Native plants and trees are utilized for food and cover by various insects and animals and form the basis of any wildlife habitat in the U.S. and throughout the world. When native trees and plants grow close together, they are considered a forest and become a self-sufficient ecosystem.
The dogwood tree (Cornus florida) is one of the most highly desirable trees for attracting wildlife and is native to the moist acidic forests of the eastern United States. The small-growing dogwood tree produces berries that are eaten by a wide variety of birds who then spread them throughout the countryside.
The Southern Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera) grows in moist soil in the southern U.S. and is also drought-tolerant. It is a small tree that grows thick enough to provide shelter for birds and also produces a purple berry that is eaten by a variety of wildlife.
Wild plums (Prunus Americana) are browsed by turkey, deer, bears, wolves and other mammals, as well as birds. There are several different varieties with some growing into small trees, while others grow into shrubs. All types of wild plums produce new plants from the root system and create dense thickets that provide shelter for wildlife.
The native persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a small tree up to 25 feet that reproduces by seed, as well as spreading from the roots, creating dense thickets. It may form a full tree then die completely back to the roots then regrow several times during its lifespan. It has broad green leaves that are consumed by insects and a fruit that is very astringent in the summer and then becomes sweet tasting when exposed to frost in the fall. That is when it falls to the ground and is browsed by deer, coyote, bear, raccoons and most other forest mammals.
There are many varieties of oak trees that are native to the forests of the United States. They produce acorns that are eaten by deer, bear and many other mammals. They grow large enough to provide shelter for birds, as well as mammals. Even when an oak tree dies, it still serves an important function in the forest as its decay creates cavities that provide shelter for wildlife.