The Peach Tree State is certainly known for its fruit, but there are plenty of other native trees, not to mention shrubs, wildflowers, herbs and the like that lend Georgia its particular ambiance and beauty. These species are, in turn, what attract wildlife and humanity to this mountainous southern state bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. Hiking the Appalachian Trail or sauntering through Savannah just wouldn't be the same without them.
One of the more unique Georgian natives, Jack-in-the Pulpit thrives in the humid south. The wildflower grows up to 3 feet tall and features a striped, hood-like leaf that curves over the "pulpit," or cylinder. Tiny flowers bloom in spring and tightly clustered berries form. A spear, or corm, grows from the ground and is filled with a chemical that keeps mammals at bay. Jack-in-the-Pulpits grow best in partial shade and well-drained, fertile soil.
Sporting a cone of small, star-shaped white flowers, this plant grows up to 4 feet high in places such as meadows and bogs. Flowers are some of the first to emerge in the spring and turn green as they age. This perennial, primarily its bulb, is toxic. Lore has it that settlers would mix the plant with sugar to kill flies, but its name is a literal translation of its Latin name. It grows in sun and partial shade, and in all kinds of soil.
The cardinal flower grows up to 3 feet tall but is a short-lived perennial. Scarlet flowers, which are pollinated by hummingbirds, bloom in mid-summer. Butterflies are attracted to them. In winter, its elliptical leaves lie flat on the ground. It likes partly sunny, moist spots along creeks and lakes. Rich soil is favored but not necessary.
Downy Lobelia can grow as tall as cardinal flower, but it blooms in late summer to early fall. Flowers range from purple to white and are clustered on the tops of stems. It can grow in moist areas such as swamps and dryer places such as meadows and open woods. Sun to partial shade is preferred, but it grows in all kinds of soil.
Light pink flowers that are saucer-shaped and about 1 inch in diameter adorn wild geraniums in late spring. Blooms attract many bee species. It can grow up to 2 feet tall, usually in rounded mounds, and is mostly found in sunny or partially shaded spots in woods and in virtually any soil. This plant also is called cranesbill.
Joe Pie Weed
Joe Pie Weed is a shrub-like plant that can grow up to 10 feet tall. It blooms from July through October in Georgia. Honey-scented lavender flowers form a dome, with each head containing five to seven flowers. This native is particularly favored because it attracts butterflies. It grows wild along roadsides and wet ditches, but prefers sunny locations and fertile soil.