This bibliography contains books that will be useful to people who are interested in native plants. It is divided by topic and the entries are generally annotated to help you in finding the books that answer your own personal needs. Most sections contain a few books that are recommended because they are either generally respected or very widely used. An attempt has been made to cast the net widely so some of the books listed are out of print. These can usually be found in your local library.

This list, and the annotations, are the result of suggestions made by MNPS members. The list is open to constant change. If you know of a book you think should be included, or you would like to add your comments to an annotation, please e-mail the information to info @ for consideration.

Just Published: Flora of Virginia. You can order a copy from The Flora of Virginia Project 


Newcomb's Wildflower Guide; Lawrence Newcomb; 1989; Little Brown & Co.; ISBN: 0-316-60442-9.

Highly Recommended - Probably the best book for carrying around on a day hike when the larger books will weigh you down. Very good for general use. It has an easy to use key that is good for many common, and not-so-common species. You will always find the Genus but an exact species identification can in some cases be difficult. This book makes a clear distinction between native and alien species. The paperback version is tough enough to last for many years.

Herbaceous Plants of Maryland; Melvin Brown, and Russell Brown; 1964; Port City Press: Baltimore, MD.

Highly Recommended - This is the definitive source for identification of herbaceous plants in Maryland. It is not simple to use but the key will get you to a definitive identification. Too large for most people to carry hiking.

This book includes the flowering vascular plants plus ferns, grasses, sedges, and rushes, but excludes woody plants and mosses.

A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-Central North America (Peterson Field Guides); Roger Tory Peterson, Margaret McKenny; 1998; Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston; ISBN: 0-395-91172-9.

A good book for the beginning student. Some people find the key this book uses for identification to be counter-intuitive. The book makes a clear distinction between native and alien species.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Eastern Region; William A. Niering, Nancy C. Olmstead; 1979; Knopf: New York City; ISBN: 0-394-50432-1.

A book appropriate for the beginning student. It has beautiful color photographs (which can be worth pages of descriptive text), but it is somewhat incomplete. Advanced identifiers may find themselves frustrated because many of the large genera only include a species or two.

A Guide to Wildflowers in Winter: Herbaceous Plants of Northeastern North America; Carol Levine; 1995; Yale University Press; 329 pgs.; ISBN: 0-300-06560-4.

This book has an unusual key that does not depend on either flowers or foliage. If you have a general idea what the plant might be the line drawings will help you identify it. This book does not distinguish between native and alien species.

Woody Plants

The National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region; Elbert L., Jr. Little; 1980; Knopf: New York City; ISBN: 0-394-50760-6.

Recommended - A good book for the beginning student. This book is organized by leaf type and has a fairly easy-to-use key that will lead you to the basic types of tree (oak, birch, etc). The descriptions will then generally let you make a species level identification. It has very good color pictures of leaves, bark, flowers, and fruit and it has an interesting historical/cultural comment on many species. This book points out when a species is an alien introduction.

Woody Plants of Maryland; Melvin Brown, and Russell Brown; 1972; Port City Press: Baltimore, MD; 347 pgs.

Highly Recommended - This is the definitive source for identification of woody plants in Maryland. It is not simple to use but the key will get you to a definitive identification. Too large for most people to carry hiking.

A Field Guide to Eastern Trees (Peterson Field Guides); George A. Petrides, Janet Wehr, Roger Tory Peterson; 1998; Houghton Mifflin Co.: Boston; ISBN: 0-395-90455-2.

A good book for the beginning student. This book has an effective and easy-to-use key. It covers only trees, not shrubs nor other small woody plants.

Trees of the Eastern and Central United States and Canada; William M. Harlow; 1957; Dover Publication; 306 pgs.; ISBN: 0-486-20395-6.

Although centered on New York State, this book has a very thorough key that usually gets you to the right place. It is organized by family, so once you're familiar with the basic types of tree (oak, birch, etc) you can easily locate the species. It has very interesting information about the uses of the species as well. Good photos of leaf, bark, flowers, and fruit. It includes some shrubs and small trees. Some southern species found in Maryland are missing. Very inexpensive and easy to carry in a pocket.

Fall Color and Woodland Harvests: a Guide to the More Colorful Fall Leaves and Fruits of the Eastern Forests; C. Ritchie Bell and Anne H. Lindsey; 1990; Laurel Hill Press: Chapel Hill, NC; ISBN: 0-9608688-1-X.

A paperback that can fit in a large pocket. It has a key appropriate to the autumn. The selection of trees contained in this book are almost all found in Maryland and very few trees it mentions do not grow here. If you learn the trees in this book you'll know most of our native trees. Superb photographs leave you in no doubt about the identification year round because it's easy to mentally substitute green for the fall color.

Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast; Leonard Foote, and Samuel Jones; 1989; Timber Press: Portland, OR.

Silvics of North America. 1990. Vol. 1: Conifers; Vol. 2: Hardwoods. USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 654. [Supersedes Silvics of Forest Trees of the U.S.] 


Grasses of Washington, D.C.; Kamal M. Ibrahim, Paul M. Peterson (Author); 2014; Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press; 139 pgs.; ISSN: 0081-024X (print); 1938-2812 (online)

A vegetative key, descriptions, and illustrations for the identification of 182 native and naturalized grasses that occur in Washington, D.C., are presented. In addition, we provide a glossary of terms and indexes to scientific and common names. The key is based on vegetative characters to allow identification of specimens that primarily do not have flowering structures (inflorescences and spikelets). Download available

Agnes Chase's First Book of Grasses: The Structure of Grasses Explained for Beginners; Lynn G. Clark (Editor); 1996; Smithsonian Institution Press; 162 pgs.; ISBN: 1-560-98656-5.

This is the latest edition of a botanical classic first published in 1922. This book divides the complexity of grasses into twelve lessons. It provides a good way to gain a basic understanding of the taxonomy of grasses. Each grass type is illustrated by detailed line drawings. The first chapter surveys basic vegetative and reproductive parts and then the remaining eleven lessons describe increasingly complex spikelet and inflorescence varieties, including the taxonomic context and structure. This book is dense and has chapters with titles like "Paired Spikelets with Hardened Glumes and Membranaceous Lemmas" but it is a good background for those intending to answer the questions found in most grass identification keys.

Field Guide to the Grasses, Sedges and Rushes of the United States; Edward, Knobel; 1977; Dover Publications; 96 pgs.; ISBN: 0-486-23505-X.

This is a small compact field guide that holds a wealth of information. It uses a remarkably easy key based on the general appearance of the inflorence through which one can usually quickly identify a plant. This book is good for field use, but for an absolute species identification, it should be supplemented with a more sophisticated taxonomic guide.

Grasses: An Identification Guide; Lauren Brown; 1992; Houghton Mifflin Co.; ISBN: 0-3956-2881-4.

This identification guide is primarily focused on grasses of the Northeastern U.S., many of which are also found in the mid-Atlantic states. It is aimed at helping botanical amateurs identify common grasses. It does not do a very thorough job of explaining the ecology of a species once you have identified it, but, grasses are hard to identify and this book can be a great help.


A Field Guide to Ferns: And Their Related Families: Northeastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guides); Boughton Cobb; 1999; Houghton Mifflin Co.; ISBN: 0-395975-123.

Recommended - This fern ID book, like all the Peterson field guides, is small enough to carry easily. It has a very strange but effective key based on various aspects of the fern, including the leaf shape. The key will usually point you to the right part of the book and, with a bit of paging, you will be able to identify most common, and some not-so-common, ferns.

Guide to Eastern Ferns; Edgar Theodore Wherry; 1948; University of Pennsylvania Press: Philadelphia; 255 pgs.

This classic is out of print. It covers the identification of the ferns and fern-allies of the region from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Virginia.

Wetland / Coastal

In Search of Swampland: A Wetland Sourcebook and Field Guide, Ralph W. Tiner; 1998; Rutgers University Press; 380 pgs.; ISBN: 0-81352-5063.

This is a good introduction for the non-scientist. It covers the "how, what, and why" of wetlands, as well as how they develop over time. It has many good illustrations. It is an overview written by the author of the following field guide.

A Field Guide to Coastal Wetland Plants of the Northeastern United States, Ralph W. Tiner; 1987; University of Massachusetts Press: Amherst, MA; ISBN: 0-87023-538-9.

This book covers: 1. Coastal Wetland Ecology: A General Overview (different tidal wetland habitats, their description and characteristics, & typical species of each); 2. Identification of Coastal Wetland Plants (easy to use diagnostic keys); 3. wetland plant descriptions and illustrations (this is over half the book, organized by environment). Each entry has the scientific and common names, family, full description, habitat, range, similar species, and very accurate diagram drawings. Over 150 species are covered.

Common Plants of the Mid-Atlantic Coast: A Field Guide, Gene Silberhorn; 1982; Johns Hopkins University Press; 255 pgs.; ISBN: 0-801-82725-6.

The best drawings available in a wetland field guide. Ideal for salt and brackish marshes, beaches, dunes, maritime forests, and tidal wetlands (both brackish and freshwater). This book is also available from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, Gloucest Point, VA.

Chesapeake Bay. Nature of the Estuary. A Field Guide, C. P. White; 1989; Tidewater Publishers: Centerville, MD; ISBN: 87033-351-8.

A natural history arranged into nine sections matching the major habitats of the area. Good brief descriptions, and very attractive (and abundant) line drawings.

Wetland Indicators: A Guide to Wetland Identification, Delineation, Classification, and Mapping; Ralph W. Tiner; 1999; Lewis Publishers, Inc.; 475 pgs.; ISBN: 0-87371-8925.

This book is aimed at the professional wetland delineator but it is general enough to be of use to the advanced identifier. It explains the current concept of wetland, the use of various plant, soil and other indicators for wetland identification in the U.S., and methods for identifying, describing, classifying, and delineating wetlands. The chapters on wetland mapping and photo interpretation describe the variety of plant communities associated with wetlands. Fifty-five color plates document wetland properties throughout the nation.

Wetland Plant Identification: Field Guide to the Submerged Aquatic Vegetation of Chesapeake Bay; Linda Hurley; 1992; U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Pond and Brook: a guide to nature in freshwater environments; Michael J. Caduto; 1990; University Press of New England; ISBN: 0-87451-509-2.

Field Guide to Non-tidal Wetland Identification, Ralph W. Tiner, 1988; Maryland Department of Natural Resources and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Newton Corner, MA, Annapolis, MD. Cooperative publication. 283 pgs.

Wetlands of Maryland, R. W. Tiner and D.G. Burke; 1995; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ecological Services, Region 5, Hadley, MA; and Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Annapolis, MD. Cooperative publication. 193 pgs.

Mosses and other Bryophytes

Mosses and Other Bryophytes: An Illustrated Glossary; Bill Malcolm and Nancy Malcolm; 2000; Timber Press; 220 pgs.; ISBN: 0-473-06730-7.

This glossary briefly defines the botanical terms likely to be used in the descriptions of mosses and other bryophytes, and is illustrated with more than 900 remarkable photographs taken at various levels of magnification, mostly using a microscope, that reveal the amazing details of structure in nearly 400 mosses, liverworts, and hornworts. The book will be of interest not only to those specifically concerned with mosses but to naturalists in general.

Maryland Bryophytes Collected by Elmer G. Worthley; Edward Uebel (editor); 2000; Maryland Native Plant Society. MNPS has copies available for sale; for more information, see Maryland Bryophytes Collected by Elmer G. Worthley.

The purpose of this manuscript is to preserve as much pertinent information about Maryland mosses as possible, so that future Maryland bryologists will have some knowledge about which mosses have been found in Maryland, their abundance, location, habitats, and associations. Dr. Worthley's herbarium contained 15 collections of hornworts, representing 4 species; 1138 collections of mosses representing 191 species; and 291 collections of hepatics representing 56 species. His entire collection is now in the Missouri Botanical Garden.

For the Advanced Identifier

The Flora of North America; Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 12+ vols. New York and Oxford.

This resource is viewable on-line, and still is a work in progress. One can order hard-copies through this site, also. Visit

Woody Plants of Maryland; Melvin Brown, and Russell Brown; 1972; Port City Press: Baltimore, MD; 347 pgs.

Highly Recommended - This is the definitive source for identification of woody plants in Maryland. It is not simple to use but the key will get you to a definitive identification. Too large for most people to carry hiking.

Herbaceous Plants of Maryland; Melvin Brown, and Russell Brown; 1964; Port City Press: Baltimore, MD.

Highly Recommended - This is the definitive source for identification of herbaceous plants in Maryland. It is not simple to use but the key will get you to a definitive identification. Too large for most people to carry hiking.

Manual of the Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada; Henry A Gleason & Arthur Cronquist; 2nd edition, 1991; New York Botanical Garden: Bronx, NY; ISBN: 0-893273-651.

A very complete identification guide. This is the definitive identification book for plants of this geographical region.

The Illustrated Companion to Gleason & Cronquist's Manual; Noel Holmgren; 1998; New York Botanical Garden: Bronx, NY; ISBN: 0-893273-996.

This book is a bit pricey but it is a very useful reference. It consists of 827 plates containing meticulously rendered black and white botanical illustrations arranged and labeled to cross-reference with Gleason and Cronquist's 1991 edition. It also contains useful diagnostic details not previously presented.

Gray's Manual of Botany: A Handbook of Flowering Plants and Ferns of the Central and Northeastern U.S. and Adjacent Canada; Merritt Lyndon Fernald.

Out of print at this time but used copies are generally available.

Dictionary of Plant Names; Allen Coombes; 1997; Timber Press: Portland, OR; 195 pgs.; ISBN: 0-88192-294-3.

A dictionary that gives the meaning of thousands of words commonly found in the binomial names of plants. It makes for fascinating reading and knowing what these words mean can often help you remember them.

Regional Books

Flora of Virginia. ou can order a copy from The Flora of Virginia Project

Annotated Checklist of the Vascular Plants of the Washington - Baltimore Area Part I Ferns, Fern Allies, Gymnosperms, and Dicotyledons; Stanwyn G. Shetler and Sylvia Stone Orli; 2000; Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 204 pgs. (600 KB pdf version)

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed; Slattery, Britt E., Kathryn Reshetiloff, and Susan M. Zwicker; 2003; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay Field Office, Annapolis, MD. 82 pgs.

This booklet is available for sale through the Maryland Native Plant Society. For more information, please see Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping on our web site.

City of Trees: The Complete Field Guide to the Trees of Washington, D.C.; Melanie Choukas-Bradley, Polly Alexander; Johns Hopkins University Press; 334 pgs.; ISBN: 0801-833-205.

This is a very readable and extensively-researched look at the trees of Washington, D.C. It's a good field guide for identifying trees, but it also tells the fascinating stories behind many of the trees planted in D.C.

A Sketch of the Natural History of the District of Columbia; Waldo Lee McAtee; 1918; H. L. & J. B McQueen, Inc. Washington, D.C. 143 pgs plus maps. web version from the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Download pdf (15MB)

Field Guide to the Piedmont: The Natural Habitats of America's Most Lived-In Region, from New York City to Montgomery, Alabama; Michael A. Godfrey; 1997; University of North Carolina Press; 536 pgs.; ISBN: 0807-8467-16.

This is for the serious student of native plants. It presents an in-depth look at the plants and animals of the region; their interdependence, and at succession from bare soil to climax forest.

The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual; Ann Fowler Rhoads, Timothy A. Block; 2000; University of Pennsylvania Press; 1040 pgs.; ISBN: 0812-2353-55.

Developed in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Flora Database project and compiled by botanists at Pennsylvania's Morris Arboretum, this guide provides a means of identifying the more than 3,000 species of ferns and fern allies, gymnosperms, dicots, and monocots that are both native and naturalized in the state. Includes keys to families, genera, and species; extensive black and white diagnostic illustrations; scientific and common names; and data on distribution ranges, relative frequency, rare and endangered species, blooming and fruiting periods, taxonomic notes, and an illustrated glossary.

Atlas of the Virginia Flora; Harvill, A.M., Jr., Ted R. Bradley, Charles E. Stevens, Thomas F. Wieboldt, Donna M. E. Ware, Douglas W. Ogle, Gwynn W. Ramsey, and Gary P. Fleming; 1992; Virginia Botanical Associates: Burkeville, VA; 144 pgs.

A very helpful book which will let you know if something you're seeing and wondering about is likely to be in the area. It is especially helpful if you are in a MD county bordering VA. [This book is available from A.M. Harvill, Route 1, Box 63, Burkeville, VA 23922].

Flora of West Virginia; P.D. Strausbaugh & Earl Core; 1977; Seneca Books: Grantsville, WV; ISBN: 0-89092-010-9.

Guide to the Vascular Plants of the Blue Ridge; B. Eugene Wofford; 1989; University of Georgia Press; 384 pgs.; ISBN: 0-8203-1080-8.

Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas; Albert E. Radford; 1968; University of North Carolina Press.

An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada; Addison Brown, Nathaniel Lord Britton; 1913; Reprinted 1970; Dover Publications; 695 pgs.; ISBN: 0-48622-6441.

Ecology and Plant Communities

A Field Guide to the Ecology of Eastern Forests: North America (Peterson Field Guide Series); John C. Kricher, Gordon Morrison; 1998; Houghton Mifflin Co.; 544 pgs.; ISBN: 0-39592-8958.

This is not a field guide in the usual sense, but is an introduction to forest ecology from the naturalists perspective. It is a good first book. The great value of this book lies in its concise explanations of plant succession, types of climax forest, adaptive mechanisms, and seasonal patterns.

Pollinators of Native Plants: Attract, Observe and Identify Pollinators and Beneficial Insects with Native Plants; by Heather Holm; Pollination Press LLC; ISBN: 0991356306

Field Guide to the Piedmont: The Natural Habitats of America's Most Lived-In Region, from New York City to Montgomery, Alabama; Michael A. Godfrey; 1997; University of North Carolina Press; 536 pgs.; ISBN: 0807-8467-16.

This is for the serious student of native plants. It presents an in-depth look at the plants and animals of the region; their interdependence, and at succession from bare soil to climax forest.

Gardening/Landscaping with Natives

Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards; Sara Stein; 1993; Houghton Mifflin: New York City; 294 pgs.; ISBN: 0-395-65373-8.

Recommended - This gentle manifesto is a good place to start. It is a personal perspective on growing a garden in which snakes are as welcome as butterflies. In chapters that loosely follow the course of a year - beginning in the fall and ending the following Thanksgiving - the author describes how she came to radically change the way she gardened.

The Natural Habitat Garden; Ken Druse; 1994; Clarkson Potter; 245 pgs.; ISBN: 0-517-58989-3.

Recommended - This book describes ways to create a garden based on native plant communities. Its emphasis on understanding local conditions, native vs. indigenous plants, natural plant associations, and integrated pest management set it apart from most of the other "gardening" books. It does not always make the right suggestions, for instance it trivializes the importance of local genotype, but at least it introduces the topics. It uses 500 striking color photographs of gardens across the country to introduce the plant associations found in grasslands, wetlands, drylands and woodlands. The book also includes tips for researching the pre-settlement natural history of a region, extensive plant lists, and specific instructions on such things as controlling invasive alien species, firescaping, and diverting run-off.

The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada; William Cullina; 2000; Houghton Mifflin Co.; 322 pgs.; ISBN: 0-39596-6094.

Recommended - One of the most authoritative references on this subject. More than a thousand species of flowers are discussed and pictured. This is as much a book for the gardener as the propagator since information on native habitat, cultural requirements, propagation, and design considerations are given for each genus/species. The amount of propagation advice varies from species to species and is based directly on the results gained at the New England Wild Flower Society's "Garden in the Woods."

Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast: Landscaping Uses and Identification; Samuel B. Jones, and Leonard E. Foote; 1998; Timber Press: Portland, OR; 255 pgs.; ISBN: 0-88192-416-4.

Gardening with Native Wild Flowers; Samuel B. Jones, and Leonard E. Foote; 1990; Timber Press: Portland, OR; 195 pgs.; ISBN: 0-88192-381-8.

The above two companion books provide practical advice on the uses of wildflowers, and hardy ferns, shrubs, and vines native to the eastern and midwestern United States. Grasses, sedges, and rushes are also covered. Information on which natives are appropriate in shady, sunny, or wetland settings and how to grow them is given. It also includes some information on propagation. They both have beautiful color plates. Good books for the novice or amateur.

American Plants for American Gardens; Edith A. Roberts, Elsa Rehmann; 1996; University of Georgia Press; ISBN: 0-82031-8515.

This book was originally published as a magazine series in the 1920's. It makes a strong case for ecological considerations when creating a garden and its plant lists are arranged according to ecological association.

How to Grow Wildflowers and Wild Shrubs and Trees in Your Own Garden; Hal Bruce, Charles Elliott; 1998; The Lyons Press; ISBN: 0-82031-8515.

The title suggests that this is a book about plant propagation, but it is much more. It is a beautifully written book about learning to garden through the careful observation of native plant communities. Charles Elliot writes in the introduction, "A basic text for wild gardening in America, an inspiration to enthusiasts, and a particularly effective call to arms for those concerned about saving the natural treasurers of the American landscape." One note of caution; this book was written in 1976 before there was an understanding of the threat posed by non-native invasive species.

The author describes where to find and how to grow wild things, both for their beauty and for the good of the planet. He gives instruction on how to cultivate uncommon native plants and what to plant in resistant or unusual areas, such as aquatic gardens or sandy spots. There is an appendix of sources for wild plants and a chart of planting zones. It is filled with interesting and useful information on the plants it describes, but those looking for a pictorial, step-by-step, truly "how-to" manual should consult other reference books. It focuses on plants found in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. with particular reference to the Delmarva peninsula. The book describes the author's year-long, three-times-per-week, 90-mile commute through Delmarva and tells us about the flora and fauna he sees on these drives, and then goes into a description of their attributes, their relationship to the environment, and the history of their development and distribution. It then shares ideas about how these plant materials can be best used in a garden. Please note that the author is definitely not a purist, and reconciles the use of exotics, and store-bought plants, along side native species.

A Gardener's Encyclopedia of Wildflowers: An Organic Guide to Choosing and Growing over 150 Beautiful Wildflowers; C. Colston Burrell; 1997; Rodale Press; 216 pgs.; ISBN: 0-87596-723X.

This book places native species in both natural and garden contexts. It also provides an adequate treatment of the basics of native garden care in some introductory chapters. It is not a comprehensive reference but instead provides very complete descriptions of a representative sampling of about 150 native plants. It also treats other related species in side bars and contrasts them with the fuller description. It includes a bibliography and a good glossary as well seed and plant sources throughout the country. It does not, however, give any advice on planting native seeds.

The Once and Future Forest: A Guide to Forest Restoration Strategies; Leslie Jones Sauer, Ian McHarg; 1998; Island Press; 350 pgs.; ISBN: 1559-635-533.

Landscape architect Sauer provides a manual on the processes and resources implicated in the restoration of metro-forests: water, ground, plants, and wildlife. It helps you see the big picture and think through the details, like handling storm water and invasive exotic species. The book includes lists of native species and invasive exotics in the Northeastern US.

Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses; Michael A. Dirr; 1998 (5th edition); Stipes Publishing Co.; ISBN: 0-875-63795-7.

One of the most widely used reference manuals in the landscape/nursery trade. Covers information for native and non-native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and vines. Over 1100 pages, many entries with line drawings. Details about morphology, culture, disease/insect pests, landscape value, and propagation practices are covered for each entry. This book is primarily about horticultural varieties and cultivars but can be of help when planting and maintaining native species.

Roadside Use Of Native Plants; Bonnie L. Harper-Lore and Maggie Wilson; 2000; Island Press: Washington, DC; 665 pgs.; ISBN: 1-55963-837-0.

This book was first created by the Federal Highway Administration and is aimed at the highway administrator but it contains material useful to all native plant landscapers. It covers both basic topics like "Defining a Native Plant", and more complex issues such as "Using Plant Communities as Models", "Working with Succession", and "Choosing Non-Invasive Plant Materials".

Gardening With Native Plants of the South; Sally Wasowski, Andy Wasowski; 1994; Taylor Publ.; 196 pgs.; ISBN: 0-87833-8020.

This book has a strictly southern US orientation. Plant profiles are grouped by type and size and it describes native habitats as well as appropriate garden conditions. It gives plant data, and also describes plant uses by native wildlife from toads to birds to insects, including those used as larval food for butterflies.

Native Trees, Shrubs, And Vines For Urban And Rural America: A Planting Design Manual For Environmental Designers; Gary L. Hightshoe.; 1988; John Wiley & Sons: New York City; 819 pgs.; ISBN: 0-471-28879-9.

This book treats trees, shrubs and vines separately. The author first explores the questions to be asked when making a selection of appropriate plants within each category. He then provides an encyclopedia of native woody plants designed so the gardener can answer these questions. Each entry includes not only drawings of the plants leaves, twigs, fruits, etc. but also its characteristics and how they apply to the questions he raised about selection.

The Native Plant Primer; Carole Ottesen; 1995; Harmony Books: New York City; 354 pgs.; ISBN: 0-517-59215-0. Out of print, but available used.

An elaborately produced reference that is illustrated with some 500 color photos. Each region of the country is described in terms of its gardening characteristics; and recommended native perennials, annuals, grasses, ferns, water plants, vines, shrubs, and trees are listed. The idea is to use native plants and to exploit their tendency to flourish in their local habitats with less use of pesticides, fertilizers, and extra watering. The author recounts her coast-to-coast tour of native plant gardens and her meetings with gardening experts in each region. (There is a section specifically about gardening in the South East.) The bulk of the book comprises entries for individual plants, each with a color photo, with textual description that has a charming and chatty personal slant, and with information about cultivation.

The Wild Lawn Handbook: Alternatives To The Traditional Front Lawn; Stevie Daniels; 1997; IDG Books Worldwide; 256 pgs.; ISBN: 0-028-62004-6.

Native grasses, wildflowers, ground covers, and moss are the author's answer to "monotonous single-species turfgrass lawns." Her book is a primer for gardeners who want to reduce or stop using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserve water, or turn their yards into a collection of plants that attracts birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. There are detailed instructions on choosing a wild lawn and on installing and maintaining the lawn, and even a chapter on landscaping ordinances. Daniels divides the wild lawns into chapters on prairies and native grasses, meadows, moss lawns, woodlands, ground covers, and front-yard gardens.

100 Easy to Grow Native Plants; Lorraine Johnson; 1999; Firefly Books; 160 pgs.; ISBN: 1-552-09327-1.

This book is appropriate for the beginning native plant gardener. The common and botanical name, height, and blooming period of each plant is given, along with its soil, sun, shade, and moisture requirements. Other data includes each plant's native habitat and range (Northeast, prairies, or Northwest), description, propagation, good companions, and related species. Such familiar plants as bee balm, black-eyed Susan, Christmas fern, Jacob's ladder, purple coneflower, and Virginia bluebells are listed.

Native Plants of the Southeast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best 460 Species for the Garden; by Larry Mellichamp; 2014; Timber Press; ISBN: 1604693231

The Wildlife Garden: Planning Backyard Habitats; Charlotte Seidenberg; 1995; University of Mississippi Press. Out of print.

This book has a southern U.S. focus.

Landscaping With Native Trees: The Northeast, Midwest, Midsouth & Southeast Edition; Guy Sternberg; 1995; Chapters Publishing. Out of print.

Nature's Design: A Practical Guide To Natural Landscaping; Carol A. Smyser; 1982; Rodale Press: Emmaus, PA; 390 pgs. ISBN: 0-87857-343-7. Out of print.

Wild Gardening: Strategies And Procedures Using Native Plantings; Richard L. Austin.; 1986; Simon & Schuster: New York; 96 pgs.; ISBN: 0-671-60241-1. Out of print.

Propagation of Native Plants

The New England Wild Flower Society Guide to Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada; William Cullina; 2000; Houghton Mifflin Co.; 322 pgs.; ISBN: 0-39596-6094.

Recommended - This book is useful for the gardener but it also has a very good section on propagation. There is an excellent introduction that covers most of the issues faced in propagation from seed. These include seed cleaning and storage, pre-treatment of seeds, choice of containers and propagation mix, sowing, and the care of seedlings. It also covers propagation by cutting and division. It then gives suggested strategies for hundreds of specific genus/species. While helpful this second section is not as thorough as the first with some species getting a much more in-depth treatment. It can, however, be trusted because it is based on the direct experience gained at the New England Wild Flower Society's "Garden in the Woods." The issue of hydrophilic germinators (seeds that need a warm moist period before a cold moist one) is explained better here than in any other source.

Growing and Propagating Wild Flowers; Harry R. Phillips; 1985; University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill; 325 pgs.; ISBN: 0-8078-4131-5.

Recommended - This book, based on the accumulated experience at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, covers general gardening topics and the cultivation of numerous species but it's focus is on seed and vegetative propagation. It gives a careful description of seed collection, seed cleaning and storage, pre-germination treatment, and seedling care for more than 150 species of plants appropriate to gardens. It has a section on carnivorous plants (such as the sundews and pitcher plants) as well as one on the propagation of ferns. It points out the alien origin of the few non-native plants that are discussed.

Seeds of Woody Plants in North America; James A. Young, and Cheryl G. Young; 1992; Dioscorides Press: Portland, Oregon; 407 pgs.; ISBN: 0-931146-21-6.
Woody Plant Seed Manual. 2008. USDA Forest Service Agriculture Handbook 727. 2008. [an update of Seeds of Woody Plants of the United States]

Recommended - This is essentially a revised edition of the USDA publication "Seeds of Woody Plants in the United States", USDA - Handbook 450. As with the original it contains practical advice for the forester and gardener but it has been expanded to cover over 385 genera. For each genus covered there is a brief discussion of its general growth habit, distribution and uses (by humans and, to a very limited extent, wildlife) followed by more detailed information on flowering and fruiting phenology, seed collection and storage methods, germination and field/nursery techniques for sowing. Most entries also include very good drawings of seeds and seedlings. There is a passable glossary and a large bibliography. One warning is that this book was written before the dangers of invasive exotics were generally accepted. It contains, for instance, careful instructions on propagating Multiflora rosa.

Collecting Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants; James A. Young, Cheryl G. Young; 1986; Timber Press; 236 pgs.; ISBN: 0-881920-576.

Even though the information given about propagation for each genus is much shorter this is not simply a dumbed down version of the book "Seeds of Woody Plants in North America" by the same authors. This book has chapters which provide a general introduction to the handling of seeds, which is something their other book lacks. Topics such as seed physiology, seed collection, cleaning, storage, and pre-planting treatment are discussed in depth starting from a layman's understanding. This book also includes many herbaceous species. Specific propagation instructions are generally given at the genus level and are basically a collection of untested, but footnoted, personal observations. The book has an overall agri-forestry slant but contains information useful for any propagator.

Seeds: Ecology, Biogeography, and Evolution of Dormancy and Germination; Carol C. Baskin, Jerry M. Baskin; 1998; Academic Press; 666 pgs.; ISBN: 0-120802-600.

This is basically a textbook, suitable for ecologists, plant scientists, horticulturists, and foresters. It stands out from the other books on propagation because the Baskins handle seed germination from an ecological rather than a strictly horticultural perspective. Topics covered include types of dormancy, theories of the relationship between dormancy and germination, the timing of germination, the various factors that control germination, and the general aspects of germination in different sorts of habitats. There are tables listing the specifics of germination for hundreds of species. With a price of $100, most people will find this a useful library resource.

Seed Germination Theory and Practice; Norman Deno; self published: 139 Lenor Drive, State College, PA, 16801; 242 pgs.

An exhaustive report, in tabled format, of germination trials covering more than 2500 species. The introductory chapters are very informative on general issues in seed propagation. This book is appropriate for, and recommend for, the advanced propagator. Unfortunately, the book does not make a clear distinction between native and non-native species. You must buy this book, as well as the growing number of supplements, directly from the author at: Norman Deno; 139 Lenor Drive; State College, PA; 16801.

Seeds of woody plants of the United States - Agriculture Handbook 450; C. S. Schopmeyer (editor); 1974; U.S. Department of Agriculture: Washington, D.C.

This book addresses many details of propagating native woody plants from seed. It is a good resource but is generally unavailable. See the more readily alternative "Seeds of Woody Plants in North America" by Young & Young.

The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation: From Seed to Tissue Culture: A Practical Working Guide to the Propagation of over 1100 Species; Michael A. Dirr, and Charles W. Heuser; 1987; Varsity Press Inc.; 1100 pgs.; ISBN: 0-942-37500-9.

One of the most widely used reference manuals in the landscape/nursery trade. It focuses on cultivars and non-native trees, shrubs, groundcovers and vines but can be helpful with natives as well. Over 1100 pages, many entries with line drawings. Details about morphology, culture, disease/insect pests, landscape value, propagation practices, and the habitat of native species are covered for each entry. This book includes horticultural varieties and cultivars.

The Prairie Garden; J. Smith, and Beatrice Smith; 1980; University of Wisconsin Press: Madison, WI; 219 pgs.; ISBN: 0-299-08304-7.

An introduction to the propagation of prairie plant species. These are often the most suitable species for a sunny location. The book is written for people of the North-Central states but it has a good introductory section and many of the species covered are also native to Maryland.

Non-Native Plants

Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas; Swearingen, J., K. Reshetiloff, B. Slattery, and S. Zwicker; 2002; National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Washington, DC; 82 pgs.

This booklet is available for sale through the Maryland Native Plant Society. For more information, please see Plant Invaders of Mid-Atlantic Natural Areas on our web site.

Invasive Plants; Dr. Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman and Wallace Kaufman; 2007; Stackpole Books (, Mechanicsburg, PA; 464 pages.

This book is a full color field guide that identifies 175 alien species. The book describes each plant, the range, the impact in addition to recommendations to help control them.

Nonnative Invasive Plants of Southern Forests; James H. Miller; 2003; USDA Forest Service, Southern Research Station: Asheville, NC; 93 pgs. Also called General Technical Report SRS-62.

This booklet, while oriented toward the Southern states, contains almost all of the species that are invasive in our area. There are lots of great pictures. This is available free of charge from the USDA. Information on how to order this can be found on their Website at, where there is also an on-line version available.

Invasive Plants: Weeds of the Global Garden; John M. Randall & Janet Marinelli, (editors); 1996; Brooklyn Botanic Garden: Brooklyn, N.Y; 111 pgs.; ISBN: 0-945352-956.

This book is already considered a classic in the field of non-native invasive plants. Unfortunately, its treatment of ecological impact is superficial.

Ecologist's Book on Introduced Species' Destructiveness; David Pimentel (editor); 2002; CRC Press LLC: Boca Raton, FL.

This book discusses the more than 120,000 non-indigenous species that have invaded six countries, causing tens of billions of dollars in harm each year in the United States alone. It makes compelling reading. The editor-author and his 44 contributing scientist-writers are careful to note that not all introduced species have entirely deleterious effects in their new homes, and many are depended on for human sustenance. Some 98 percent of the U.S. food supply comes from introduced species, such as corn, wheat, rice and other crops, as well as cattle, poultry and other livestock.

The Once and Future Forest: A Guide to Forest Restoration Strategies; Leslie Jones Sauer, Ian McHarg; 1998; Island Press; 350 pgs.; ISBN: 1-559635-525.

This book tells you about the environment in a scientific but understandable manner, and suggests ways you can make a difference. Although only two chapters mention invasive exotics in their title, the whole book is an explanation of how natural ecosystems work, and how various kinds of human activities disrupt them, opening them to invasion by exotics and further disruption, which in turn..... You will never look at a large, green lawn with admiration again! Part I covers how ecosystems work and how they become degraded, Part II is about restoration. It is extremely informative, particularly in regard to ecology.

Alien Species in North America and Hawaii: Impacts on Natural Ecosystems; George W. Cox; 1999; Island Press: Washington, DC; 387 pgs.; ISBN: 1-55963-680-7.

This book describes the process whereby exotic species have become dispersed and makes a persuasive argument that a strong exotic species management program is essential for sustainability of natural systems. There is a chapter on Eastern forests. Anyone who manages large units of land, or is simply interested in this topic, will find this book interesting and useful.

Other Useful Books

A Sand County Almanac; Aldo Leopold; 1991; Ballantine Books; ISBN: 0-3453-4505-3.

First published in 1949, shortly after the author's death, A Sand County Almanac is a classic. It is one of the most influential books about nature ever published. Leopold's view was that it is a human duty to preserve as much wild land as possible as a kind of bank for the biological future of all species.

Finding Wildflowers in the Washington-Baltimore Area; Cristol Fleming, Marion Blois Lobstein, and Barbara Tufty; 1995; Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore; 312 pgs.; ISBN: 0-8018-4995-0.

An extremely useful guide for finding native plants within easy driving distance of the Washington, DC / Baltimore metropolitan area as well as a few spots on the Chesapeake's Eastern Shore and in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It gives clear directions to many little known areas and describes, by season, the plants one is likely to find there. This book can keep you busy for many many weekends of wild flower exploration.

A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants: Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series); Steven Foster, Roger Tory Peterson, James A. Duke; 1998; Houghton Mifflin: Boston; ISBN: 0-39592-0663.

This can not be used as a general identification book since its key is a confusing combination of flower type, habitat and overall growth habit. It can, however, be used for final identification in combination with an ID book. It describes in a general way the medical uses of specific species by groups such as Native American and early settlers but is not explicit on exactly how the plant was used.

Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany; Michael J. Balick, Paul Alan Cox; 1997; W H Freeman & Co; 256 pages; ISBN: 0-71676-0274.

Ethnobotanists Cox and Balick share two decades of experience living with the indigenous peoples of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia, conducting fieldwork in the study of how people use plants. The result of their efforts details a story of human culture in relationship to the plants they have traditionally used for medicinal, recreational, and ornamental purposes. These two leading ethnobotanists argue that human cultural origins are inter-woven with plants. They examine everything from the prehistoric use and gathering of plants by hunter-gatherers to modern times.

The Butterfly Garden: Turning Your Garden, Window Box, Or Backyard Into A Beautiful Home For Butterflies; Mathew Tekulski; 1985; Harvard Common Press; ISBN: 0-916782-69-7.

A complete manual on how to attract butterflies to your garden or backyard by planting common plants and flowers that butterflies use for nectar, food, and pollination. It includes butterflies and plants specific to each region.

American Wildlife and Plants, A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits; Alexander C. Martin, Herbert S. Zim, A. L. Nelson; 1951, republished 1985; Dover Publications; 500 pgs.; 0-486-20793-5.

Lists the food and feeding habits of more than 1,000 species of birds and mammals, together with their distribution in America, their migratory habits, and the most important native plant-animal relationships. Based on research conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Final chapter ranks plants according to their wildlife value.

Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America (Peterson Field Guide Series); Lee Allen Peterson; 1977; Houghton Mifflin: Boston.

Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden; Xerces Society; 1998; Sierra Club Books: San Francisco; 192 pgs.; ISBN: 0871569752.

Other Book Lists

The West Virginia Eastern Panhandle Native Plant Society also has a good on-line book list.

Where to Buy These Books

Some of the more recent and popular books can be purchased at any of the mega-bookstores like Borders, Barns & Noble, or These books plus the less common or more specialized ones are often available locally in the Washington, DC / Baltimore area at these stores.

Adkins Arboretum

12610 Eveland Road
Ridgely, Maryland 21660

The library at Adkins Arboretum contains some of the out-of-print and hard-to-find books listed here.

Audubon Naturalist Society

8940 Jones Mill Road
Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815

Their book store has a large selection of natural history books and field guides. They try to always have both of the Brown & Brown identification volumes available.

Irvine Natural Science Center

8400 Greenspring Avenue
Stevenson, MD 21153
Fax: 410-484-3573

A good selection of books. The Center is convenient to people in Baltimore or the northern part of the state.

Maryland Book Exchange

4500 College Avenue
College Park, MD 20740

They have many of the books on this list; plus it is also a source for used books.


Since you are already on line you could try one of the big Internet consortiums of used book dealers. These are an excellent source of used and hard to find books. Bibliofind loads and searches faster; Bookfinder is slow but may be more comprehensive; they're all good, dependable, and easy to use.

© Maryland Native Plant Society. PO Box 4877, Silver Spring, MD 20914. Contact Us.
MNPS is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization incorporated in Maryland. 
Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software