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Native Plants of Coastal North Carolina

Courtesy of Kathy Mitchell, N.C. Aquarium-Roanoke Island

Plants are listed as follows: Common Name, Botanical Name, Size and Comments About the Plant


Atlantic White Cedar, Chamaecyparis thyoides, 40-60ft, evergreen, tolerates part shade

Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum40-60ft, deciduous conifer, will grow in shallow water

Black Gum, Nyssa sylvatica, 25-40ft, red fall leaves, fruit for birds

Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus, 10-15ft, fragrant, showy spring flower

Parsley Hawthorne, Crataegus marshalli, 10-15ft, white spring flowers, red fruit clusters, thorny stems protect bird nests

PawPaw, Asimina triloba, 10-15ft, edible fruit, shade-tolerant

Persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, 30-60ft, may be dwarfed in dry sand, orange fruit, orange to purple fall leaves

Red Buckeye, Aesculus pavia, 10-15ft, spring flowers, prefers part shade, may defoliate early in season

Redbay, Persea borbonia, 12-25ft, evergreen small tree or large shrub, some salt tolerance

River Birch, Betula nigra, 25-50ft, fast-growing

Serviceberry, Amelanchier canadensis, 12-20ft, early spring flower, fruits for birds, sun or part shade, some salt tolerance

Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, 20-30ft, fragrant white flowers late spring, excellent fall color

Swamp Willow, Salix caroliniana, 12-30ft, small to medium tree, fast-growing, can be trimmed for smaller size

Sweet Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, 40-60ft, red to purple fall leaves

Sweetbay Magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, 15-30ft, evergreen, fragrant flowers early summer

Witch Hazel, Hamamelis virginiana, 12-25ft, fragrant late winter flowers, yellow fall color


Arrowwood Viburnum, Viburnum dentatum, 6-12ft, spring flowers, fruit for birds, fall color, tolerates part shade

Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, 5-12ft, purple fruit in fall

Coastal Azalea, Rhododendron atlanticum, 2-6ft, fragrant spring flowers, colonizing, shade-tolerant

Coastal Doghobble, Leucothoe axillaris, 3-5ft, evergreen, part shade to shade, colonizing

Crossvine, Bignonia capreolata, to 20 ft., climber, shade or sun, red-orange trumpet flowers, hummingbirds

Dwarf Fothergilla, Fothergilla gardenii, 4-6ft, fragrant spring flowers, fall color

Dwarf Palmetto, Sabal minor, 4-10ft, evergreen, part shade to shade, colonizing in wet soil

Groundsel Bush, Baccharis halimifolia, 8-15ft, salt-tolerant

Highbush Blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum, 4-12ft, fruit, fall color, part shade to sun

Inkberry, Ilex glabra, 6-12ft, evergreen

Possumhaw Holly, Ilex decidua, 6-12ft, fruit for birds

Possumhaw Viburnum, Viburnum nudum, 6-15ft, spring flowers, fruit for birds, fall color, tolerates part shade

Red Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia, 8-15ft, sun to part shade, fruit for birds, fall color

Silky DogwoodCornus amomum, 6-12ft, fruit for birds

Southern Wax Myrtle, Myrica cerifera, 8-15ft, evergreen, fast-growing, salt-tolerant, good wildlife habitat

Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, 6-12ft, part shade to shade

Strawberry Bush, Euonymus americana, 6-12ft, showy fruit, shade tolerance

Sweet Pepperbush, Clethra alnifolia, 5-12ft, sun or shade, summer flowers, some salt tolerance, colonizing

Virginia Sweetspire, Itea virginica, 4-8ft, spring flowers, shade-tolerant, fall color, colonizing

Winged Sumac, Rhus copallina, 4-15ft, fall color, wildlife food, colonizing, tolerates part shade

Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, 6-12ft, showy fruit retained in winter

Wood Vamp, Decumaria barbara, to 20 ft., climber, pt. shade or shade, creamy flower clusters late spring

Yaupon, Ilex vomitoria, 8-15ft, evergreen, salt-tolerant, red fruit in fall & winter


Atamasco Lily, Zephyranthes atamasco, 6”-10”, white spring flowers, dormant in summer, foliage appears in winter

Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, 1-2ft, June to Oct.

Blazing Star, Liatris spp., 1-3ft, Various species, purple-pink spikes, June to Oct, butterflies

Blue Flag Iris, Iris virginica, Iris versicolor, 1-3ft, May-June, blue flowers, spreads in wet soil

Blue Mistflower, Eupatorium coelestinum, 8”-16”, lavender-blue flowers Aug-Oct., may spread aggressively

Boltonia, Boltonia asteroides, 2-5f, white flowers July-Oct.

Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia spp., 2-6ft, species for rain gardens include R. maxima, R. subtomentosa

Cut-leaf Coneflower, Rudbeckia laciniata, 2-6ft, June to Sept., spreads in moist soil

Dotted Horsemint, Monarda punctata, 8”-16”, drought-tolerant, best on upper slopes, deer-resistant

Flat-topped Goldenrod, Euthamia graminifolia, 1-2ft, Aug-Oct, spreads rapidly, butterflies

Goldenrod, Solidago spp., 2-4ft, S. sempervirens (Seaside Goldenrod): salt-tolerant.  Most species

Joe Pye Weed, Eupatorium maculatum, 3-6ft, Large lavender-pink clusters July-Sept., butterflies

Lyre-leaf Sage, Salvia lyrata, 8”-16”, Evergreen foliage rosette, blue flowers in spring

Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum spp., 1-3ft, June-Sept., butterflies, aromatic foliage, spreads vigorously

New England Aster, Aster novae-angliae, 2-5ft, Most native aster species are suitable for rain gardens.  Fall bloom

New York Ironweed, Vernonia novaboracensis, 4-7ft, purple flower clusters late summer & early fall, butterflies

Obedient Plant, Physostegia virginiana, 1-4ft, Lavender-pink or white spikes, June or early fall, may spread aggressively

Pink Coreopsis, Coreopsis rosea, 6”-12”, June-Sept., spreads

Red Star Mallow, Hibiscus coccineus, 4-7ft, June-Aug., 8” red flowers, hummingbirds

Rose Mallow, Hibiscus moscheutos, 3-5ft, June-Aug, 8”-10”white or pink flowers, hummingbirds

Seashore Mallow, Kosteletzkya virginica, 3-5ft, Aug-Sept, pink flowers, salt-tolerant

Sedge, Carex spp., 1-2ft, grass-like groundcovers, part shade to shade

Stokes Aster, Stokesia laevis, 1 ft, May-July lavender-blue flowers, evgn. foliage, butterflies (upper slope)

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, 3-5ft, pink to white flowers, early summer, butterflies

Swamp Sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius, 4-7ft, Oct.-Nov., 2” yellow flowers, birds eat seeds

Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa, 2 ft, June-Aug., hummingbirds & butterflies, deer-resistant


Bitter Panicum, Panicum amarum, 3-4ft, blue-gray foliage, tolerates salt exposure and drought

Bushy Broomsedge, Andropogon glomeratus, 2-3ft, showy plumes retained fall to spring

Indiangrass, Sorghastrum nutans, 3-4ft, golden-brown plumes in fall, excellent food source for wildlife

Little Bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, 1-3ft, very drought tolerant, some salt-tolerance

Purple Muhly, Muhlenbergia capillaris, 2-4ft, feathery purple plumes in fall, salt-tolerant

River Oats, Chasmanthium latifolium, 2-4ft, part shade, showy seed clusters, spreads by seed

Saltmeadow Cordgrass, Spartina patens, 1-3ft, spreads to form mass, fine-textured, salt-tolerant

Sugarcane Plumegrass, Saccharum giganteum, 5-7ft, showy purple-pink plumes in fall

Switchgrass, Panicum virgatum, 2-8ft, many selected varieties available in nurseries, some salt-tolerance


Cinnamon Fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, 2-3ft, part shade to shade

Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis, 2-3ft, part shade to shade

Southern Shield Fern, Thelypteris kunthii, 2-3ft, part shade, tolerates some sun, spreads

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