List of Native Shrubs for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois.

Developed for the Corridors for Tomorrow Project"

Kenneth R. Robertson
Center for Biodiversity
Illinois Natural History Survey
607 East Peabody Drive
Champaign, IL 61820 USA

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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. drummondii above
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. drummondii above
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. drummondii above; 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. glabra below, 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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