New Jersey, the Garden State, earned its name from the variety of plants growing naturally in the state. The plants are available commercially for the home gardeners who want to re-create nature in their own garden space. The plants are tough, with few problems, and very adaptable.
Canadian serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) is also known as shadblow serviceberry and Juneberry, and is a member of the rose family. The plant is grown as a large shrub or small tree. Cherry birch (Betula lenta) is also known as sweet birch. The tree develops a round crown as it matures. New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus) is also known as redroot and is a member of the buckthorn family. Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) is also known as sunchoke, and is a member of the aster family.
The white flowers of the Canadian serviceberry bloom in April and May before the leaves appear and are followed by small, red, edible fruits. The plant grows from 6 to 20 feet tall, and features orange to red fall colors.
Cherry birch grows from 50 to 75 feet tall with leaves that turn golden-yellow in the fall. The red, yellow, green and brown flowers grow in hanging clusters and appear in April and May, before the leaves.
New Jersey tea is a deciduous shrub that reaches 3 to 5 feet tall. The plant produces leaves covered in tiny, gray hairs. Small white flowers grow in oval-shaped clusters 2 inches long at the tips of the branches. Flowers bloom in March and April.
Jerusalem artichoke produces red, pink or yellow sunflower-like blooms in August, September and October, with yellow-green leaves, and grows from 6 to 10 feet tall.
Canadian serviceberry grows in the woods. Plant in full sun, partial shade or full shade and a soil that is moist to wet and well-drained. Cherry birch grows in the woods on the north and east slopes of the mountains. Plant in full or partial shade and a dry-to-moist, well-drained soil. New Jersey tea grows in open woods, oak savannahs and prairies. Plant in full or partial shade and a limestone-based soil that is moist to dry. Jerusalem artichoke is found in thickets and borders of woodlands. Plant in full sun and a moist-to-dry soil.
Canadian serviceberry is a food source for birds and animals. The sap of the cherry birch is used to make birch beer soda. Cherry birch is a food source for a variety of wildlife, attracts birds and a nectar source for butterflies. The leaves of the New Jersey tea are used to make tea. Use as a ground cover, on a rocky hillside or in a butterfly garden. The roots of the Jerusalem artichoke are edible. The plant provides food for livestock and deer, birds come for the seeds and small animals use the plant for shelter.
Canadian serviceberry is susceptible to diseases and insect problems. The damage is mostly cosmetic and not life-threatening. Cherry birch, unlike other members of the birch family, is resistant to, but not immune to, the bronze birch borer, but is susceptible to birch canker, scorch and heart rot which can weaken or kill the tree. Jerusalem artichoke is considered an aggressive plant that can take over a garden.