Native Trees, Shrubs and Perennials 

Bird-friendly Native Plants

Native trees, shrubs and perennials are good for birds, butterflies and other wildlife that contribute to a healthy environment. Native plants are important food sources for birds, not only providing fruit, nuts and seeds, but also serving as host plants for insects and larvae that birds need as sources of protein. And, birds, butterflies, moths, bees and other insects serve as pollinators to regenerate native plants, which maintains those food sources and helps to keep invasive alien plants under control. Native plants also provide shelter for birds and their nests.

Below is a list of a few suggested trees and shrubs that should do well in your North Carolina yard. Click on the scientific name to find out more about each species. Forsyth Audubon plantings at Bethabara and Bethania are noted in the Comments. The last column notes the number of butterfly and moth species hosted.

We think of spring as planting time, but fall is even better. Over winter, plants can build a healthy root base before blooming the coming year. Much thanks to Susan Andrews and Shelley Rutkin for assembling this list. 



Buttonbush by Phil Dickinson




For a more complete list, consult one of these resources:

"Bringing Nature Home" by Douglas Tallamy

"Gardening With Native Plants of the South" by Sally Wasowski

 "Native Plants of the Southeast" by Larry Mellichamp

Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants

LBJ Native Plant Database

For more information, contact Shelley Rutkin. Return to Bird-friendly Yards.

Photo Panel: Native Plants, Gardeners © Kim Brand; Cedar Waxwing © Phil Dickinson.

Common name Scientific name Evergreen/ Deciduous Comments Type

Butterfly/ Moth Species   Hosted

River Birch Betula nigra Deciduous Thrives on moist soil. Useful for erosion control. Tall Tree 411
American Holly Ilex opaca Evergreen Both male & female trees needed for berries. Tall Tree 34
Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana Evergreen Provides nesting material and cover. Male & female plants needed for "berries" (cones) which are are consumed by many kinds of wildlife. Tall Tree 37
Southern Magnolia Magnolia grandiflora Evergreen 'Little Gem' and many other cultivars are available. Tall Tree 21
Sweetbay Magnolia Magnolia virginiana Evergreen Both evergreen & deciduous selections are available. Tall Tree 21
White Oak Quercus alba Deciduous All native oaks are excellent for wildlife. Tall Tree 518
Red Oak Quercus coccinea Deciduous Tall Tree 518
Red Buckeye Aesculus pavia Deciduous Red flowers attract hummingbirds Small Tree/ Shrub 32
Downy serviceberry/ Shadbush Amelanchier arborea Deciduous Native to Forsyth County, but hard to find for sale. Small Tree/ Shrub 119
Serviceberry hybrid/Amelanchier x grandiflora cvs. Amelanchier cultivars Deciduous Bethania/Bethabara. ‘Autumn Brilliance’ cultivar is recommended & available. All Serviceberries good for wildlife, but all subject to rust fungus that alternates with Red Cedar. Small Tree/ Shrub 119
Redbud Cercis canadensis Deciduous Bethania Small Tree/ Shrub 19
Fringe tree Chionanthus virginicus Deciduous Bethania. Female fringetrees fruit if male is nearby. Small Tree/ Shrub 8
Dogwood Cornus florida Deciduous Use only native dogwoods. NOT Kousa Dogwood. Small Tree/ Shrub 115
Witch hazel Hamamelis virginiana Deciduous Bethania. Blooms October - November. Small Tree/ Shrub 62
Yaupon holly Ilex vomitoria Evergreen Both male & female trees needed for berries. Small Tree/ Shrub 34
Florida leucothoe Agarista populifolia Evergreen Can be used for stabilization along moist, shady, stream banks. Native to SC, but not NC. Large, but ‘Leprechaun’ dwarf cultivar also available. Shrub ?
American Beautyberry Callicarpa americana Deciduous Bethania Shrub 1
Sweetshrub/ Carolina Allspice Calycanthus floridus Deciduous Bethania Shrub 2
Buttonbush Cephalanthus occidentalis Deciduous Bethabara. Good in wet soil Shrub 19
Summersweet Clethra alnifolia Deciduous Grows in moist to wet soil. Medium size, but dwarf cultivars available. Shrub 8
Wild Hydrangea Hydrangea arborescens Deciduous Blooms in shade. Shrub 5
Oak-leaf Hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia Deciduous Colorful in fall. Not native to NC, native further south. Can be large, but 'Pee Wee' dwarf selection is available. Shrub 5
Inkberry Ilex glabra Evergreen Likes wet soil. Both male & female needed for black fruits. Several cultivars available. Shrub 34
Winterberry Holly Ilex verticillata Deciduous Females produce red berries when male pollinator is close by. Shrub 34
Virginia sweetspire Itea virginica Deciduous Bethania. Medium size, but dwarf 'Little Henry' selection available. All cultivars like wet soil. Superb fall color. Shrub 34
Doghobble Leucothoe fontanesiana Evergreen Native to Forsyth County. Excellent for edges of streams and ponds. Shrub 3
Spicebush Lindera benzoin Deciduous Bethania/Bethabara. Host for Spicebush Swallowtail. Need males & females for red fruit set. Shrub 9
Piedmont Azalea Rhododendron canescens Deciduous Shrub 50
Pinxter Azalea Rhododendron periclymenoides Deciduous Bethania Shrub 50
Swamp Azalea Rhododendron viscosum Deciduous Shrub 50
Rabbiteye blueberry Vaccinium ashei Deciduous More than one selection needed for good berry set. Superb fall color. Shrub 286
Maple-leaf Viburnum Viburnum acerifolium Deciduous All viburnums on this list are native to Forsyth Co. Shrub 97
Southern Arrowwood Viburnum Viburnum dentatum Deciduous All Viburnums need more than one selection for good fruit set. Shrub 97
Possumhaw Viburnum Viburnum nudum Deciduous Likes wet soil. Shrub 97
Blackhaw viburnum Viburnum prunifolium Deciduous Moist soil, part shade. Shrub 97
Downy arrowwood Viburnum rafinesquianum Deciduous Grows in dry soil, shade to part-shade. Shrub 97
Rusty blackhaw viburnum Viburnum rufidulum Deciduous Dry soil, partial shade. Good fall color. Shrub 97



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