Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden by Larry MellichampNative Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden by Larry Mellichamp

Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden

byLarry MellichampPhotographed byWill Stuart

Hardcover | January 28, 2014

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Using native plants in a garden has many benefits. They attract beneficial wildlife and insects, they allow a gardener to create a garden that reflects the native beauty of the region, and they make a garden more sustainable. Because of all this, they are an increasingly popular plant choice for home and public gardens.

Native Plants of the Southeast shows you how to choose the best native plants and how to use them in the garden. This complete guide is an invaluable resource, with plant profiles for over 460 species of trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, grasses, and wildflowers. Each plant description includes information about cultivation and propagation, ranges, and hardiness. Comprehensive lists recommend particular plants for difficult situations, as well as plants for attracting butterflies, hummingbirds, and other wildlife.

Larry Mellichamp teaches botany at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and was director of the University’s botanical gardens. He has appeared regularly in various media and received several teaching awards including the B. W. Wells Award from the North Carolina Native Plant Society and the Tom Dodd Jr. Award of Excellence.Wi...
Title:Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the GardenFormat:HardcoverDimensions:368 pages, 10.88 × 8.38 × 1.13 inPublished:January 28, 2014Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604693231

ISBN - 13:9781604693232


Read from the Book

Preface How did I come to write a book about gardening with native plants in the Southeast? When I was about ten years old something happened that changed my life, but I did not know it at the time, only in retrospect. One summer day my Great Aunt Annie let me pick a flower from a special patch in her garden that she said was just for me. What a shock, what a thrill. I did not really know what it meant. I remember picking the flower; I even remember what it was—a “wild” petunia, according to my aunt. You don’t realize what had just happened. My aunt had a meticulous garden: a garden so well laid out in beds, so precisely managed through the year, so off-limits that no child (rarely an adult) would have a measurable half-life of time exploring the beds, so critical that only she could weed and water, so spotless that the bees didn’t dare land on a petal for fear of leaving a foot print. No one could step off the path, touch anything, much less pick a flower. My heavens! I did not even know back then that flowers could be picked. My aunt had said that it was time I got to pick a flower. Why did she let me do it? I don’t know. Perhaps it was like a special coming-of-age ritual, an early taste of an initiation into the inner sanctum of adulthood. She knew that I liked coming to her house, but the best I could do was help mow the lawn and water the ancient mistletoe cactus on the porch (which I still grow a piece of). Did she have a scheme, did she set a trap, and did she know what would happen? My aunt taught fourth grade in a small South Carolina town her whole career. I guess she knew kids. She let me pick that flower so I would become a botanist someday. That was it. I know it. (If not, it’s a good explanation anyway.) And the trick worked, though it took another decade for the plan to be fulfilled. This story, I think, points to a problem. City folks then, as now, did not have a personal relationship with plants and flowers, especially wildflowers and native plants. People hardly even noticed them, much less thought that there was any reason to do anything with them. And, if a plant was thought special, most folks still did not know how to get to know it personally. My parents, for example, never knew a thing about a wild plant or the secrets of nature. They planted multiflora rose as a living screen because they saw an ad in a magazine, and they lined up privet as a hedge on our property line. They did not know anything important existed beyond the weedy buffer zone that separated the mowed lawn from the wilderness harboring snakes and poison ivy. I did not know any better than they did at that young age, though as a Boy Scout I was able to get out into the woods and get my first glimpse of the secrets of nature. Back then, native animals had wild places to live and did not venture into yards to browse. Homeowners rarely saw a deer, and if they did, it was a kick. Canadian geese were rare birds in the Carolinas, and it was a marvel to see them at a local wildlife refuge. Such encounters were the limited connections most city folk had with the natural world. Life has changed greatly since that time. Knowledge, if not experience, is more accessible because of television and the Internet. More people are simply aware of nature, the plights and pleasures of the wild kingdom. There is more told about animals to be sure, but plants get their time to shine—as well. From the vantage point of my own little narrow view of the world, I think the new era started with Rachael Carson and her book Silent Spring, followed by Earth Day in 1970. Soon came the Endangered Species Act (1973), an increase in books about wildflowers and birds, more-frequent gardening shows on television, and the rise to prominence of botanical gardens and nature centers. Before long people were talking about global warming and climate change. Little by little, awareness increased regarding the importance of the environment and the role of other organisms that share the planet. Perhaps the NASA space program helped stimulate our interest in the blue planet as described from space, that it is finite and we need to take better care of it. When I picked that flower in my aunt’s garden, the structure of DNA was hardly known, the details about the web of life were not common knowledge, and I had been taught very little about nature lore. Picking that flower did not come too soon to prepare me for the events to come. I went on to graduate school at the University of Michigan (finishing in 1976) and became a botanist. I loved teaching, was very fortunate to become indoctrinated into the realm of field botany, and soon discovered it was to become my passion. No one talked too much about growing native plants at that time. However, I met Fred Case in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1971. He studied native plants and was an avid wildflower grower, and he opened the world of native plant cultivation to me. In 1983, the first conference on landscaping with native plants was held in Cullowhee, North Carolina, and this was the beginning of a completely new chapter in the popular movement for everyday people to become more knowledgeable about the role of nature in their lives. The dogma was to plant more natives and try to break the long-time practice of the overuse of (invasive) exotic plants in home and roadside landscapes. Those early founders of what came to be known as the Cullowhee Conference were certainly visionaries, and I thank them every day for what they started. Gardening became for me a useful distraction from the daily grind, as well as a creative and challenging endeavor to see what I could acquire and grow. I was fortunate to see two amazing Southeastern wildflower gardens, which lead to my early realization that this was an interesting preoccupation. One was at the mountain home of Tom and Bruce Shinn in Leicester, North Carolina, and the other was the renowned native garden of Emily Allen in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The encouragement of these gardens and gardeners was profound in my life. No one influenced me more in understanding the role of plants in the lives of people than Ritchie Bell, botanist, environmental activist, and first director of the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. Likewise, Ken Moore, who was assistant director at that time, constantly harped on the importance of using native plants. Jim Matthews, my undergraduate mentor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, took me out on countless field trips to collect scientific specimens and study plants all across the region. What a thrill. These trips provided a solid foundation in the principles of plant identification. When I returned to UNC Charlotte as director of the modest botanical gardens begun in 1966 by my other influential professor, Herbert Hechenbleikner, I realized that I had to devote a portion of the Gardens’ effort and resources to growing and promoting native plants. Much of the advice I present here is based on intimate involvement with propagating and growing many of the species in the University’s seven-acre native plant garden, The Van Landingham Glen. One of the greatest successes of UNC Charlotte Botanical Gardens has been holding annual plant sales that specialize in providing hard-to-find locally grown native wildflowers, ferns, shrubs, and trees. Out of this experience and in response to a rising interest from local gardeners, the Gardens began offering a series of courses leading to a certificate in Native Plant Studies. The response has been encouraging, and today the University is embarking on the development a new garden, one of the first ever at a public garden to demonstrate specifically the use of natives in the home landscape. By creating a relatable, interesting, and attractive garden that exclusively utilizes native plants, we hope to bridge a mental and physical gap between home landscapes and the natural landscapes that we have forgotten we are a part of. We hope the new garden will become a display that inspires and stimulates gardeners with a new awareness of the region’s native plants. This, then, is a brief version of how I came to write a book about native plants of the Southeast. From the beginning of this project, one of my goals was to complement the species accounts with photographs that capture that splendor. To this end, I enlisted a friend and colleague, Will Stuart, to provide images for this book. Will travelled to the far corners of the Southeast in search of beauty and has brought much of it back for you to see. I am proud that he was willing to become a part of this extensive book project, and I am thrilled that he captured so many birds and insects utilizing the plants. Will’s photographic journey began in the 1970s while he was teaching biology in upstate New York. To illustrate the richness and diversity of a mature maple-beech forest, he sought to capture the beauty of emerging spring ephemerals on 35-mm slides, which he shared with his students. Forty years later, the woodlot where he captured many of his early images is now another suburban housing tract. Will relocated to North Carolina in 1997 and subsequently traveled to scores of natural areas and gardens throughout the Southeast, always looking for another native plant species to add to his life list. He went digital in 2004 and his first purchase was a Canon macro lens. Many of his photographs allow you an up-close, “bug’s eye” view of a leaf, berry, or blossom. In recent years, his interests have expanded to include the birds and butterflies that depend upon the health of native plant communities. According to Will, knowing where to go and when to go are the best-kept secrets for successfully photographing native plants. When asked about a favorite moment while working on this book, Will recalled an early July day on the Blue Ridge Parkway. He had staked out a location near Mount Pisgah where a colony of Lilium superbum was blossoming near trees festooned with Aristolochia vines. As the morning sunshine warmed the air, scores of pipevine swallowtails began to flock to the lilies, often two or three on a blossom. Will’s challenge was to find a butterfly that was not coated with a mass of yellow pollen. And he found just the right photo. In sum, the book that you hold in your hands is the result of my strong desire to demonstrate the beauty and diversity of native plants of southeastern United States. More than that, it is a guide to selecting and utilizing those plants in the home landscape, a trend that began, or accelerated, in the 1970s with the rise of the native plant movement. In this book, I want to entice the reader to take a closer look at native plants by presenting outstanding photos of selected species so painstakingly captured by my friend Will Stuart. My plan has been to give you enough information about the plants to help you decide how to use them; and if you already have native plants on your property, to be able to identify them and appreciate their special value. I encourage you to reconsider how you use a plant you already know, or to try to grow a new species that strikes your fancy. Get to know our Southeast native plants personally.  

Editorial Reviews

“Beautiful. . . . Mellichamp provides a stepping-off point for those ready to make the leap into native plant gardening in the Southeast.” —Native Plants Magazine “Larry Mellichamp knows his plants. . . . His impressive work covers 460 native plant species and helps us not only identify wild plants, but also details how each can be used in a cultivated garden.” —Carolina Country “Opens up [the] world of native plants.” —Charlotte Observer “With concise but comprehensive profiles of plants and how they might best be used in conventional garden settings, lavishly enhanced by photography by veteran wildflower photographer Will Stuart, this book should become the go-to resource for southern gardeners eager to break out of the ‘local garden center mode’ and truly express their botanical individuality.” —Salt Magazine