Swamp Rosemallow (Hibiscus moscheutos); Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris); Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for native bees very early in the year when food is scarce.
• Larval host to many butterflies and moths, including the Morning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), Viceroy (Limenitis archippus), and the Cecropia Moth (Hyalophora cecropia).
• Birds feed on the buds and catkins; twigs are browsed by deer.

Natural Habitat

Marshy, low areas; streambanks and ditches.

Download Plant Datasheet

Bird’s Foot Violet

Bird’s Foot Violet

Viola pedata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to partial, filtered shade
Soils: Dry, acidic, sandy or gravelly soils. Needs good drainage.
Bloom Time: April – June
Size: 4-10 inches high

Beautiful lilac-colored flowers, larger than most violets – more like a pansy. A low, clumping perennial, easily identified by its finely divided bird’s foot-like leaves. Does well in poor upland soils, prefers not to compete with other plants. Great for rock gardens.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis); Wavy Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa); Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis); New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus); Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for native bees and butterflies.
• Larval host for the Regal Fritillary (Speyeria idalia)

Natural Habitat

Rocky, open woods; sandy prairies and pine barrens

Download Plant Datasheet

Tupelo/Black Gum

Tupelo/Black Gum

Nyssa sylvatica

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Full sun, part sun
Soils: Medium to wet soils.
Bloom Time: Small green flowers from April-May, producing a sour black fruit in fall.
Size: 20-50 feet in height.

Spectacular fall colors and pyramidal shape. Extremely high wildlife value, as the fruits are enjoyed by birds and small mammals and the flowers are important for early spring pollinators. The fruit is edible but quite sour. This tree is a favorite of European honeybees for nesting and honey production. Slow grower and can live over 600 years.

Garden Companions

Red Maple (Acer Rubrum); Great Rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum); Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia); Canada Mayflower (Maianthemium canadense); Southern Magnolia (Magnolia Grandiflora); Native ferns

Nature Benefits

• Provides nectar for native bees.
• Attracts birds and small mammals with fruit in the fall.
• Hollows in the tree are very popular nesting sites for woodpeckers, owls, small mammals, and honeybees.

Natural Habitat

Moist deciduous forests and swamps. Occasionally tolerant of drier sites.

Download Plant Datasheet

Rabbit Tobacco

Rabbit Tobacco

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Annual
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in August, September, October too?
Size: 1-3 feet in height

Also called sweet everlasting the leaves give off a maple syrup fragrance. Appropriate for butterfly and pollinator gardens. Widespread in the eastern half of the US it has cobwebby or wooly stems and small heads. Used medicinally for many ailments by native tribes.

Garden Companions

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for the American Lady butterfly
• Flower nectar attracts bees, butterflies, wasps, and flies

Natural Habitat

Occurs in dry clearings, fields, and wood edges.

Download Plant Datasheet

Pearly Everlasting

Pearly Everlasting

Anaphalis margaritacea

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Poor sandy, dry or average
Bloom Time: White flowers in July, August, September
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 1-2 foot spread

Plant in rock gardens or to fill wide areas on slopes. It forms pearly mounds good for garden edges. Separate male and female flowers. Blossoms keep their color and shape well and are used in dried flower arrangements. Used by Native Americans as a substitute for tobacco and as a medicinal herb and in folk medicine as a salve for burns. Widely found and native to Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Pussytoes (Antennaria plantaginifolia), Sweet Everlasting (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium), Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

Nature Benefits

• Food plant for painted lady butterflies
• Larval host plant to the American Lady and Skipper butterflies

Natural Habitat

Occurs in disturbed areas, fields, shores of lakes.

Download Plant Datasheet

Common Sneezeweed

Common Sneezeweed

Helenium autumnale

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist to wet
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in July, August, September
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

Plant this clump-forming perennial with daisy-like flowers in borders, meadows, and wild gardens. It blooms later in the summer when other blossoms have faded. Sneezeweed pollen does not cause allergies, but the leaves were crushed for snuff to induce sneezing for congestion or headaches. Not native on Cape Cod but is found in parts of New England.

Garden Companions

Rose Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bees and other pollinators.
• Foliage is toxic and bitter, so mammalian herbivores don’t feed on it.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in meadows, shores of lakes, wetlands

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Appalachian Mountain Mint

Appalachian Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum flexuosum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White flowers in July, August
Size: 2-3 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

An aromatic, good soil stabilizer, it produces silvery white flowers above light green foliage. This species is not aggressive and will slowly expand. Plant in the border of a rain garden, pollinator, or native garden. Attracts throngs of desirable pollinators. Not a New England native but native to the southeast

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), Big Bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardii)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for the Gray Hairstreak Butterfly and Wavy-lined Emerald
• Attracts bees, butterflies, moths, and wasps

Natural Habitat

Occurs in meadows, roadsides, open woodlands.

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Sheep Laurel

Sheep Laurel

Kalmia angustifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry or moist
Bloom Time: Pink flowers in June, July
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Adaptable to a variety of sites, plant in naturalized areas, foundation plantings, or woodland gardens. The showy Sheep Laurel is allelopathic, roots exude chemicals that inhibit conifer growth, it is also toxic to many mammals. It may form large evergreen colonies. The flowers are miniatures of Mountain Laurel. Native to Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), Sweet Fern (Comptonia peregrina)

Nature Benefits

• Provides winter forage and cover for birds
• Caterpillar host for the White Slant-line and the Mottled Gray Carpet moths

Natural Habitat

Found in forests, shores of ponds and lakes, bogs, and woodlands.

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Photos

Selfheal

Selfheal

Prunella vulgaris

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist, rich
Bloom Time: Purple flowers in July, August
Size: 6-12 inches in height

Selfheal is easy to grow under most conditions and can be aggressive. The common name comes from worldwide medicinal use of this plant. The leaves can be eaten cooked or raw. The plant commonly found in lawns is thought to be the Eurasian variety. Native to Cape Cod and the US.

Garden Companions

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida)

Nature Benefits

• Flowers attract bees, small butterflies, and skippers.
• Larval host for the Clouded Sulphur Butterfly.
• Provides nectar for the Zabulon Skipper.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in meadows and fields, woodland borders, roadsides.

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Slender Mountain Mint

Slender Mountain Mint

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time:  White flowers in July, August, September
Size: 8-20 inches in height; 12-36 inch spread

In addition to being a good garden plant with the narrow leaves and small white flower clusters Slender Mountain Mint stands out because of its above average attraction for pollinators. Plant in a perennial border, pollinator garden, rain garden, or near the vegetable garden to entice pollinators. The aromatic plant with shallow rhizomes is more aggressive than other Pycnanthemums so needs root pruning to keep from spreading. This is also called Narrow Leaved Mountain Mint and is native to Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Sweet Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), Big Bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardii)

Nature Benefits

• Flowers attract a wide variety of pollinators.
• Larval host plant for Gray Hairstreak Butterfly.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in meadows and fields, dry rocky, open woods, pine barrens.

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Pale Purple Coneflower

Pale Purple Coneflower

Echinacea pallida

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part sun
Soils: Rich, dry to moist
Bloom Time: Pale purple to pink flowers in June, July
Size: up to 3 feet in height; 1 foot spread

Low maintenance and resilient with lance shaped drooping rays with a bold central reddish brown cone. Good planted with native grasses. Blooms earlier than purple coneflower so planted together gives many weeks of blooms. Many medicinal uses. Found on Cape Cod but not native here.

Garden Companions

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bees and butterflies.
• Provides nectar for hummingbirds and butterflies.
• Goldfinches eat seeds.
• Wavy-Line Emerald Moth feeds on flower heads.

Natural Habitat

Occurs in old fields and roadsides, open wooded hillsides, and pinelands.

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Purple Lovegrass

Purple Lovegrass

Eragrostis spectabilis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Poor, average to dry
Bloom Time: Bronzy purple/red inflorescence in August, September
Size: 8-14 inches in height; 10-16 inch spread

Plant this low, bunching grass with a mounding habit in sunny open perennial borders, meadows, or along roadsides. The inflorescence exhibits a fluffy texture giving a purple haze to the landscape when planted in groups. Provides erosion control on roadsides and hillsides. Native to Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Eastern Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa), Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), White Wood-aster (Eurybia divaricata)

Nature Benefits

• Popular with insect herbivores such as leafhoppers
• Caterpillar host for the Zabulon Skipper
• Birds use dry panicles for nesting

Natural Habitat

Occurs in coastal beaches, meadows and prefers disturbed sandy areas.

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Sourwood

Sourwood

Oxydendrum arboreum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic, well-drained
Bloom Time: July, August
Size: 15 – 30 feet in height; 12 foot spread

This deciduous tree, while native to southwest Pennsylvania and states south, sourwood makes a good ornamental landscape tree on Cape Cod. It is in the heath family and its fragrant summer flowers are pollinated by insects and are a good source of nectar. Fall color is outstanding! Trees planted in the shade may grow taller and flower less. Salt tolerant and can withstand periodic droughts if established.

Garden Companions

Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators and butterflies
• Attracts songbirds
• Host plant of sphinx moths

Native Habitat

In its native range, found as single trees at forest edges, often within upland oak forests.

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PHOTOS

Christmas Fern

Christmas Fern

Polystichum acrostichoides

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part to full shade
Soils: Medium to Moist, well-drained
Bloom Time: Not a flowering plant
Size: 1-2 feet in height

This glossy green leathery fern is green year-round. It grows in clumps. Silvery fiddleheads appear in spring. It grows happily in the Cape’s sandy soils but likes it moist and shady. It will grow successfully under walnut trees. Great choice for accent, borders, mass planting as a groundcover, or as a potted plant.

Garden Companions

Violets (Viola sororia), Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)

Nature Benefits

• Provides winter cover.
• Songbirds use parts of the plant for nesting material.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods, stream banks, swamps, and thickets.

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Hyssop-leaved Boneset

Hyssop-leaved Boneset

Eupatorium hyssopifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to Part
Soils: Wet to dry soil conditions
Bloom Time: White flowers in August, September
Size: 2-4 feet in height

This meadow plant is a vase shaped perennial. Foliage is narrow and gray green. In late summer plants are covered with dense flat terminal clusters of white florets. The clouds of flowers attract a myriad of pollinators. This species thrives in well drained or dry sites. Good in a grouping or mass planting. Use in a cottage garden, rain garden, perennial border, or xeric-scape design. This is a true Cape Cod native.

Garden Companions

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Goldenrods (Solidago spp), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Nature Benefits

• Unappealing to deer and rabbits.
• A favorite of butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
• Particularly important to beneficial insects.

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in sandy soils of fields, roadsides, pondshores, and cranberry bog borrow pits.

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Photos

Black Cohosh / Bugbane

Black Cohosh / Bugbane

Actaea racemosa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Partial sun, shade
Soils: Moist, average
Bloom Time: White spike flowers in June, July, August
Size: 4-5 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

Also known as black snakeroot with striking tall flower spikes and sharply divided foliage. It is an excellent choice for massing in a naturalistic garden. Flowering commences as spring wildflowers fade. Deer and rabbit resistant. Formerly Cimicifuga racemosa. Extremely rare in the wild in Massachusetts and some populations are introduced as escapes from gardens. Not found naturally on Cape Cod. Native to states west and south in the eastern U.S.

Garden Companions

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium maculatum), Maple-leaved Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the Spring Azure.
• Attractive to pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges and shady upland woods.

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Photos

Smooth Sumac

Smooth Sumac

Rhus glabra

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial, Shade
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: June, July
Size: 10-20 feet tall, spread 20 feet

Colony-forming shrub – most noticeable for its brilliant fall color and bright red fruit. The plant is dioecious and only the female plants produce fruit. Sumac is effective where it has room to establish in its natural drift form. Colonies can be rejuvenated by cutting to the ground in mid-winter every few years. Great for dry, tough locations, especially on slopes. Great plant for restoration projects.

Garden Companions

Other species of sumac, Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Nature Benefits

• Flowers attract pollinators
• Berries provide food for many birds
• Provides wild bees nesting materials and structure for their life cycles

Native Habitat

Occurs in old fields, hardwood forest edges, and dry uplands.

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Photos

Fragrant Sumac

Fragrant Sumac

Rhus aromatica

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: June, July
Size: 2-6 feet tall, spread 6-10 feet

Good fast growing ground cover for banks and slopes. Can be massed or used in wind breaks. It suckers and roots where stems touch the ground and forms a dense stand. The straight species is usually tall and leggy in a garden setting, but the cultivar ‘Gro-Low’ is useful as a landscape plant for ground cover and stays no higher than three feet. Like all sumacs, it is dioecious, and fruit will only appear on female plants.

Garden Companions

Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), Little Bluestem Grass (Schizachyrium scoparium), Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Nature Benefits

• Flowers attract pollinators
• Berries provide food for many birds and mammals
• Provides wild bees nesting materials and structure for their life cycles

Native Habitat

Occurs in old fields, hardwood forest edges, and dry uplands.

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Photos

Spiderwort

Spiderwort

Tradescantia ohiensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: June, July
Size: 2-4 feet tall

Its grass-like foliage grows in an upright form. The lavender blue flowers bloom from morning to midday, and close in the heat of the afternoon. This helps the plant conserve energy that can be put toward flowering for a longer period. A good choice for a rain garden.

Garden Companions

Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Nature Benefits

• Attract pollinators and butterflies

Native Habitat

Occurs in fields and along roadsides.

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Photos

Staghorn Sumac

Staghorn Sumac

Rhus typhina

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full Sun, Partial, Shade
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: June, July
Size: 15-25 feet tall

Colony-forming shrub – most noticeable for its brilliant fall color and bright red fruit. The plant is dioecious and only the female plants produce fruit. Staghorn sumac is effective where it has room to establish in its natural drift form. Colonies can be rejuvenated by cutting to the ground in mid-winter every few years. Great for dry, tough locations, especially on slopes. Great plant for restoration projects.

Garden Companions

Other species of sumac, Common Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)

Nature Benefits

• Flowers attract pollinators
• Berries provide food for many birds
• Provides wild bees nesting materials and structure for their life cycles

Native Habitat

Occurs in old fields, hardwood forest edges, and dry uplands.

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Photos

Turtlehead

Turtlehead

Chelone glabra

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Part Sun
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White flowers in August
Size: 2-4 feet in height

White Turtlehead is named for its distinctive flowers which are said to resemble a turtle’s head. It is mostly pollinated by bumblebees. In the wild, flower color can vary from pink to green. The vibrant Pink Turtlehead (Chelone lyonii) is often found in retail nurseries; however, this species of turtlehead is introduced to New England and is native to southeastern states. It appreciates a good, composted leaf mulch, particularly in sunny locations. A good choice for a rain garden.

Garden Companions

Red Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), Rose Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Blue Flag Iris (Iris versicolor), and Coastal Plain Joe-pye Weed (Eutrochium dubium)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar source for hummingbirds and bumblebees
• Host plant for various species of moths and butterflies

Native Habitat

Occurs along shores of lakes, swamps, and wetland edges.

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Meehan’s Mint

Meehan’s Mint

Meehania cordata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part shade, shade, sun
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: Lavender blue in May, June
Size: 4-8 inches in height; 4-32 inch spread

This rare well-behaved mint, with its trailing stems, will root as it spreads although less readily in dry shade than in moist shaded areas. Plant Meehan’s Mint as a groundcover, as living mulch under shrubs, or border edging in woodland or shade gardens. It prefers shade but tolerates dry sites in deep shade or full sun with sufficient moisture. This mint is not found in New England in the wild but is native to Pennsylvania and other states further to the south.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Plaintain Sedge (Carex plantaginea), Green and Gold (Chrysogonum virginianum)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar source for hummingbirds and insects

Native Habitat

Occurs in rich woods and wooded slopes.

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Dense Blazing Star

Dense Blazing Star

Liatris spicata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: Purple flowers in July, August
Size: 12-24 inches in height; 12-18 inch spread

Also known as gayfeather it has an upright habit taking little space to grow. Well-suited for a small gardens, perennial border, natural or wildlife garden, or planted in masses. It is the most moisture-tolerant of the Liatris species. Cherokee used the plant, especially roots, in herbal medicine. Popular garden plant although not a native to Cape Cod. Native range is eastern U.S., but from Pennsylvania to the south. Good choice for a rain garden.

Garden Companions

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts native bees and butterflies, birds, and hummingbirds
• Seeds provide forage for wildlife
• Nectar source for Silver Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), Painted Lady (Vanessa Cardui)

Native Habitat

Occurs in wood openings, moist prairies, and marsh edges.

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Photos

Purple Coneflower

Purple Coneflower

Echinacea purpurea

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, well-drained
Bloom Time: Purple in July, August
Size: 2-3 feet in height; 18-24 inch spread

Plant this easy-to-grow, drought tolerant wildflower in the perennial border or in masses. Native range includes New York and Pennsylvania and parts west. It is not a New England native, but it is a popular garden plant that does well on Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar plant for native bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and wasps.
• Goldfinches eat seeds in the fall.

Native Habitat

Occurs in disturbed habitats, forest edges, and meadows.

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Spotted Joe Pye Weed – ‘Gateway’

Spotted Joe Pye Weed – ‘Gateway’

Eutrochium maculatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Average
Bloom Time: August, September
Size: 4-5 feet in height

Not indigenous to Cape Cod, but native to much of the rest of New England. Plants can be cut back to half its height in early summer for late summer blooms on shorter stems. This plant is best showcased in masses or dramatic accent in a cottage or wildlife garden. Flower heads are 12” wide clusters of flowers that will dry to seedheads giving interest to a winter garden. Cut back in early spring leaving 6-18” remaining to provide hollow stems for wild bees. Good choice for rain gardens and meadows. Makes a good cut flower.

Garden Companions

Obedient Plant (Physostegia virginiana), Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinator magnet
• Seeds are attractive to birds

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally in openings in marshes, meadows, and fields.

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Aromatic Aster

Aromatic Aster

Symphyotrichum oblongifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Prefers full sun
Soils: Prefers lean, medium-dry soil conditions
Bloom Time: Light purple flowers in September, October, sometimes into November
Size: 2 feet in height, stiff stems will branch out giving a bush-like appearance

Native to other parts of the country, this is an aster that can be easily found in retail nurseries to add to late flowering plants to support pollinators. It is the leaves that are aromatic on this
aster. When in bloom, the light purple flowers cover the bush-like plant and slowly bronze to a reddish purple. The plant may “open up” if it gets too top heavy, so a good prune in June is helpful. This aster does well in lean soils.

Garden Companions

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Highly resistant to deer and rabbits
• A favorite for butterflies and bees

Native Habitat

In its native range, it occurs in rocky and sandy soils such as those found in prairies and bluffs as well as in moist woodland habitats.

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Blue Wood Aster / Heart-leaved Aster

Blue Wood Aster / Heart-leaved Aster

Symphyotrichum cordifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Partial shade, full shade, full sun
Soils: Medium to medium-dry soil conditions
Bloom Time: Light blue flowers in September, October
Size: 3 feet in height; 1-2 foot spread

Blue Wood Aster has a wonderful array of dainty blue flowers that attract butterflies and bees. It is an excellent fall bloomer in a perennial border when others are starting to fade. It also makes an attractive cut flower and is a great naturalizer at the edge of woods.

Garden Companions

Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia)

Nature Benefits

• Root system is an effective erosion control on hillsides.
• Offers nectar and pollen for butterflies and bees.
• Supports specialist Adrenid Bees.
• Host plant for Pearl Crescent butterfly caterpillars.

Native Habitat

Occurs at the woodland edge, upland meadows, and forests.

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Photo Gallery

Scarlet Beebalm ‘Jacob Cline’

Scarlet Beebalm ‘Jacob Cline’

Monarda didyma ‘Jacob Cline’

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: Red in July, August
Size: 3-4 feet in height; 3 foot spread

Plant in a wildlife or cut flower garden or meadow and enjoy the aromatic foliage and showy blooms. The Jacob Cline is common native beebalm cultivar that is resistant to powdery mildew and thrives, sometimes aggressively, in sunny, moist, well-drained soil. Also known as Oswego Tea because the leaves were used for tea by the Oswego Indians of New York. It is native to New York State and states south.

Garden Companions

Dense Blazing Star (Liatris spicata), Foxglove Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Culver’s Root (Veronicastrum virginicum), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Nectar source for hummingbirds and swallowtail butterflies.
• Caterpillars of some moth species feed on the foliage.

Native Habitat

Occurs in moist open woods, meadows, stream banks.

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Photos

Zigzag Goldenrod

Zigzag Goldenrod

Solidago flexicaulis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Part shade, shade, sun
Soils: Average, dry, moist
Bloom Time: Yellow in August, September, October
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Compact pollinator plant that is shade tolerant and well-suited for a wildlife or shade garden or a natural area. Zigzag Goldenrod is good for massing and will spread by seed unless it is deadheaded. Does not require mulching because it is adapted to dry conditions. Semievergreen basal leaves provide erosion control.

Garden Companions

Goldenrods (Solidago spp.), Oxeye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides), Blue Wood Aster (Symphyotrichum cordifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Seeds attract Swamp Sparrows, Pine Siskins, and Meadow Mice
• Host plants for some moth caterpillar species
• Nectar plant for native bees, wasps, butterflies, and pollinating flies

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, protected slopes, wooded shores of rivers or lakes.

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Sundrops

Sundrops

Oenothera fruticosa

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Part shade
Soils: Average, well-drained
Bloom Time: Yellow in May, June, July
Size: 12-24 inches in height; 24-30 inch spread

Plant as a companion in a border or meadow. Also called narrow-leaf evening primrose it grows in challenging conditions and provides yellow flowers for months. It is a rapid spreader but not usually aggressive. This evening primrose blooms during the day rather than the evening.

Garden Companions

Greater Tickseed (Coreopsis major), Goldenrods (Solidago spp.)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts wide variety of bees, birds, butterflies
• Larval host for Sphinx moths

Native Habitat

Occurs along edges of salt marshes, brackish ponds, and tidal rivers.

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Photos

Showy Aster

Showy Aster

Eurybia spectabilis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, Partial
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: August, September
Size: 1-2 feet tall; 2 foot spread

Extremely drought tolerant. Plants are somewhat unpalatable to deer and rabbits. This plant will form small colonies, spreading by rhizomes, but it is not an aggressive spreader. A good addition to a pollinator garden, for mass plantings, cottage gardens and for naturalizing.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odora), Pennyslvania Sedge (Carex pennsylvanica), Little Bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators
• Offers nectar for hummingbirds

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodlands.

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Wild Blue Phlox

Wild Blue Phlox

Phlox divaricata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, Partial
Soils: Medium to dry
Bloom Time: May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height

This true native wild phlox has five petals and opposite leaves. It is a native to Connecticut, but not indigenous to Cape Cod. It spreads by its roots, but slowly. The showy flowers of blue to lavender attract pollinators making it an excellent addition to a pollinator garden. It is also an effective, shallow-rooted cover for early spring bulbs. A good plant for a small space.

Garden Companions

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Wild Columbine (Aquigelia canadensis), Calico Aster (Symphyotrichum lateriflorum)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators
• Offers nectar for hummingbirds

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodlands.

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PHOTOS

Groundsel Bush

Groundsel Bush

Baccharis halimifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Light shade to full sun
Soils: Sandy to loamy, moist to wet, well-drained
Bloom Time: August, September, October
Size: 3-10 feet in height

Also called sea-myrtle or saltbush, inconspicuous flowers give way to fluffy white seed heads that burst open on female plants in the fall months. This shrub is highly salt tolerant and can withstand salt spray and periodic flooding as well as drought, making it a great shrub for coastal landscapes and for use in rain gardens. When the white seed heads pop into view in the fall around our salt marshes, everyone asks, “What is that plant?”

Garden Companions

Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos)

Nature Benefits

• Erosion control
• Flowers attract pollinating insects
• Dense branches provide shelter for birds and other wildlife

Native Habitat

Occurs naturally along salt marshes edges.

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Dwarf Witch Alder

Dwarf Witch Alder

Fothergilla gardenii

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun to part shade
Soils: Well-drained, Average
Bloom Time: May, June
Size: 1 to 3 feet in height

A native to the southeastern states, this deciduous shrub does well on Cape Cod. The white fragrant flowers are a mass of stamens that appear before the leaves in brushy terminal spikes. Its dense, dark green, leathery foliage becomes bright yellow to scarlet red for brilliant fall color and is resistant to deer and rabbits. Good for a low hedge, in a mixed shrub planting, foundation planting, or rain garden.

Garden Companions

Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), Low Bush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bees and butterflies

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods and stream banks in states of the southeast.

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Yellow Wild Indigo

Yellow Wild Indigo

Baptista tinctoria

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun to part shade
Soils: Well-drained average to dry
Bloom Time: June, July
Size: 2-3 feet tall with 2-3 foot spread

Yellow wild indigo is also called horsefly weed. It is an upright shrubby perennial with fine textured gray- green leaves and is drought tolerant. In late spring and summer, plants are adorned with many short clusters of bright or creamy yellow pea-shaped flowers. It thrives in harsh conditions and once established is durable and long lived. All Baptisia spp. are nitrogen-fixing legumes. They have a symbiotic relationship with the Rhizobium bacteria that allows them to utilize atmospheric nitrogen.

Garden Companions

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

Nature Benefits

• Plants host caterpillars of Frosted Elfin, Wild Indigo Duskywing and Orange Sulfur butterflies as well as the caterpillars of other moths and skippers.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry meadows, oak barrens, pine barrens, open woods, and fields.

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Black Huckleberry

Black Huckleberry

Gaylussacia baccata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, Part Shade, Shade
Soils: Dry, moist
Bloom Time: Spring blossoms – April, May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height

Gaylussacia baccata closely resembles the native blueberry plants (Vaccinium species) with which it grows in the same habitats. However, it can be readily identified by the numerous resin dots on the undersides of the leaves that glitter when held up to the light. Flowers are in dangling groups of 3–7, orange or red, bell-shaped. Berries are dark blue to black when ripe. Berries are sweet and tasty. People and animals eat them raw, jellied, or in baked items.

Garden Companions

Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Sassafras (Sassafras albidum), Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• The fruit and twigs on this shrub are used by many forms of wildlife and attracts birds.
• Many species of butterflies visit the bell-like flowers for nectar.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry or moist open woods.

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Switchgrass

Switchgrass

Panicum virgatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Full Sun, part
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Purplish in summer and early fall
Size: 2-5 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

A robust, warm season bunchgrass, switchgrass is best used as a striking accent in landscapes. Seed heads are an airy cloud in late summer with golden fall foliage. Very drought tolerant once established. Rigid stems stand upright throughout the winter. Grasses give movement to the garden design. Cultivars, “Shenandoah” and “Cape Breeze”, are commonly found at retail nurseries.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida), Goldenrods (Solidago species), Aromatic Aster (Symphotrichum oblongifolium).

Nature Benefits

• Seeds are eaten by ground-feeding songbirds and game birds.
• Provides cover and nesting material for birds.
• Host for most banded skipper butterflies and the Delaware skipper.
• Deer resistant.

Native Habitat

Occurs along roadsides and upland pond edges.

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PHOTOS

Big Bluestem

Big Bluestem

Andropogon gerardii

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Full Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Purplish in summer and early fall
Size: 2-5 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

A robust, warm season bunchgrass, Big Bluestem is best used as a striking accent in meadow landscapes. Silver tufts of seeds in late summer, contrast with golden fall foliage. Very drought tolerant once established.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Goldenrods (Solidago species)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for at least eleven native butterflies and moths
• Attracts songbirds
•  Valuable to a range of insects, birds, and mammals

Native Habitat

Occurs in low meadows and moist grasslands

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PHOTOS

Winterberry

Winterberry

Ilex verticillata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade, shade
Soils: Moist, medium wet, medium, dry (once established)
Bloom Time: White flowers in June
Size: 6-10 feet in height

Known for its stunning red berries in the late fall over the winter. Like any holly, it is dioecious, and berries are born on female plants provided there is a male plant within about 50 feet. Pollen is carried by the wind. Popular paired cultivars are ‘Jim Dandy’ (male plant grows to 5ft) and ‘Red Sprite’ (female plant matures at 3-4ft).

Garden Companions

Ink berry (Ilex glabra), Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), Red Osier (Cornus sericea)

Nature Benefits

• Berries are eaten by many songbirds in the winter.
• In its mature size, provides desirable nesting habitat.

Native Habitat

Occurs at wetland edges, pond edges, and vernal pools.

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PHOTOS

Red Maple

Red Maple

Acer rubrum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Moist to average to dry
Bloom Time: April
Size: Tall

Considered a keystone species because of its value to a diverse number of insect and animal species. Red maple is known for its beautiful fall color. It can tolerate a wide range of soils, variable pH and even pollution, and therefore should be considered for use as a street tree, parks, and in rain gardens.

Garden Companions

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa); American Hazelnut (Corylus americana); Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odoro); New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae); Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Nature Benefits

• Host for over 275 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars.
• Spring flowers offer nectar and pollen for a variety of insects.
• Seeds provide food for both birds and mammals.

Native Habitat

Occurs in lowlands and wetlands but can also be found in hardwood forests.

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Photos

Tulip Tree

Tulip Tree

Liriodendron tulipifera

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Average moisture
Bloom Time: June
Size: Tall

Considered a shade tree, the tulip tree is one of the tallest hardwoods in North America. It gets its name from the shape of its flower and the shape of the leaf looks like the outline of a tulip. If out in the open, the shape of the tree is pyramidal. This tree is fast growing and can live 175 years.

Garden Companions

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa); American Hazelnut (Corylus americana); Anise-scented Goldenrod (Solidago odoro); Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum muticum); Beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis)

Nature Benefits

• Host for 20 species of moth and butterfly caterpillars, including the tulip tree silk moth.
• Ruby-throated hummingbirds and bees seek out the flowers for early season forage.
• Seeds mature in summer and persist into winter, providing food for both birds and mammals, including finches, cardinals, quail, and small mammals.

Native Habitat

Occurs in lowlands and gentle sloping hillsides.

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Photos

Cutleaf Coneflower

Cutleaf Coneflower

Rudbeckia laciniata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Partial, Shade
Soils: Dry to moderate moisture
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers July, August
Size: 5-6 feet in height; 3 foot spread

Also called green-headed coneflower. Because it spreads rampantly by underground stems, cut-leaf coneflower is only appropriate for large sites. May need staking in garden situations but otherwise very hardy.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida or Rudbeckia hirta)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinator magnet.
• Attracts birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs on shorelines of lakes and rivers and swamps.

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Ox-eye Sunflower

Ox-eye Sunflower

Helianthus helianthoides

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, Part Sun
Soils: Average, Moist or Dry
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in July, August, September
Size: 3-5 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Useful for accent, mass or grouping. Excellent for a wildlife garden or meadow. Plants provide showy blooms and erosion control. Appropriate for cottage gardens, water-wise landscapes, low maintenance plantings, perennial borders, and shade gardens.

Garden Companions

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), White Snakeroot (Eupatorium coelestinum), Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Nature Benefits

• Pollinator powerhouse!
• Goldfinches and other songbirds relish the seeds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in open woods, woodland borders, grassy meadows, stream banks, disturbed roadsides.

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White Wood Aster

White Wood Aster

Eurybia divaricata

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Part shade, Shade
Soils: Average, Moist or Dry
Bloom Time: White flowers in August, September
Size: 1-2 feet in height

Plant as a groundcover, border, or accent plant—it is an especially great choice for dry shade and under trees. Readily spreads by seeds and will fill in, but easily controlled by cutting seed heads or easy weeding. This plant is unpalatable to rabbits and deer.

Garden Companions

White Snakeroot (Ageratum altissima), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Blue-stemmed Goldenrod (Solidago caesia), King Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the caterpillar stage of the Pearl Crescent and Checkerspot butterflies.
• Provides nectar for pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry open woodlands and woodland edges.

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King Solomon’s Seal

King Solomon’s Seal

Polygonatum biflorum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White bell-shaped flowers in May, June
Size: 12-42 inches in height; 16-24 inch spread

Arching stems and vertical character provide a refined look to woodland, wild, rock, or native plant gardens. Golden leaves in fall contrast with round fruit to add interest. Grows well at base of trees. Drought tolerant and rabbit resistant.

Garden Companions

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), Wild Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Nature Benefits

• Fruit attracts birds.
• Flowers attract pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, forests, meadows, fields, woodlands.

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Photos

Swamp Azalea

Swamp Azalea

Rhododendron viscosum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White in June, July
Size: 3-5 feet in height; 3-5 feet spread

Plant Swamp Azalea as a hedge, in a mixed border, native plant garden, or in a foundation planting. The flowers appear after the leaves which have good fall color. It is one of the latest azaleas to bloom and the most fragrant. Its corolla is covered with sticky glands.

Garden Companions

Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis), Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), Inkberry (Ilex glabra)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts birds and bumble bees
• Host plant for caterpillars

Native Habitat

Occurs in shores of rivers or lakes, swamps.

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Virgin’s Bower

Virgin’s Bower

Clematis virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: White in July, August, September
Size: 3-8 feet in height; 3-5 foot spread

The most common clematis in New England, Virgin’s Bower, is a fast-growing climbing vine. It can also naturalize as a ground cover. Clusters of feathery flowers spread along the length of the vine and can be all male, all female, or all perfect (both male and female reproductive parts).

Garden Companions

Best to give it something to climb like a trellis or fence.

Nature Benefits

• Attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds.
• Foliage used for nesting birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shores of rivers or lakes, thickets, swamps.

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Foam Flower

Foam Flower

Tiarella cordifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Average, well-drained
Bloom Time: White in May, June
Size: 3-12 inches in height; 12-24 inch spread

Foam Flower makes an excellent ground cover, border, or filler for shady, woodland sites. It spreads by underground stems to form colonies and is a good alternative to mulch or lily-of- the-valley. After the spring blooming flower spikes have passed the leaves provide texture and color year-round.

Garden Companions

Dutchman’s Breeches (Dicentra culcullaria), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, swamps, wetland margins.

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Trumpet Honeysuckle

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Lonicera sempervirens

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, moist
Bloom Time: Red in May, June
Size: 4-15 feet in height; 4-8 foot spread

Also called Coral Honeysuckle, the twining vine is a good choice for a trellis or other support structure or as a ground cover. Its tubular red flowers begin to bloom in late spring and continue blooming intermittently through summer in full sun and organically rich soil. Native to the southeast, NE populations are thought to be garden escapees. A common cultivar is “Major Wheeler” shown here.

Garden Companions

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Pink Tickseed (Coreopsis rosea)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Spring Azure, Snowberry Clearwing Moth.
• Flowers attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
• Fruit attracts birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, roadsides, woodlands.

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Photos

Sassafras

Sassafras

Sassafras albidum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry to wet
Bloom Time: Yellow in April, May
Size: 6-15 feet in height; 6-15 foot spread

Plant or save Sassafras for texture and to attract wildlife. It has a sweet, fruity aroma and provides vibrant fall color ranging from red to orange to yellow. It can sucker into a small grove but is easily controlled. It is dioecious meaning the plant either has male or female flowers and only the female plant produces fruit. Until 1960 when banned for containing carcinogenic safrole, the roots and root bark provided sassafras tea and were used to flavor root beer.

Garden Companions

Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica), Wavy Hairgrass (Deschampsia flexuosa), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for butterflies and moths including Spicebush Swallowtail and Promethea Silk Moth.
• Birds feed on the fruit.
• Attracts a variety of pollinators.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, forest edges, roadsides.

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Photos

White Pine

White Pine

Pinus strobus

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: Insignificant
Size: 60-90 feet in height; 25-40 foot spread

Commonly found, White Pines grow reasonably rapidly, are tall, and have soft evergreen needles in bunches of 5, making it a good shade tree. Seedlings are more shade-tolerant than most pines and trees are long-lived, up to 450 years.

Garden Companions

Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina), Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum)

Nature Benefits

• Provides nesting habitat for Bald Eagles, cavity-nesting and other birds
• Songbirds and small mammals eat the seeds
• Caterpillar host for the Eastern Pine Elfin and Pine-devil Moth

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, forest edges, swamps, woodlands

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Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade, shade
Soils: Average, wet
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in late October, November, December
Size: 6-15 feet in height; 6-15 foot spread

Witch Hazel works well as a border plant, understory companion or specimen. Its frilly flowers bloom as leaves are dropping in the fall with golden foliage displays. The flowers are aromatic, and the fruit ejects its seeds as far as 30 feet from the parent tree. A Chinese hybrid flowers the wrong time of year, so don’t be fooled – make sure you seek out the straight native species.

Garden Companions

American Holly (Ilex opaca), Maple-leaved viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), Pasture Rose (Rosa Carolina), Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

Nature Benefits

• Birds eat the fruit and seed.
• Caterpillar host to caterpillars of these moths: Bethune’s Pinion, Drexel’s Datana.

Native Habitat

Occurs in floodplains, forests, swamps.

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Photos

Lowbush Blueberry

Lowbush Blueberry

Vaccinium angustifolium

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Dry to moist, Average
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Grow lowbush blueberry in a rock garden or woodland setting. Blueberries are edible and the foliage is attractive and especially vibrant in fall. Thrives in moist, highly organic, well-drained, acidic soil, but can also grow in shady, dry soils that are barren of other plants.

Garden Companions

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia), Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Christmas Fern (Polystichum acrostichoides), Intermediate Fern (Dryopteris intermedia)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the Brown Elfin butterfly.
• Pollen and nectar source for a variety of bees and other insects.
• Offers fruit for mammals and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest understory, upland bogs, pastures.

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Photos

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern

Osmundastrum cinnamomeum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Moist, rich to average
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: Size: 2-4 feet in height; 2-3 foot spread

A vase-shaped clump of green leaves provides height and texture to a woodland garden, pond edge, bog garden, or wetland. The cinnamon-colored fertile fronds grow upright out of the center of the plant. Tolerates some sun if soil kept moist. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Nature Benefits

• Downy wool used by hummingbirds and other birds as nest lining.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forests, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland edges.

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Photos

Ostrich Fern

Ostrich Fern

Matteuccia struthiopteris

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade, part shade
Soils: Moist, rich
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: Size: 2-3 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

Ostrich Fern fronds look like ostrich feathers and provide a striking bright green display as a background planting. The tall size of this fern allows use as a foundation planting on the northern side. With rich moist soils in a shady location, it can form a colony. Fiddleheads are edible. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), Cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), Sensitive Fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for several moth species.
• Fiddleheads offer food for herbivores.

Native Habitat

Occurs in rich woods, swamps, river or lake shores.

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Photos

Evening Primrose

Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Dry, sandy
Bloom Time: Yellow in July, August, September
Size: Size: 2-6 feet in height; 3 foot spread

The lemon-scented large yellow flowers open in the evening and close by noon. Grows vegetatively its first year then flowers its second year but does not persist. Seeds germinate if soil is disturbed. Can become weedy but it is an important native plant with a long and late bloom time supporting many insects. Drought tolerant and good for naturalizing.

Garden Companions

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for the pink Primrose Moth (Schinia florida).
• Attracts wide variety of other moths, birds, hummingbirds and specialized bees.
• Birds eat seeds – especially goldfinches.
• Small mammals eat roots and leaves.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows, fields, floodplains, river or lake shores.

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Photos

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry

Fragaria virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May, June
Size: Size: 2-5 inches in height; 12-24 inch spread

A fast-spreading ground cover which suppresses the establishment of invasive species, Wild Strawberry tolerates foot traffic. Tasty edible fruit appear in early to mid-summer. This species is one of the parent plants to cultivated strawberries.

Garden Companions

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum biflorum), Sessile-leaved Bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Nature Benefits

• Supports 75 species of moths and butterflies.
• Provides food for caterpillars and nectar for adult insects.
• Flowers accessible to short-tongued bees.
• Fruits attract chipmunks, squirrels, and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in meadows and fields.

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Photos

Beach Plum

Beach Plum

Prunus maritima

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May
Size: Size: 3-6 feet in height; 3-6 foot spread

Plant in a sunny, sandy site as a shrub border, wild hedge, foundation planting, or ornamental. Beach Plum provides showy displays of white flowers in spring. Cross pollination is needed to produce the flavorful fruit, which is used to make jams and jellies or feed wildlife. Beach Plum is a rounded, dense, suckering shrub member of the rose family. Drought tolerant. Salt spray tolerant. Does not like to be crowded by other plants. Beach plum is quintessential Cape Cod!

Garden Companions

American Beachgrass (Ammophila breviligulata), Beach Pea (Lathyrus maritimus), Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Evening Primrose (Oenothera perennis), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts butterflies, moths, birds, and bees.
• Fruit feeds wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in sandy openings near the coast, dunes, meadows, fields.

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Rose Mallow

Rose Mallow

Hibiscus moscheutos

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: White to pink with dark centers in July, August, September
Size: 3-6 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

Shrub-like growth, mallow can be planted as a late summer living fence, in a wetland edge, or rain garden. Dramatic large flowers last only one day, but once established a clump of Rose Mallow will flower for weeks. Also called Swamp Mallow.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), Sweet Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa), Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica), New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Nature Benefits

• Rose Mallow bee (Ptilothrix bombiformis) only collects pollen from this and a few other Hibiscus species.
• Attracts hummingbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in borders of saline and brackish marshes wetlands.

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Photos

Royal Fern

Royal Fern

Osmunda regalis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Wet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 24-42 inches in height; 24-36 inch spread

Plant Royal Fern as a visual attraction in a moist to wet woodland or native shade garden. In spring the red fronds unfurl then mature to orange then green. Fertile fronds grow late in the season. Great fall color of gold and brown. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Blue flag (Iris versicolor), White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Common Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Nature Benefits

• Multiple plants provide protective cover for animals and birds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in swamps, shorelines, riparian forests.

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Photos

Woodbine

Woodbine

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Vine
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: May, June, although flowers are inconspicuous
Size: 30 feet in height

Also called Virginia Creeper and American Ivy. The vine has adhesive pads that enable it to climb. It will also crawl as groundcover. It provides exceptional red fall color.

Garden Companions

Best grown on trellis, garden arbors or fences.

Nature Benefits

• Blue or black berries are important fall and winter food for songbirds and game birds.
• Berries are also eaten by small mammals.
• Host plant for the Pandora sphinx moth caterpillar, the Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodland edges, roadsides and open forests.

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Photos

Baptisia

Baptisia

Baptisia australis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Full sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: Blue flowers in May, June
Size: 3-5 feet in height; 2-4 foot spread

In the legume family, also called Wild Blue Indigo and Blue False Indigo. Flowers are pea shaped. Foliage is bluish green. Drought and salt tolerant. Does well in the Cape’s poor soils. Dark seed pods are good for winter interest in the garden used in dried flower bouquets.

Garden Companions

Yellow Baptisia (Baptisia tinctoria), Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Nature Benefits

• Attractive to butterflies, bees, and other insects.
• Is a larval host plant for a variety of butterflies including: Orange Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Frosted Elfin, Eastern Tailed Blue, Hoary Edge, and Wild Indigo Duskywing.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shady upland woods, and wetland edges.

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Photos

Bearberry

Bearberry

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Average to dry moisture
Bloom Time: White to pinkish bell-shaped flowers in April, May
Size: 12 inches tall, spreading to 15 feet

Woody plant that is slow growing but can form large mats in the toughest of places. Technically speaking, it is a sub-shrub and is also called kinnikinick, sandberry, and hog cranberry.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Eastern Woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the fruit.
• Host plant for several butterfly species including Hoary Elfin and Brown Elfin.

Native Habitat

Occurs in roadsides, bog roads, dune edges and woodland edges.

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Arrowwood

Arrowwood

Viburnum dentatum

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in May, June
Size: 6-10 feet in height; 5-10 foot spread

Upright growing shrub that turns shades of yellow, orange, and red in the fall. It can be used for borders, hedges or screens, or as mass plantings and groupings, foundation plantings, or as a backdrop to a pollinator or wildlife garden. Fruits are dark blue. If you must prune, do so immediately after flowering since flower buds form in the summer for the following year.

Garden Companions

Eastern Wood Fern (Dryopteris marginalis), Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina), White Turtlehead (Chelone glabra), Golden Groundsel (Packera aurea)

Nature Benefits

• Attracts Red Admiral, Eastern Comma and Question Mark butterflies
• Host plant providing food for the caterpillar stage of Spring Azure Butterfly and Hummingbird Moth.
• Fruit is food for a variety of songbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, shady upland woods, and wetland edges.

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Inkberry

Inkberry

Ilex glabra

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist to Average
Bloom Time: May, June – flowers called cymes are inconspicuous
Size: 3-8 feet tall, 3-6 foot spread, depending on cultivar

As like other hollies, Inkberry is dioecious: need male pollinator plant to get female fruit set. Berry-like drupes are black and the size of a pea. It’s an upright grower that works well in a hedge and can be pruned. A good native option to boxwood. It is a broadleaf evergreen that is a slow grower.

Garden Companions

Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the juicy fruit
• Provides nectar for pollinators.
• Host plant for Henry’s Elfin.

Native Habitat

Occurs in low wet woods, sandy sites, edges and openings in forests.

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White Oak

White Oak

Quercus alba

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: April, May – pollen is windblown
Size: 60-80 feet in height; 30-40 foot spread

Plant the majestic, long-lived White Oak for shade and stately structure as a backbone in the garden. It prefers full sun. Fall color of purple to wine-red. Oaks are a keystone species in the Cape’s ecosystem because they support more wildlife than any other plant found in our landscape.

Garden Companions

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), Rosebay Rhododenron (Rhododendron maximum)

Nature Benefits

• Supports the caterpillars of over 535 species of butterflies and moths.
• Acorns are food source for birds, deer, squirrels, and other rodents.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woods, dry upland slopes, well-drained loam in bottomlands.

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Sweet Pepperbush

Sweet Pepperbush

Clethra alnifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: White to pinkish flowers in July, August
Size: 4-8 feet in height; 4-6 foot spread

Plant Sweet Pepperbush where you are able to smell the spicy, sweet scent of its profuse late summer blooms. It can be planted in a mixed shrub hedge or border. Tolerates drought well once established.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Eastern Woodfern (Dryopteris marginalis)

Nature Benefits

• Birds and mammals eat the fruit.
• Flowers attract butterflies, bees, hummingbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in seashores, stream banks, wet woods.

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Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Non Flowering
Size: 15-30 feet in height; 3-10 foot spread

Long-lived Eastern Red Cedar can be used for screening with its conical or columnar dense habit. It has peeling red bark, fragrant foliage, and blue fruit on the female plants. Tolerates drought, salt spray, deer, erosion, heat, and cold.

Garden Companions

Inkberry (Ilex glabra), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), White Oak (Quercus alba)

Nature Benefits

• Berries eaten by mammals and many songbirds such as Cedar Waxwing and Bluebirds.
• Favorite nesting site for some birds.
• Dense protective shelter valuable for birds in winter.

Native Habitat

Occurs in woodland edges, meadows, pastures, coastal lowlands.

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American Holly

American Holly

Ilex opaca

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May, June
Size: 12-30 feet in height; 8-14 foot spread

Plant American Holly as an evergreen specimen, massed, or for hedges. Red berries persist through the winter but are only found on female plants when there is a male plant nearby.

Garden Companions

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Mapleleaf Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium)

Nature Benefits

• Berries eaten by many songbirds, gamebirds, and mammals
• Larval host for Henry’s Elfin butterfly

Native Habitat

Occurs in shaded woods, stream and riverbanks, uplands, and lowlands.

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Pitch Pine

Pitch Pine

Pinus rigida

Growing Information

Plant Type: Tree
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: May, June
Size: 30-60 feet in height; 15-25 foot spread

The hardy Pitch Pine is suitable for planting in dry soil that other plants don’t tolerate. It grows rapidly once established in bare, sandy, poor soil. It is resistant to fire, deer, salt, and injury. It sends out shoots from the trunk in response to stress.

Garden Companions

Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis), Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia), White Oak (Quercus alba)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Pine-devil moth.
• Seeds feed squirrels, birds, and other wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in sandy barrens, coastal plains, and part of the pitch pine-oak plant community.

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Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger

Asarum canadense

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Shade
Soils: Dry to moist
Bloom Time: Inconspicuous, burgundy-colored flowers in May, June
Size: 1-2 feet in height, spreads by rhizomes

Also called American Ginger, Asarum canadense differs from the non-native European Ginger in that its foliage is dull and the non-native’s foliage is shiny. Flower are hidden beneath the leaves, almost laying on the ground.

Garden Companions

Cinnamon Fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Nature Benefits

• Seeds have an elaiosome, a sticky residue attractive to ants that help with seed dispersal.
• Flowers have scent of carrion to attract tiny flies who are responsible for pollination of the ginger flowers.
• Serves as an alternate host plant for the caterpillar of the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.

Native Habitat

Occurs in shady deciduous forests.

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Heath Aster

Heath Aster

Symphyotrichum ericoides

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in August, September, October
Size: 1-3 feet in height; up to 1.5 foot spread

Colony forming Heath Aster provides profuse, bloom for a border, rock, wildflower, or native plant garden. Tolerates poor soil and drought. Sometimes sold as Aster ericoides which is likely to be a cultivar or hybrid of other aster species.

Garden Companions

Aromatic Aster (Symphyotrichum oblongifolius), Frost Aster (Symphyotrichum pilosum)

Nature Benefits

• Good plant for a large variety of late season pollinators.
• Host plant for the Banded Woolly Bear caterpillar, the larval form of the Isabella Tiger Moth.

Native Habitat

Occurs along roadsides, sandy, open areas, fields.

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Scrub Oak

Scrub Oak

Quercus ilicifolia

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun
Soils: Dry, average
Bloom Time: Insignificant
Size: 12-20 feet in height

Scrub Oak is also called Bear Oak and is one of the smaller and more gnarled oaks in New England. It recolonizes dry sites that have been repeatedly cut or burned.

Garden Companions

Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica), Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida)

Nature Benefits

• Larval host for Sleepy Duskywing and Eastern Buckmoth.
• Attracts large number of diverse insects in stands of Scrub Oaks.
• Acorns are food source for wildlife.

Native Habitat

Occurs in disturbed areas, woodlands, dry sandy barrens.

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Spicebush

Spicebush

Lindera benzoin

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Wet, average
Bloom Time: Yellow flowers in April, May
Size: 6-12 feet in height; 6-12 foot spread

Plant in naturalized woodland gardens with both male and female plants for showy red berry production. Fast-growing shrub in moist, shady areas. Some sun yields better form and berries. Dazzling yellow foliage in fall.

Garden Companions

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly, Promethea silkmoth
• High wildlife value for songbirds, butterflies, and small mammals.

Native Habitat

Occurs in low deciduous woods, stream banks, swamps.

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Pennsylvania Sedge

Pennsylvania Sedge

Carex pensylvanica

Growing Information

Plant Type: Perennial
Sunlight: Sun to shade
Soils: Average, dry
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Size: 6-12 inches in height; 12-18 inch spread

Plant fine-textured Pennsylvania Sedge as a shade ground cover, border, or underplanting for shade perennials – grows in containers. Drought tolerant. Deer resistant.

Garden Companions

Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum), Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium), Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadense), White Wood Aster (Eurybia divaricata), Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), Huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.)

Nature Benefits

• Forage and habitat for butterfly larvae, birds, and small mammals.
• Used by ducks for nesting material and some cover.

Native Habitat

Occurs in grasslands, woodlands, forests.

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Shadbush

Shadbush

Amelanchier canadensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Acidic moist, well-drained, average
Bloom Time: White flowers in April, May
Size: 10-18 feet in height; 5-10 foot spread

Also called Serviceberry, it is good for height in mixed borders or foundation plantings. Called shadbush because its spring flowers coincide when the herring and shad are running. Good fall color. Drought tolerant. Deer and rabbit resistant. Birds love the fruit.

Garden Companions

Pasture rose (Rosa Carolina), American Hazelnut (Corylus americana), Bayberry (Morella caroliniensis)

Nature Benefits

• Host plant for larvae of tiger swallowtail, viceroy, admiral, and striped hairstreak butterflies
• Fruit feeds at least 40 bird species
• Pollinator powerhouse

Native Habitat

Occurs in forest edges, upland woods, meadows and fields.

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Prairie Dropseed

Prairie Dropseed

Sporobolus heterolepis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Grass
Sunlight: Sun, part shade
Soils: Dry, sandy, average
Bloom Time: Pink and brown tints in June, July, August
Size: 1-3 feet in height; 1-3 foot spread

Plant as a groundcover, border, or accent plant in hot and dry sites. It has ornamental fine- textured bunches with fragrant flowers which become delicate seed heads that appear above the tufts of grass in mid-summer. Slow to establish and mature. A native listed as rare in MA. Not indigenous to Cape Cod.

Garden Companions

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Purple Lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis), Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa), Narrowleaf Mountain Mint (Pycnanthemum tenuifolium), Slender Goldentop (Euthamia caroliniana)

Nature Benefits

• Larval food plant for Leonard’s Skipper, grasshoppers, and leafhoppers.
• Provides nesting materials/structure for native bees and small mammals.
• Seeds eaten by songbirds.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dry prairies, fields, and roadsides.

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Bayberry

Bayberry

Morella caroliniensis

Growing Information

Plant Type: Shrub
Sunlight: Full sun to partial shade
Soils: Moist to dry
Bloom Time: Inconspicuous flowers appear in early spring- May
Size: 5-10 feet in height

Ubiquitous on Cape Cod, it is adapted to the Cape’s poor soils and salt spray. Does well in drought and deluge. The leaves are aromatic when crushed. Bayberry is dioecious, being there are male and female plants, and it is the female plant that bears the berries. Makes a good backdrop to a garden.

Garden Companions

Beach Plum (Prunus maritima), Pitch Pine (Pinus rigida), Scrub Oak (Quercus ilicifolia)

Nature Benefits

• Berries are important food for birds.
• The foliage provides cover for birds.
• It has nitrogen-fixing microbes associated with its roots and therefore improves nutrient value of soils for other plants.

Native Habitat

Occurs in dunes, fields, forest edges, roadsides, coastal banks, beach edges.

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