Native Shade Plants

Under the canopies of towering trees and dense foliage grow plant species that thrive in little to no direct sunlight. In their natural environments, shade plants create a serene landscape of bold emerald green colors and vibrant flower blossoms. Having knowledge of an area's native shade plant takes the guesswork out of how well the plants will do in the soil. Preserving natural areas of native shade plants and planting them in designed landscapes plays a vital role in caring for the environment.

Bleeding Heart

Native to western North America, bleeding heart (Dicentra Formosa) is a perennial shade-loving herb of the Fumariaceae family that grows 1 ½ feet tall. It thrives in shaded to partially-shaded areas and dry-to-moist soil. Bleeding hearts grow in the spring and summer seasons and produce pink or purple, heart-shaped, drooping flowers in early summer.

Jack in the Pulpit

Native to the mid and eastern region of North America, Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is a flowering perennial herb of the Araceae family. It grows to 3 feet tall and does well in moist soils of forests and woodlands, in partial sun to shaded areas. Jack in the pulpit produces small yellow flowers that bloom from spring to early summer and is also known as Indian turnip.


A member of the Berberidaceae family, mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is a partial-sun, shade-tolerant flowering perennial herb. Mayapple grows through the eastern hemisphere of North America. The plant grows up to 2 feet tall and produces yellow berries. Its white flowers with yellow centers bloom from spring to early summer. Mayapple does well in moist soil. Its other common name is wild mandrake.

Wild Ginger

Native to the eastern half of North America, excluding Florida, wild ginger is a low-growing, shade-loving perennial. It does well in partial sun to full shade and in moist soil conditions. Wild ginger grows up to 8 inches in height, producing hairy leaves and reddish flowers in the spring. Its leaves and roots---which have a distinctive ginger taste---have been used in traditional Native American preparations for headaches, indigestion, colds and other ailments. Wild ginger belongs to the Aristolochiaceae family and is also known as Canadian wild ginger.

Early Meadow Rue

A shade-loving member of the Ranunculaceae family, early meadow rue (Thalictrum dioicum) is native to the eastern half of North America, excluding Florida. Early meadow rue grows up to 28 inches tall and produces yellow or green flowers that bloom in the springtime. Early meadow rue thrives in full-to-partial shade and dry-to-moist soil.


A low-growing perennial herb that reaches only 6 inches in height, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is a member of the Papaveraceae family. Bloodroot's natural habitat is in forest and woodland areas, making it shade tolerant. Bloodroot produces a striking white blossom on each stalk that bloom during spring. The plant gets its name from the color of its roots.

Keywords: shade-loving, shade-tolerant, full bloom

About this Author

Naima Manal’s articles on health, diet, nutrition, alternative medicine, education, parenting, crafts, travel, home and garden and home improvement have appeared on eHow, Garden Guides, Trails, ConnectED, Helium and others. Manal received her B.S. degree in biology/pre-medical studies from Molloy College in 1994 and has been a freelance writer, teacher and homeschooling mom since 1993.