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Virginia Wildlife Habitat

Information about habitat for native Virginia wildlife, including sources of native plants

Habitat starts with plants, so most of the resources below are for native plants. While some wildlife species are generalists and take advantage of diverse plants and other ecosystem conditions to survive and reproduce, others rely on only one or a few plant species. 

This list is a work in progress and is being added to through contributions of many individuals and organizations (see list at right). Please feel free to add suggestions in the comment box at the bottom of the page, or send your suggestions to Pam Owen at Wild Ideas.

Wildlife Habitat Resources

Pam's Virginia Native Plant List

Click here to go to a Virginia native-plant database I compiled with the help from several sources. 

Virginia Native Plant Society: includes a  list of Virginia nurseries specializing in local native plants.

USFWS Native Plant Center: A database for native plants based on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's great local guide Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping—Chesapeake Bay Watershed, also downloadable from the site.

Flora of Virginia ProjectLots of plant information and a chance to preorder Flora of Virginia (to be published in fall 2012)the first manual of Virginia's plants since 1762's Flora Virginica.

Va. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation Natural Heritage Program: The Native Plants for Conservation, Restoration, and Landscaping page includes a link to the searchable Native Plant Finder database, loaded with information on native plants.

NatureServe ExplorerA database of NatureServe, in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network, that has information on more than 50,000 plants, animals, and ecological communities of the United States and Canada, Includes  information on rare and endangered species, as well as common plants and animals.

Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries: Lots of links to native-plant information and a list of plants recommended for wildlife. Includes instructions on how to create a butterfly garden and information on habitat  programs, including Habitat Partners©. This program "encourages corporate landowners, private farm owners, schools, and homeowners to improve habitat in their community that will benefit Virginia’s songbirds, mammals, amphibians, and other wildlife." Includes  a link to the downloadable guide Habitat at Home©.

Natural Resources Conservation Service Plants Database: This searchable database has information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories, with lots of photos." 

US Environmental Protection Agency's Mid-Atlantic Green Landscaping: Lots of links to sites with information about native plants, including plant sales and state-specific native-plant organizations.

Piedmont Environmental Council: Includes local sources of plants and lots of other information.

The University of Texas at Austin Lady Bird Johnson Wildlife Center: It's Native Plant Database includes information on distribution of native plants among other informaiton.

National Wildlife Federation's Garden for Wildlife: Includes American Beauties Native Plants®, a partnership with garden centers "in select locations across the United States to carry a special line of American Beauties Native help make shopping for native plants easier." Also has ready-to-plant landscape plans and a top-10 list of native plants by region.

PlantNative: Has a regional list of native plants for Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia.

Jones Nature Preserve: Bruce and Susan Jones have worked for years to naturalize their property in Rappahannock County, from wetlands to meadows, to woodlands and bird thickets. They have published a website to share what they've learned. 

Print References

A Field Guide to Eastern Forests: North America (Peterson Field Guide), by John C. Kricher: Not only does this guide have great information about our forest ecosystems, it also is a really good read, one of the best among field guides.

A Field Guide to Wildflowers: Northeastern and North-Central North America (Peterson Field Guides), by Roger Tory Peterson 

American Wildlife & Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits, by Alexander C. Martin, Herbert S. Zim, and Arnold L. Nelson: The first edition was published in 1951, and Dover published a reprint in 1961. A list of just the plants of highest wildlife value, which is included in the book, is also available for free in Google Books, as Appendix B to Urban wildlife habitats: a landscape perspective, by Lowell W. Adams. While a lot more research has been done on wildlife and their relationship to native plants since these books were published, this list is still really useful.

Bringing Nature Home, by Doug Tallamy; includes lists of native plants that are important or required by pollinators, such as butterflies and bees.

Flora of Virginia (to be published in fall 2012), Flora of Virginia Project; preorder at or call (817) 332-4441, ext. 232.

Forest Plants of the Southeast and Their Wildlife Uses, by James H. Miller and Karl V. Miller. Lots of photos and information, including information about use to specific wildlife species. 

Gardening with Native Plants of the South, by Sally Wasowski and Andy Wasowski.

Habitat at Home©; downloadable from the Va. Dept. of Game and Inland Fisheries (

Native Gardening in the South, by Bill Fontenot.

National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Southeastern States, by Peter Alden.

Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping—Chesapeake Bay Watershed, by USFWS (downloadable from, among other websites, or call 1-800-344-WILD); includes lists of plants for special purposes, including specific soil or water conditions and deer resistance.

Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast: Landscaping Uses and Identification, by Samuel B. Jones, Leonard Foote.

Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards, by Sara Stein.

The Book of Swamp and Bog: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern Freshwater Wetlands, by John Eastman. Gives thorough descriptions of native wetland plants, including wildlife uses.

The Book of Forest and Thicket: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North Americanby John Eastman. Gives thorough descriptions of native plants in forests and thickets, including wildlife uses.

The Wildlife Garden, by Charlotte Seidenberg, with Jean Seidenberg.

Woody Plants of Maryland, Brown, Russell G.; Melvin W. Brown.

Woody Plants of the Blue Ridge, Lance, Ron.

Mail-order Nurseries Specializing in Native Plants

(Also check out the resources above for lists of local native-plant sources, including the Virginia Native Plant Society's list of nurseries.)