Friday, August 26, 2011

Native Southern Plants From the Rose Family

The rose family of plants gives us many interesting flowers, trees, and shrubs. These native plants can make for an easier gardening experience with less watering and maintenance than non-native plants. These five selections are all native to the Southern portion of the United States, and are all from the rose family of plants.

Potentilla simplex Michx. (Common Cinquefoil)

A member of the rose family, the common cinquefoil grows under a foot tall with both flowers and leaves coming up on runners. Leaves have five parts to them and the yellow flowers are 5-petaled. Blooms occur during April through June. Cinquefoil prefers shade or partial shade and dry soils.

Sibbaldiopsis tridentata (Ait.) Rydb. (Shrubby Fivefingers)

This spreading carpet like plant only gets to four inches in height and is a member of the Rose family. Its dark green evergreen foliage gets red in the winter. Blooms are 5-petal and white or pink with a bloom season of June to July. Optimum growth occurs in partial shade with a well-drained acidic soil.  You may propagate this by division or by seed that is sown right after collection.

Malus angustifolia (Ait.) Michx. (Southern crapapple, wild crabapple, Malus angustifolia var. angustifolia, Pyrus angustifolia)

This deciduous sun loving tree has fragrant pink flowers. It is a member of the Rose family and its name means “narrow leaves”. This tree will get up to 30 feet tall, prefers sun but will live in partial shade, and has hard green apples as fruits. This will have a high heat tolerance.

Spiraea tomentosa L. (Steeplebush)

Steeplebush is a member of the rose family and is a deciduous shrub that grows three to six feet high. It has pink or rose-purple plumes of flowers from July to September. Foliage will turn yellow in the fall. It prefers any lighting conditions and moist acidic soils. It is a larval host to the Columbia silkmoth butterfly. Propagate by seed or softwood cuttings.

Fragaria virginiana Duchesne (Virginia Strawberry)

From the rose family, the Virginia strawberry grows up to 12 inches and is a low running perennial. Its blooms are 5-petal white flowers with red fruit. It will flower from May to June. It prefers sun or partial shade and dry soils. Propagate by seed or stolon division. Historically it’s been used for its fruit as an old time gout remedy and its leaves are a mild astringent. It is a larval host for the gray hairstreak butterfly and the grizzled skipper butterfly.


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