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Native Plants of the Northeast

The Northeast region of the United States—also known as New England—is the natural habitat of a variety of native plant species that beautify its forest and mountain landscapes. Native plants grow and propagate well in their native soils and promote ecosystem sustainability and better air quality for the region. The range of different native plant species of the Northeast includes towering trees, bushes, groundcovers and flowering plants.

Fragrant Sumac

Fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica) belongs to the Anacardiaceae family and grows from 2 to 6 feet tall. Its dark green leaves transition to orange and then to a deep red during the fall before it loses its leaves. Unlike its poisonous relatives, poison sumac and poison ivy, fragrant sumac produces sweet, edible berries that are often used in traditional Native American medicine for stomach aches.


Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), a member of the Myricaceae family, grows 6 to 12 feet in height. It produces green leaves that are hardy to the cooler temperatures of the Northeast region and the cooler seasons. Bayberry produces berry clusters whose outer wax coating is used in candle making. Its leaves, flowers and root bark have uses in traditional Native American medicine for colds and diarrhea. Other names of bayberry include candleberry, myrtle, vegetable tallow and waxberry.


A hardy perennial beauty, echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) belongs to the Asteraceae family and grows in moist or dry areas receiving full sun. Echinacea is used in traditional Native American medicines for immune boosting and for colds, bites and eczema. The roots are harvested for medicinal preparations. Other names of echinacea include purple coneflower, red sunflower and Black Sampson.


A native perennial plant of the Northeast, yarrow (Achilea millefolium) belongs to the same family as echinacea—Asteraceae. Yarrow grows flat, clustered flowers atop tall slender stems, and its leaves look like fern leaves. Yarrow is a low-maintenance, hardy herb that grows up to 3 feet tall. Traditional Native American uses include toothache relief and as a green dye. Some other names of yarrow include old man’s pepper, milfoil and nosebleed plant.


A perennial herb that grows 3 feet in height, catmint (Nepeta mussinii and Nepeta cataria) belongs to the family Lamiaceae, known as the mint family. It is cultivated as a ground cover or as a small bush whose lavender flowers and shape closely resemble lavender. According to Plantalk Colorado, catmint is, “a good companion for daylilies, black-eyed Susans or purple coneflowers.” Catmint is also called catnip.

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