What Plants Are Native to Northeast Pennsylvania?

Native plant species found throughout Pennsylvania's 14 northeastern counties have adapted over many centuries to its varying highland and lowland geographic and climatic regions. Native plants are vital to the preservation of native habitats and ecosystems. Many of the plant species in northeastern Pennsylvania provide shelter for wildlife and are sometimes food sources for wildlife and humans.

Balsam Fir

Native to Monroe, Pike, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Wayne and Wyoming counties in northeast Pennsylvania, balsam fir (Abies balsamea) is a small perennial, evergreen coniferous tree that is distributed throughout the northeastern region of North America. Balsam fir is a member of the Pinaceae or pine family. Its active growth period is from spring to summer, and it usually grows to about 18 feet tall, even though at mature height it may reach 60 feet. It grows well in moist to moderately-dry soil but is not drought-tolerant, and it thrives in full sun and shaded areas. It is also named Canada balsam, and its botanical name is also Pinus balsamea.


A member of the Acoraceae or sweet flag family, calamus or sweet flag (Acorus calamus) is native to all of the northeast Pennsylvanian counties, the eastern half of North America, excluding Florida, as well as Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington. It is a semi-erect perennial herb that produces rhizomes and grows in full sun and moist soil or wetland areas, providing shelter and food source for waterfowl and wildlife. Calamus actively grows from spring to summer. Its yellow flowers bloom in late spring, and the plant grows to 5 feet tall.

Biennial Bee-blossom

This biennial Onagraceae or evening primrose family member is native to Bradford, Carbon, Luzerne, Montour, Northumberland, Pike, Schuylkill and Wyoming counties in northeast Pennsylvania. A erect forb that grows as tall as 6 feet, biennial beeblossom produces pink or red that bloom in late summer. It prefers sunny locations and dry to moderately moist soils. Its other common name is biennial gaura.

Western Brackenfern

Western brackenfern (Pteridium aquilinum) is found throughout Pennsylvania's northeastern counties and North America. A perennial herb of the Dennstaedtiaceae or bracken fern family, western brackenfern forms colonies in woodlands and open fields. Its active growth season is from spring to summer, and it tolerates moist to moderately-dry soil. Western brackenfern grows less than 7 feet tall. It is also known as bracken, eastern bracken fern and bracken fern.

Keywords: northeastern Pennsylvania, balsam fir, calamus

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.