Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

List of Native Shrubs for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois.

"Corridors for Tomorrow Project" by Kenneth R. Robertson

 

Scientific Name

Common Name

Natural Habitat in Illinois1

Regions of State Where Native 2

Height of Mature Plants3

Flower Sex and Pollinators4

Fruit Type5

Wildlife Attracted6

Special Notes7

Establishment & Problems7

Adaptability & Growth7

Aesculus pavia

red buckeye

rich riverbottom woodlands

S

10' to much higher

perfect; hummingbirds, probably also some bees, other insects

capsule, 1 1/2-3 1/2" in diameter, with 1-2 large brown seeds

low value; seeds poisonous to humans

spectacular red flowers; forms clumps

difficult to transplant, B & B in spring; some leaf splotch and mildew, rarely serious

best in moist, well-drained soil; intolerant of soil compaction; slow to medium growth rate

Alnus serrulata

smooth, common, or hazel alder

rocky streams

c, S

10'+

monoecious; wind

tiny winged nutlets produced within woody cone-like structures, 3/8-5/8" long

songbirds, small mammals; intermediate value

yellow-brown catkins in early spring; suckers to form colonies; nitrogen fixing

transplants easily, BR or B & B; few problems

does well in poor, dry, compacted soil; fast growing

Amelanchier humilis

low shadbush

rocky, sandy soil

N, C

6'

perfect; insects, probably similar to A. arborea (tree list)

fleshy pomes, pink turning purple black, 1/4" in diameter

 

songbirds, small & game mammals; high value in early summer

 

beautiful flowers and form; suckers to form colonies

transplants easily, B & B; several rusts, fire blight, minor insect pests

not suited to very dry, compacted soil; medium growth rate

Amelanchier laevis

shadbush

wooded slopes; borders of dry to moist woods

N, C

6'

perfect; insects, probably similar to A. arborea (tree list)

fleshy, pink turning black pomes, 3/8" in diameter

songbirds, small & game mammals; high value in early summer

beautiful flowers and form; leaves bronze-colored as they unfold

transplants easily B & B; several rusts, fire blight, minor insect pests

not suited to very dry, compacted soil; medium to fast growing

Amorpha canescens

lead plant

prairies; rocky wooded bluffs

N, C, S

3'

perfect; long-tongued bees (10), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (16) Diptera (4)

small hairy pods, 3/8" long

songbirds, upland gamebirds, small mammals; intermediate value

nitrogen fixing; small purple flowers with yellow anthers

transplants easily, spreads easily by seed; few problems

does extremely well on poor, dry soils; pH adaptable; medium growth rate

Amorpha fruticosa

false indigo, indigobush

streambanks; moist soil

N, C, S

6-12'

perfect; long-tongued bees (3), short-tongued bees (6)

small pods, 1/3-1/2" long, with resinous dots

marshbirds, shorebirds, small mammals; intermediate value

nitrogen fixing; small purple flowers with orange anthers

transplants easily; spreads easily by seed; a rust can defoliate plants, other minor problems

does well on poor, dry soils; pH adaptable; medium growth rate

Aronia melanocarpa

black chokeberry

bogs; moist woods; dry sandstone ledges

N, C, S

3-5'

perfect; insects, especially bees

fleshy purplish black pomes, 3/8" in diameter

songbirds, upland game birds, small mammals; high value in early fall

white flowers; early fall fruit; red fall color; suckers profusely

transplants easily; several rusts, fire blight, minor insect pests, rarely serious

very adaptable to both wet and dry soils; slow growing

Ceanothus americanus

New Jersey tea

prairies; rocky wooded bluffs

N, C, S

3-4'

perfect; long-tongued bees (6), short-tongued bees (18), other Hymenoptera (35), Diptera (42), Lepidoptera (2), Coleoptera (14), Hemiptera (4)

black, 3-lobed, +/- dry drupes, 1/5" wide, splitting into 3 nutlets

small mammals, upland game birds, songbirds; intermediate value

prolific white flowers; compact rounded shrub; fixes nitrogen; attracts many insects

somewhat difficult to transplant; minor problems, such as leaf spot and powdery mildew

extremely adaptable; does well in dry soil; slow to medium growth rate

Cephalanthus occidentalis

common buttonbush

wet ground; margins of swamps, ponds, and marshes; backwaters of rivers

N, C, S

3-6'+

perfect; long-tongued bees (25), short-tongued bees (6), other Hymenoptera (4), Diptera (10), Lepidoptera (29)

round cluster of small capsules, 1" in diameter

marshbirds, shorebirds; low value

round clusters of white flowers; attracts bees and butterflies

transplants easily, BR or B & B; no serious problems

best suited to wet areas; medium growth rate

Cornus drummondii

rough-leaved dogwood

rocky woods; prairies; bluffs; low wet ground; sandy or clay soils

N, C, S

10'+

perfect; insects, probably similar to C. obliqua

white drupes, 1/4" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals; high value

white flowers; white drupes; can invade adjacent areas

transplants easily, BR or B & B; scale insects, borers, cankers, leaf blights, root rot, none usually serious

adaptable from dry to wet areas; fast growing

Cornus obliqua

silky or pale dogwood

swamps; low woods; edges of streams and ponds; wet prairies

N, C, S

10'+

perfect; long-tongued bees (9), short-tongued bees (23), other Hymenoptera (15), Diptera (31), Lepidoptera (16), Coleoptera (2)

blue drupes, 1/4" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals; high value

showy white flowers attract many insects

see C. drummondiiabove

wet to moist soils, but adaptable to dry conditions; medium to fast growing

Cornus racemosa

gray dogwood

prairies; rocky outcrops; dry to moist woods; margins of lakes and streams; roadsides

N, C, S

10-15'

perfect; insects, probably similar to C. obliqua

white drupes, 1/4" in diameter, on red pedicels

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals; high value

showy white flowers attract many insects; suckers to form colonies; can invade adjacent areas

see C. drummondiiabove

very adaptable to dry or moist conditions; fast growing

Cornus stolonifera

(C. sericea)

 

red-osier dogwood

marshes; fens; margins of streams; sandy soil

N, C, S

10'+

perfect; insects, probably similar to C. obliqua

white drupes, 1/4" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals; high value

showy white flowers attract many insects; ornamental red stems in winter; many underground stolons help hold soil on banks

see C. drummondiiabove; sometimes slow to reestablish

best in moist soils, but very adaptable; fast growing

Corylus americana

American hazel, hazelnut, or filbert

thickets; dry woods; unburned prairies; old fields; sandy, gravelly or rocky soils

N, C, S

8-10'+

monoecious; wind

small nuts, 1/2" in diameter, enclosed by green bracts

small mammals, upland game birds; high value

yellow-brown catkins in early spring on bare branches; suckers from roots

transplants well B & B; several minor insect pests and diseases, rarely cause problems

pH adaptable; adaptable to moist to dry soils; may be sensitive to salt; medium to fast growing

Diervilla lonicera

bush or dwarf bush honeysuckle

sandy or rocky woods; thickets; cliffs

N, C

3'

perfect; insects, mostly Lepidoptera

capsules, 1/2" long

little value

forms thickets, holds soil on banks; funnel-shaped yellow flowers; reddish fall color

transplants easily, BR or B & B; generally pest free

adaptable to dry, compacted soils; tolerates high pH soils and windy conditions; fast growing

Hamamelis virginiana

see "Trees" table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hydrangea arborescens

wild or smooth hydrangea

woods; moist shaded ravines

C, S

3-5'

perfect; long-tongued bees (1), short-tongued bees (8), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (14), Lepidoptera (2), Coleoptera (5)

capsules 1/8" long, in umbrella-like clusters

little value

large white flower clusters attract many insects; suckers and spreads

transplants easily; dies back to ground after severe winters; several potential insect, bacteria, fungal problems, rarely serious

very adaptable but best in moist soil if grown in full sun; not very drought tolerant; fast growing

Hypericum prolificum

shrubby St. John's-wort

rocky stream banks; lake margins; rocky thickets; sandy areas; pastures

N, C, S

1-3'+

perfect; insects, mostly bees

capsules, 3/8-5/8" long

songbirds, upland gamebirds, small mammals; little value

bright yellow flowers attract bees

easily transplanted from containers; generally pest free, occasional leaf spot or powdery mildew

grows well in calcarious, heavy, dry soils; tolerates drought; slow growing

Ilex verticillata

common winterberry, black alder

swamps; along streams; wooded slopes and bluffs

N, C, S

6-10'+

dioecious; insects, especially bees

fleshy, bright red drupes, 1/4" in diameter; male plants needed for fruit production

upland gamebirds, songbirds; high value in winter

a deciduous holly; showy red fruit

transplant B & B or container; chlorosis in high pH soils; no serious problems

best for moist to wet, acid soils; slow growing

Lindera benzoin

spicebush

rich, moist woodlands; along streams

N, C, S

6-12'

dioecious; insects

fleshy, bright red drupes, 3/8" long, oval

songbirds, upland game birds; high value

flowers early in spring; excellent yellow fall color; showy red fruits

difficult to transplant, slow to reestablish; few diseases or pests

best in moist soils, tolerates dry conditions; pH adaptable; slow growing

Physocarpus opulifolius

common or eastern ninebark

rocky slopes and banks; moist swales; gravel bars; limestone cliffs

N, C, S

5-10'

perfect; various insects, especially Diptera

follicles, 1/4" long in clusters of 3-5, with hard, shiny, tan seeds

upland game birds, small mammals; intermediate value

white flowers in spring attract insects; exfoliating bark

transplants easily, BR or B & B; few diseases or pests

extremely adaptable to different light, pH, and moisture conditions; fast growing

Potentilla fruticosa

shrubby or bush cinquefoil

interdunal ponds; fens; gravel prairies; limestone cliffs

N, C, s

2-4'

perfect; various insects, especially Hymenoptera and Diptera

tiny achenes in a dry hard head

songbirds, small mammals; low value

bright yellow flowers; widely sold, but usually not of Illinois genotype

transplants easily; generally pest free

likes alkaline conditions; adaptable to wet or dry soils; good in compacted soil; slow growing

Prunus americana

wild or American plum

thickets; woodlands; fence rows; roadsides

N, C, S

20'+

perfect; long-tongued bees (14), short-tongued bees (26), other Hymenoptera (3), Diptera (23), Lepidoptera (7), Coleoptera (3)

fleshy red to yellow drupes, 1-1 1/4" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game mammals; high value

white flowers; suckers prolifically to form colonies; one of several native plums to consider planting

transplants easily, BR or B & B; many potential problems, rarely serious

tolerant of poor soils; thrives with neglect; medium to fast growing

Prunus virginiana

see "Trees" table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ptelea trifoliata

see "Trees" table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rhus aromatica

fragrant sumac

woods; bluffs; dunes; hill prairies

N, C, S

2-6'+

polygamous; bees, other Hymenoptera

+/- fleshy drupes, bright red, 1/4" in diameter, covered with short hairs

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game & small mammals; high value in winter

red fruits; glossy foliage; red, orange or purple fall color; suckers prolifically

transplants easily, BR or B & B; no serious problems

very adaptable to poor, dry soils; slow to medium growth rate

Rhus copallina

shining or winged sumac

dry hills; fields

N, C, S

10-30'

polygamous, often dioecious; long-tongued bees (8), short-tongued bees (15), other Hymenoptera (29), Diptera (22)

fleshy drupes, bright red, 1/4" in diameter, covered with short hairs, produced in large upright clusters

more preferred than R. glabrabelow, eaten when available

glossy green summer foliage; red fall color; showy fruits persist through winter

transplants easily, BR or B & B; no serious problems

very adaptable to dry soils and poor conditions; fast growing

Rhus glabra

smooth sumac

woods; fields; roadsides; hill prairies; sandy soil

N, C, S

10'+

polygamous; long-tongued bees (1), short-tongued bees (10), other Hymenoptera (3), Diptera (4)

+/- fleshy drupes, 1/4" in diameter, bright red, covered with short-sticky hairs, produced in large upright clusters

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game & small mammals; high value in winter as emergency food

red fall color; showy fruits persist through winter; suckers to form open colonies

transplants easily, BR or B & B; no serious probems

very adaptable to dry soils; tough; fast growing

Rhus typhina

staghorn sumac

woods; gravel ridges

N, C, S

10'+

polygamous, often dioecious; bees, other Hymenoptera

+/- fleshy drupes, bright red, 1/4" in diameter, densely long-hairy, produced in large upright clusters

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game & small mammals; high value in winter

red fall color; showy fruits persist through winter; spreads through suckering

transplants easily, BR or B & B; fungus cankers and twig dieback, borers

very adaptable to dry soils; tough; tolerates pollution; pH adaptable; fast growing

Salix humilis

prairie willow

prairies; open woods; rocky slopes

N, C, S

4-12'

dioecious; long-tongued bees (2), short-tongued bees (12), Diptera (12), Coleoptera (1)

capsules, 1/4-3/8" long, releasing many plumed seeds

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game mammals; high value in early spring

early flowers attract native bees; one of several native willows to consider planting

transplants easily, BR; many bacterial, fungal diseases, insect pests

adaptable to wet or dry soils; medium growth rate

Sambucus canadensis

common or American elder or elderberry

open woods; thickets; along streams; roadsides

N, C, S

5-12'

perfect; long-tongued bees (2), short-tongued bees (6), Diptera (190), Coleoptera (5)

fleshy purple-black berries, 1/4" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, small mammals; high value

cream-white flowers; black fruits; suckers profusely to form thickets

transplants easily BR or B & B; borers, cankers, leaf spots, powdery mildew, generally not serious

best in moist soil, but adaptable to dry soil; fast growing

Spiraea alba

narrow-leaved meadowsweet

wet prairies; open habitats with wet soil

N, C, S

3-6'

perfect; various insects, especially Diptera and Hymenoptera

follicles, 1/8" long, in clusters of 5, with many tiny seeds

upland game birds; low value

white flowers; suckers to form colonies

transplants easily; fire blight, many potential problems, generally not serious

best in moist soil, but adaptable to dry soil; pH adaptable; fast growing

Spiraea tomentosa

hardhack, steeplebush

bogs; moist thickets; wet sandy swales

N, C

3-6'

perfect; various insects, especially Diptera and Hymenoptera

follicles, 1/8" long, with many tiny seeds

songbirds, upland game birds; waterfowl; low value

pink to rose-purple flowers; suckers

transplants easily; fire blight, many potential problems, generally not serious

best suited to moist, acid soils; fast growing

Staphylea trifolia

American bladdernut

moist woods; wooded bluffs; along streams; thickets

N, C, S

10-15'

perfect; long-tongued bees (94), short-tongued bees (9), other Hymenoptera (1), Diptera (4), Lepidoptera (4), Coleoptera (2), Hemiptera (1)

inflated papery pods, 1-1 1/2" long, with several hard seeds

low value

attractive shrub; showy fruits; suckers

transplants easily; twig blight and leaf spot, rarely serious

best in moist, well-drained soil; pH adaptable; medium to fast growing

Symphoricarpos occidentalis

wolfberry, western snowberry

dry open ground; sandy soil; prairies; old fields

N, C

3-4'

perfect; insects, probably similar to S. orbiculatus

fleshy drupes, 1/2" in diameter, dull white becoming blackish, persistent

upland gamebirds, songbirds; small mammals; high value

pinkish flowers; suckers vigorously to form colonies

transplants easily; anthracnose, leaf spot

does well in dry soil; pH adaptable; fast growing

Symphoricarpos orbiculatus

coralberry; buckbrush, Indian current

woods; pastures; hill prairies; rocky bluffs; old field

N, C, S

2-5'

perfect; long-tongued bees (10), short-tongued bees (27), other Hymenoptera (43), Diptera (37), Lepidoptera (1), Coleoptera (1)

+/- fleshy drupes, 1/4" in diameter, purple-red, persistent

upland gamebirds, songbirds, high value in winter

pinkish flowers; suckers, forming thickets

transplants easily; anthracnose, leaf spot

does well in dry soil; pH adaptable; fast growing

Taxus canadensis

Canada yew

rocky outcrops; wooded hillsides

N

6'+

dioecious; wind

fleshy, translucent red berry-like cones, 3/8" in diameter, with one hard seed

songbirds, upland game birds; moderate value

one of only a few native evergreens; forms an attractive broad mound

difficult to transplant, B & B; no serious problems

needs shade, moist soil; intolerant of heat & drought; slow growing

Viburnum acerifolium

maple-leaved arrowwood

moist woods; rocky woods; wooded slopes

N, C

4-6'

perfect; probably many Hymenoptera and Diptera

fleshy blue-black drupes, 1/3" in diameter

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game & small mammals; high value

cream-white flowers; suckers to form large colonies; fall color ranges from rose to red and purple

transplants easily, B & B or container; seldom bothered by pests

best in moist shady places but adaptable to full sun; pH adaptable; slow to medium growth rate

Viburnum lentago

see "Trees" table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Viburnum rafinesquianum

downy arrowwood

wooded slopes; rocky woods and bluffs; rocky stream beds

N, C, s

3-6'

perfect; probably many Hymenoptera and Diptera

fleshy blue-black drupes, 3/8" in diameter, oval

upland gamebirds, songbirds, game & small mammals; high value

white flowers; suckers to form thickets

transplants easily, B & B or container; seldom bothered by pests

very adaptable from moist to dry soils and shade to full sun; medium growth rate

Zanthoxylum americanum

prickly-ash

open, rocky woods; limestone cliffs; thickets

N, C, S

10-25'

dioecious; short-tongued bees (24), long-tongued bees (12), other Hymenoptera (3), Diptera (18), Coleoptera (1), Lepidoptera (1)

reddish, aromatic capsule, 3/16" long, with one large black seed

songbirds, upland ground birds, small mammals; high value

suckers prolifically; many prickles on stems

transplants easily, B & B or BR; trouble free

does well in poor, dry soils; stems very prickly, use with caution where people are present; fast growing

Click here for published references consulted for this project.

  1. Information on natural habitat based primarily on: Fernald (1950); Mohlenbrock (1986); Tehon (1942).
  2. Information on region based primarily on: Mohlenbrock & Ladd (1978); Mohlenbrock (1986); "n" = north of Interstate 80; "c" = central, between Interstate 80 and Interstate 64; "s" = south of Interstate 64; a capital letter indicates that the species is native to that region while a lower case letter indicates that the species can be cultivated in the region although it is not native there.
  3. Information on height based primarily on: Dirr (1990); Hightshoe (1988); Morrisey & Giles (1990).
  4. Information on pollination mostly from Robertson (1929). Perfect flowers = flowers have both male & female parts; monoecious = separate male and female flowers on the same plant; dioecious = separate male and female flowers on different plants; polygamous = a mix of perfect and/or male and female flowers on the same plant. The numbers in parentheses refer to the number of species reported visiting this species by Robertson (1929)
  5. Information on fruit primarily based on: Dirr (1990); Elias (1989); Fernald (1950); Little (1980); Rehder (1940); +/- means "more or less."
  6. Information on wildlife primarily based on: DeGraaf & Witman (1979); Ehrlich et al. (1988); Elias (1989); Gill & Healy (1974); Hightshoe (1988); Martin et al. (1951).
  7. Information on Special, Establishment, and Adaptability & Growth Rate based primarily on: Dirr (1990); Flint (1983); Hightshoe (1988); Morrisey & Giles (1990); Walker & Giles (1985). B & B = balled & burlapped; BR = bare root. NOTE: The information on disease and insect pests can be viewed two different ways. In traditional landscape approaches, such problems are considered deleterious and attempts are made to use species with few diseases and pests and to control them with pesticides. However, in the context of Corridors for Tomorrow, native pathogenic organisms are part of the original biodiversity of Illinois, and hence their continued presence in the state is encouraged.


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