More about:

Native Shrubs for Plantings as Wildlife Food

A list of native shrubs and some small trees to plant for wildlife, primarily for food but also for cover and nesting.

Our native wildlife and plants evolved over thousands of years into a integrated system of food producers and food consumers, each species affecting and affected by the other.

For convenience, we have divided the list into four sections, reflecting basic ecological similarities of each species:

  • Dry Acid Soils
  • Dry Alkaline Soils
  • Wet Acid Soils
  • Wet Alkaline Soils

A small number are not included because their fruits are low in nutritive value (Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia; Maleberry, Lyonia ligustrina) or are poisonous to humans (Poison Ivy, Toxicodendron radicans and T. rydbergii; Poison Sumac, T. vernix)

State listed rare species are not listed here because extensive planting will obscure their natural ranges and, if non-native source material were used, may disrupt their genetic integrity.

Dry Acid Soils

Common Name

Scientific Name

Synonym

Light Preference

Tall Shadbush

Amelanchier arborea

 

Light shade

Smooth Shadbush

Amelanchier laevis

 

Light shade

Running Shadbush

Amelanchier spicata

Amelanchier stolonifera

Sun

Bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi   Sun
Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa   Sun to light shade
Red or Purple Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia   Sun to light shade
Flowering Dogwood Benthamidia florida Cornus florida Light to moderate shade
White Dogwood Swida racemosa Cornus foemina or racemosa Sun
American Hazelnut Corylus americana   Shade to sun
Beaked Hazelnut Corylus cornuta   Shade to sun
Hawthorns (native) Crataegus spp.   Light shade to sun
Black Huckleberry Gaylussacia baccata   Sun to shade
Dangleberry Gaylussacia frondosa   Light to moderate shade
Inkberry Ilex glabra   Sun to light shade
American Holly Ilex opaca   Light to moderate shade
Fly Honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis   Shade
Limber Honeysuckle Lonicera dioica   Light shade
Bayberry Myrica pensylvanica   Sun
Beach Plum Prunus maritima   Sun
Horse Plum Prunus nigra   Sun, light shade
Fire or Pin Cherry Prunus pensylvanica   Sun
Choke Cherry Prunus virginiana var. virginiana   Sun, light shade
Scrub Oak Quercus ilicifolia   Sun
Dwarf Chinkapin Oak Quercus prinoides   Sun
Winged Sumac Rhus copallinum var. latifolia   Sun
Smooth Sumac Rhus glabra   Sun
Pasture Rose Rosa carolina   Sun
Virginia Rose Rosa virginiana   Sun
Allegheny Blackberry Rubus allegheniensis   Sun
Wild Raspberry Rubus idaeus var. strigosus   Sun
Black Raspberry Rubus occidentalis   Sun, light shade
Sawbrier Smilax glauca var. leurophylla   Sun, light shade
Catbrier Smilax rotundifolia   Sun, light shade
American Mountain-ash Sorbus americana   Sun, light shade
Eastern Yew Taxus canadensis   Shade
Low Sweet Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium   Sun
Velvetleaf Blueberry Vaccinium myrtilloides   Light to moderate shade
Deerberry Vaccinium stamineum   Light shade
Woodland Sweet Blueberry Vaccinium pallidum Vaccinium vacillans Light to moderate shade
Maple-leaf Viburnum Viburnum acerifolium   Shade
Wild Raisin Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides   Light shade
Southern Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum var. venosum   Sun to light shade
Summer Grape Vitis aestivalis   Sun, light shade
Fox Grape Vitis labrusca   Sun

Dry Alkaline Soils

Common Name

Scientific Name

Synonym

Light Preference

Tall Shadbush Amelanchier arborea   Light shade
Alternate-leaved or Pagoda Dogwood Cornus alternifolia   Light shade
Gray Dogwood Swida racemosa Cornus foemina or racemosa Sun
Roundleaf Dogwood Swida rugosa Cornus rugosa Light shade, talus slopes
Beaked Hazelnut Corylus cornuta   Shade to sun
Hawthorns (native) Crataegus spp.   Light shade to sun
Fly Honeysuckle Lonicera canadensis   Shade
Limber Honeysuckle Lonicera dioica   Light shade
Virginia Creeper Parthenocissus vitacea   Shade to sun
Shrubby Cinquefoil Dasiphora floribunda Potentilla fruitcosa or Pentaphylloides floribunda Sun
Choke Cherry Prunus virginiana   Light shade

Wet Acid Soils

Common Name Scientific Name Synonym Light Preference

Speckled Alder

Alnus rugosa or incana ssp. rugosa

 

Sun

Common Alder

Alnus serrulata

 

Sun

Thicket Shadbush

Amelanchier canadensis

 

Sun, light shade

Black Chokeberry

Aronia melanocarpa

 

Sun

Red or Purple Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia   Sun
Silky Dogwood Svida amomum Cornus amomum Sun
Dangleberry Gaylussacia frondosa   Shade
Smooth Winterberry Ilex laevigata   Shade
Common Winterberry Ilex verticillata   Sun to light shade
Spicebush Lindera benzoin   Shade
Mountain Fly-Honeysuckle Lonicera villosa   Sun, light shade
Sweet Gale Myrica gale   Shade
Swamp Rose Rosa palustris   Sun to light shade
Virginia Rose Rosa virginiana   Sun
Dewberry Rubus hispidus   Sun to light shade
Dwarf or Running Raspberry Rubus pubescens   Shade
Common Elderberry Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis   Sun to light shade
Red-berried Elder Sambucus racemosa S. racemosa ssp. pubens Light to moderate shade, talus slopes
Sawbrier Smilax glauca   Sun to light shade
Catbrier Smilax rotundifolia   Sun to light shade
Eastern Yew Taxus canadensis var. canadensis   Shade
Black Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium atrococcum Vaccinium fascatum Sun to shade
Smooth Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum   Sun to shade
Cranberry Vaccinium macrocarpon   Sun
Velvetleaf Blueberry Vaccinium myrtilloides   Shade
Maple-leaf Viburnum Viburnum acerifolium   Shade
Hobblebush Viburnum lantanoides V. alnifolium Shade, mesic slopes
Wild Raisin Viburnum cassinoides Viburnum nudum var. cassinoides Light shade
Sweet Viburnum Viburnum lentago   Light shade
Smooth or Northern Arrowwood Viburnum recognitum Viburnum dentatum var. lucidum Sun to shade
Summer Grape Vitis aestivalis   Sin to light shade
Riverbank Grape Vitis riparia   Sun to light shade

Wet Alkaline Soils

Common Name

Scientific Name

Synonym

Light Preference

Red Osier Dogwood Swida sericea Cornus stolonifera or sericea Sun, light shade
Silky Dogwood Swida amomum Cornus amomum Sun, light shade
Common Winterberry Ilex verticillata   Sun to light shade
Spicebush Lindera benzoin   Shade
Mountain Fly-honeysuckle Lonicera villosa   Sun to light shade
Swamp Rose Rosa palustris   Sun to light shade
Dwarf or Running Raspberry Rubus pubescens   Shade
Red-berried Elder Sambucus racemosa Sambucus pubens Light to moderate shade, talus slopes
Highbush Blueberry Vaccinium corymbosum Vaccinium atrococcum Sun to shade
Sweet Viburnum Viburnum lentago   Light shade
Smooth or Northern Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum var. lucidum Viburnum recognitum Sun to shade
Highbush Cranberry Viburnum opulus var. trilobum (NOT V. opulus var. opulus) Viburnum trilobum Light shade, sun
Riverbank Grape Vitis riparia   Sun to light shade

Alien species

Planting alien species of shrubs and trees to enhance wildlife populations is a widespread practice, but unsupported by sufficient valid data to conclude that such non-native plants are superior to native species in nutritive value, etc. Furthermore, many alien species are proving to detrimental to natural ecosystems by outcompeting native species and replacing them, thus reducing the overall species diversity and altering natural patterns of ecological succession. Examples are the buckthorns (Rhamnus frangula and R. cathartica), Multiflora Rose (Rosa multiflora), Oriental Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), and Morrow Honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii). Additionally, the value of alien species with respect to nesting cover they provide, the nutrients they take and give to the soils, and many other details of their ecology remains to be evaluated.

Feedback

Tell us what you think