Nicknamed the Garden State because of its hospitality to farms and orchards, New Jersey contains several distinct ecosystems. From mountains high enough to offer recreational skiing to fresh and salt water borders, New Jersey offers a receptive climate as the most northern of the Mid-Atlantic states. Plants accommodate themselves to forest conditions, wetlands, open farmland, the unique pine barrens, seashore and urban settings. Whether you are a home gardener, small farmer, hiker, birder or nature lover, New Jersey provides excellent resources for identifying plants that will flourish in your chosen setting.
Rutgers provides all the services of USDA cooperative extension, including adult education and species identification. A touchstone for agricultural research in the MId-Atlantic region, even far-flung cooperative extensions will quote or refer to the Rutgers' lists of deer-resistant or other specialized-quality plants. Rutgers Cooperative Extension provides plant identification information through its County Extension offices statewide.
Georgian Court University
This university founded by the Sisters of Mercy is located on the former estate of robber baron Jay Gould and maintains a program through its biology department to study and conserve plants in the pine barrens in central and southern New Jersey, inland from the Atlantic Ocean. The department maintains a photo log of plants and grows some of them in the university arboretum.
New Jersey Native Plant Society
The Native Plant Society of New Jersey maintains extensive lists of native plants, organized by county, by sun and shade requirements, and by environmental setting. Plants include trees and tall shrubs, annual and perennial bloomers, as well as specimens from wetlands and riparian barriers. While the Society website is short on pictures, it is long on information and contacts.
Specialized Identification Lists: Rutgers Agricultural Extension
One of the most comprehensive Rutgers lists, titled "Weeds," is particularly suited to the Garden State listing both local pests and invasive plants.
Specialized Identification Lists: U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service
Among its extensive plant lists, the NRCS has completed a draft database of native New Jersey grasses; the final list should be very useful for replacing native grasses damaged by residential and recreational expansion. The Cape May Plant Materials Center holds trainings to disseminate this information to USDA field workers.