Post Oak is a medium-sized, deciduous tree of the white oak group. It has rough, leathery, dark green leaves with a cross-shaped appearance. Fall colors are variable, and can be bright yellow. It takes up to 25 years for Post Oak to reach maturity and bear acorns, which provide food for birds and wildlife. It is a host plant for butterfly and moth larvae (caterpillars), including Northern Hairstreak (Satyrium favonius ontario), and Horaces Duskywing (Erynnis horatius). Post Oak tolerates a wide variety of soils, is low-maintenance, and long-lived. Use Post Oak as a street tree, shade tree, or lawn tree in your yard.
Red Oak is a medium-sized, deciduous tree. It is monoecious; insignificant separate male and female catkins appear in spring. The acorns mature in early fall and provide food for birds and wildlife. Fall foliage is russet-red to bright-red, but occasionally yellow-brown. It prefers fertile, dry, sandy soil. Red Oak provides nesting space, cover, and shelter for wildlife. Oaks are host to numerous beneficial insects, which in turn provide food for birds. Red Oak is a host plant to butterfly and moth larvae (caterpillars), including Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus). Use it as a specimen in your yard, a street tree, or lawn tree.
Hophornbeam, or Ironwood, is a small to medium deciduous tree. It is monoecious; insignificant, reddish-brown male flowers and greenish-yellow female flowers appear separately on the same tree. The male catkins persist throughout winter. The female catkins lead to uniquely-shaped seed pods resembling the fruit of hops. Plant Hophornbeam in your small yard or woodland garden, or use it as a street tree.
Common Sneezeweed has daisy-like flowers with distinctive, fan-shaped rays and prominent, raised centers. The flowers bloom from late summer until frost in colors ranging from yellow to reddish-brown to orange. The tall plants add vertical texture to gardens, but may need to be staked. Pinch back plants in early June for bushier growth with more blooms. The common name is based on the former use of its dried leaves to make snuff, which was inhaled to cause sneezing. Sneezeweed has special value for native bees. Use Sneezeweed in the back of borders or beds, wildflower gardens, and naturalized areas.
Wavy Hairgrass is a winter-hardy, ornamental grass with fine-textured, hair-like blades. Feathery purple to bronze flowers appear July-September, turning gold during the winter; the flowers are good fresh-cut or dried. Wavy Hairgrass is one of the few grass species that will grow well in dry shade, although it flowers best in partly shady conditions. Clumping grasses like this one provide nesting sites and winter cover for birds, such as quail and sparrows, and shelter for small mammals. The seeds provide fall and winter food for a number of birds, including cardinals, sparrows, and finches. Use as a specimen plant, or plant in groups in shady borders, woodland gardens, or wildlife habitat areas.
American Hazelnut, a deciduous shrub, is monoecious (separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant); the light-brown male catkins and inconspicuous female flowers emerge March-April. The female flowers lead to uniquely shaped nuts, which mature in late summer. The nuts are edible, sweet, have high nutritional value, and may be eaten raw or ground into flour. The nuts were traditionally used by Native Americans to flavor soup. Many mammal and bird species feed on the nuts, including fox, deer, turkey, woodpeckers, and squirrels. The dense, low-growth characteristics of this species provide cover and nesting sites for wildlife. Its fall foliage colors range from yellow to red. Use American Hazelnut in naturalized areas or woodland gardens, where nut debris will not cause “tree litter.” It can also can be used as a screen planting, or in the back of a shrub border.
Tussock Sedge is a clump-forming, wildlife-friendly sedge adapted to grow in or near water. It has grass-like leaves and reddish-brown flowers, which bloom on spikes, May-June. It spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) to form colonies. As the old leaves die, they build up around the living plant, making a “tussock” or little hill. The tussocks trap water, helping other aquatic plants to establish. Tussock Sedge provides habitat for wildlife, including frogs, toads, salamanders, ducks, herons, rails, snipes and sparrows. Birds use its leaves and stems to build nests and also feed on its seeds. Tussock Sedge is a host for butterfly and moth larvae (caterpillars), including Eyed Brown (Satyrodes eurydice), Mulberry Wing (Poanes massasoit), and Black Dash (Euphyes conspicua). Use it in moist to wet areas of the yard and in areas affected by seasonal flooding. Plant it in rain gardens or along edges of ponds or water gardens. It can also be used as an accent plant.
Pennsylvania Sedge is a low-growing, semi-evergreen perennial sedge, which loves shade. The bright-green, arching, grass-like leaves grow in soft clumps. This plant spreads by rhizomes (underground stems) to form a nice groundcover.
Gray Birch is a medium-sized, short-lived deciduous tree with chalky white bark. It grows best in areas where the soil is shaded, cool, and moist. Keep the shallow root system moist by using mulch and watering during dry weather. This tree can be short-lived in New Jersey. It does not tolerate heat and humidity well, and grows best in areas with cool summers. Use Gray Birch in rain gardens and other areas of the yard with moist soil conditions, or in woodland gardens.
Paper Birch is a short-lived deciduous tree with beautiful, white bark that that peels in papery strips. Catkins (elongated, drooping clusters of tiny flowers without petals) appear just before the leaves emerge. The flowers are followed by cone-like fruits holding small, winged seeds. The seeds are a food source for a variety of birds. The dark green leaves turn yellow in the fall. Paper Birch grows best in areas where the soil is shaded, cool, and moist. Keep the root system moist by using mulch and watering during dry weather. This tree can be short-lived in New Jersey. It does not tolerate heat and humidity well, and grows best in areas with cool summers. Under the proper growing conditions, Paper Birch is an excellent specimen tree. It can also be used in woodland gardens.