Virginia Natives!! :D

For starters: what’s a native plant? In order for a plant to be considered “native” to an area, it needs to exist and thrive in the area without human intervention. Seeds can be carried to new areas in the fur of mammals, or by being eaten and then defecated by birds. Once those seeds find themselves in a new area, they still have to be able to propagate and grow on their own without being cared for by humans.

Here are some plants native to Virginia:

The Acer Rubrum, colloquially known as the Red Maple, can be found all over the Mary Washington campus. It is native to Virginia, as well as North America as a whole. The seeds are consumed by small mammals such as squirrels, and the leaves are consumed by various members of the lepidoptera family.

The Cornus Florida, colloquially known as the Flowering Dogwood or more commonly just Dogwood, is Virginia’s state tree!! Flowering Dogwoods grow up to 20 feet tall and there canopies can span 20 to 30 feet. It thrives in Virginia, blooming beautiful sweet-smelling flowers in the spring, burning red leaves in the fall, and growing fruit that lasts to winter. This makes Dogwoods a beautiful tree to behold year round. A few dogwood trees can be found on the Mary Washington campus, but it is difficult to identify whether they are Cornus Floridas or not.

There are many varieties of Magnolia in the world. There are even some very large Magnolias on the Mary Washington campus that have likely been here for decades. But not all of them are native to Virginia. The image above is of an open bud on a Magnolia Virginiana, colloquially named Sweet Bay Magnolia or Swamp Magnolia, and similarly to Dogwoods usually just called Magnolias. It is difficult to tell whether this variety is the one planted on the Mary Washington campus or not. Magnolias grow to be very large, ranging between 10 to 35 feet both tall and wide, and bloom very sweet smelling flowers in the spring.

The Celtis Occidentalis, or Common Hackberry, is a large tree native to Virginia, and North America as a whole. It is a hardwood deciduous tree that goes by many names across the United States of America, including the Nettletree, Sugarberry, Beaverwood, Northern Hackberry, and American Hackberry.

The above image shows the beautiful red and yellow flowers that bloom on Aquilegia Canadensis, common name Wild Columbine, in the mid to late spring. Wild Columbines grow to be one to two feet tall, and attract pollinators such as bumblebees, honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. They also support more than twelve species of Virginia native caterpillars all on their own!!

Rudbeckia Hirta, better know as Black-eyed Susans, have been my favorite since I was a kid. These flowers are persistent and seem to spread exponentially each year, thanks to their many seeds in the center of their bright yellow petals. They can grow to be one to three feet tall, blooming in the early summer months. Pollinators LOVE them, which is why they can be found in one small area on campus dedicated to attracting pollinators. The seeds are easy to collect from the still-standing stalks after these flowers die off, and as mentioned before they spread very easily, making them a great option for planting entire fields of them.