The Nature Conservancy calls Tennessee the most biologically rich of all the inland states. As I walk through my property and neighborhood, I see many exotic plants. Fortunately, I also see an abundance of native plants.
Achillea, Ageratina altissima, Amsonia, Aralia spinosa, Asclepias, Asimina triloba, native Asters, Baptisia, Betula, Callicarpa americana, Carya glabra, Campsis radicans, Cercis canadensis, Chionanthus virginica, Cornus, Coreopsis, Eastern Hemlock, Echinacea, Eryngium, Euonymus americanus, Joe Pye Weed, Gaillardia, Hamamelis virginiana, Hibiscus moscheutos, Hypericum, Ilex opaca, Juglans nigra, Lindera benzoin, Liatris, Liriodendron tulipifera, Lobelia siphilitica, Lonicera, Lupine, Magnolia macrophylla, Monarda, Quercus, Oenothera fruticosa, Oxydendrum arboreum, Penstemon, Phlox, Pinus, Platanus occidentalis, Rhododendron (Azalea), Rhus glabra, Rudbeckia, Sassafras, Sambucus canadensis, Viburnum. Those are a few of the indigenous plants I recognize as I walk through my neighborhood or forage in the woods behind my house.
My area of the country is known as the land of clay and limestone. Despite an abundance of greenery, gardening here isn't always easy, even when conditions are at their best. Vast areas of limestone lie near the surface of the ground. Strata of spectacular limestone outcroppings can be seen where they pierce the earth's surface. Highways often cut through them. The clay soil is slippery when wet and bakes dry to a solid, hard mass that is often impenetrable by much of anything other than mechanical equipment. Yet, it's there that I find beautiful native asters, goldenrods, rudbeckias, yarrows, ironweed, amsonia, baptisias, coreopsis, heliopsis, liatris, and monardas. And frequently there's an abundance of bees and butterflies.
>>Nashville Basin Limestone Savanna slideshow: http://www.apsu.edu/herbarium/...
>>Grasslands, Barrens, Balds & Savannas: http://www.apsu.edu/herbarium/...
From the Appalachians to the flood plains of the Mississippi River, Tennessee’s native plant communities make this one of the most botanically diverse states in the nation. Remnants of prairies, barrens, and cedar glades also contribute to the variety of plant communities that abound here and, in addition, give wildflower enthusiasts a chance to see many plants that are rare or endangered.
Late winter and spring
Tennessee Coneflower - off the Endangered Species List
Eastern Dogwood in autumn
Gazania and friend
Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) in bloom
Zebra Swallowtail - the Tennessee State Butterfly
Black Swallowtail caterpillars in my yard
A friendly Carpenter bee on the deck
Entrance to a Tennessee barrens
(photos belong to the author or are in the public domain)