Return of the Native... Shrubs

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Published on: Apr. 2, 1998

Last revision: Oct. 28, 2010

deciduous shrub's name derives from its interesting peeling bark on older stems, the brownish outer bark contrasting with rusty to pinkish inner layers. Ninebark produces abundant clusters of small white flowers in May or June that are attractive to a variety of insects. Fruits are yellowish, dry capsules that turn reddish-brown in the fall.

Ninebark grows to a height of about 5 feet with multiple stems that spread into a rounded crown. Its appearance can benefit from regular pruning. Fall foliage varies from yellow-green to shades of pink and orange. Ninebark grows in a variety of soil and moisture conditions, but it is not shade tolerant.

Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica)

You can see this plant's resemblance to poison ivy in its leaves, but it shares none of poison ivy's toxic qualities. A deciduous shrub, fragrant sumac is available in two varieties. Variety aromatica is shorter in height (up to 4 feet) and flowers as early as late March, before its leaves emerge. The taller variety, serotina, can reach 7 feet tall and flowers after the leaves have begun to emerge.

Both types produce tight clusters of small, yellow flowers and clusters of hairy, reddish berries that mature in late summer. The shorter variety makes a good foundation planting, and you can use the taller variety for screening during the growing season. Fragrant sumac is drought tolerant and does best in full sun. Fall foliage is orange to scarlet.

Hazelnut (Corylus americana)

An American relative of the European hazelnut, or filbert, whose fruits are available commercially, our hazelnut also has an edible fruit that is relished by wildlife. Hazelnut grows as a thicket-forming shrub up to 10 feet in height. You can use hazelnuts as a border or for a mass planting. On rocky, poorer sites, hazelnuts are shorter in height but still grow well.

Flowers are inconspicuous, although the male birchlike catkins add winter interest to the leafless stems. Hazelnuts bear early autumn-maturing nuts in a cluster of overlapping leaflike bracts. Fall colors range from yellow to orange to red. Plant hazelnuts in full sun to partial shade with average moisture conditions.

Eastern Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)

One of two native witch hazels, eastern witch hazel is more tolerant of average soil moisture conditions than the streamside Ozark, or vernal, witch hazel. Both deciduous shrubs are of interest for their attractive foliage and their habit of blooming during the winter. People have used witch hazels for centuries in medicines

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