Regions

New Jersey is divided into four main physiographic regions based on differences in relief, landforms, and geology – Ridge and Valley, Highlands, Piedmont, and Coastal Plain. The boundary between each region is determined by a major change in topography and geology.

See New Jersey DEP’s for more information about New Jersey’s physiographic regions.

Plant Types

Perennial Flower

Herbaceous (non-woody) flowering plant that lives for more than two years.  It dies back at the end of each growing season and re-emerges each spring from its root stock.

Annual Flower

Herbaceous (non-woody) flowering plant that completes its life cycle from seed to flower to seed within a single growing season.  The plant’s stems, leaves, and roots die annually.

Shrub

Perennial, multi-stemmed woody plant usually less than 13 feet tall and with stems usually no more than about three inches in diameter.

Tree

Perennial woody plant with a single stem (trunk), a definitely formed crown of foliage, and a mature height greater than 13 feet.

Groundcover

Low-growing plant that provides soil cover, helping to prevent soil erosion and weed growth.  It can be either woody or herbaceous (non-woody).

Grass

Monocotyledonous flowering plant with narrow leaves growing from the base.  Monocotyledons have one leaf within the seed, and flower petals in multiples of three.  This plant type includes true grasses, rushes, and sedges.

Vine

Twining/climbing plant with relatively long stems.  It can be either woody or herbaceous (non-woody).

Fern

Flowerless plant that has feathery or leafy fronds and reproduces by spores, typically produced on the undersides of the fronds.

Native/Non-Native Plants

Native Plant

Plant that occurs naturally in a particular region, ecosystem, or habitat without direct or indirect human intervention.  Only plants found in New Jersey before European settlement are considered to be native to the state.  New Jersey native plants have evolved over thousands of years to be well-adapted to conditions here and to the other plants and animals around them.

Non-Native Plant

Plant that does not occur naturally in a particular region or ecosystem, but has been introduced with human help (intentionally or accidentally) to a new area or new type of habitat.

Special Ecoregions

Ecoregion

Large area that includes generally similar ecosystems and has similar types, qualities, and quantities of environmental resources.  It is determined by examining patterns of vegetation, animal life, geology, soils, water quality, climate, human land use, and other ecosystem components.

Pinelands

Mosaic of forest, wetland, and aquatic habitats occupying over 1 million acres on the outer section of the Coastal Plain region of New Jersey.  The Pinelands ecoregion is characterized by sandy, acidic, well-drained, infertile soils, frequent fires, and extensive pine-oak woodlands.  This ecoregion is known for its diverse population of plants and animals, including some that are found nowhere else on Earth.  PLEASE NOTE: Only plants that are native to the Pinelands are listed as Pinelands selections in the Jersey-Friendly Plant Database.

Barrier Island/Coastal Habitat

Dynamic region containing many unique and valuable habitat areas, including dunes, maritime forests, and salt marshes.  Barrier islands are long, narrow, offshore deposits of sand or other sediment parallel to and separated from the mainland by a bay or other estuarine body of water. This ecoregion also includes mainland coastal areas along the bay or other tidal waterways.  PLEASE NOTE: The Barrier Island/Coastal plant selections in the Jersey-Friendly Plant Database are mostly native species, but also include non-native species which do well in a coastal environment.  While annuals are not included on this list, most will do well in this ecoregion with proper plant care (watering, mulching, and incorporating organic matter into the soil).

Hardiness Zones

A hardiness zone is a geographically-defined zone in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing, as defined by temperature hardiness, or ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone. New Jersey’s hardiness zones range from 6a in the northwestern part of the state to 7b in southern New Jersey. Link for the New Jersey hardiness zone map.

Sun/Shade Conditions

Full Sun

At least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Partial Shade

3 to 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.

Shade

Less than 3 hours of direct sunlight a day, or filtered sunlight.

Soil Conditions

Soil Types

Clay

Fine-textured soil.

Loam

Medium-textured soil (contains a mix of soil types, mostly silt and sand).

Sand

Coarse-textured soil.

Organic

Soil containing a high percentage of organic matter, such as decayed leaves.

Soil Moisture

Well-drained

Water does not remain on the ground after a rain.

Medium-drained

Soil is damp, and occasionally saturated.

Wet

Soil is saturated, except during droughts.

Soil pH

Measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of the soil.  The soil pH decreases as the number of hydrogen ions in the soil increases.  Soil pH is important because it affects the availability of nutrients to the plants and the activity of soil microorganisms beneficial to plants.

Acidic

6.0 and lower

Slightly acidic

6.1-6.5

Neutral

6.6-7.3

Slightly alkaline

7.4-7.8

Alkaline

7.9 and higher

Attracts Wildlife

The flowers, seeds, fruits, or other parts of this plant provide food for birds, hummingbirds, butterflies, and/or pollinators like bees.  If a plant is listed as attracting butterflies, the adults, larvae (caterpillars), or both life stages use it as a food source.   It is important to note that besides food, many plants also provide cover and/or nesting sites for native wildlife.

Growth Rate

Relative rate of growth of the plant compared to other species of the same plant type in the same geographical region.

Plant Size

Average mature size of the plant measured in feet.

Salt Tolerance

Relative tolerance of the plant to soil salinity compared to other species of the same plant type in the same geographical region.

Drought Tolerance

Relative tolerance of the plant to drought conditions compared to other species of the same plant type in the same geographical region.

Deer Resistance

Relative resistance of the plant to browsing by deer.  Deer-resistant does not mean deer-proof.  No plant is 100% deer-proof.  When food is scarce, hungry deer will eat almost anything to survive.  Several factors determine the extent of deer browsing, including local deer populations, weather conditions, available food sources, and the time of year.