Native Plant List from Eloise Butler

In 1912, Eloise Butler encouraged members of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society to plant more native trees, shrubs and perennial flowers. She offered a long list, suggesting that there were native options for just about any garden. Here are the trees and shrubs she loved. The full article is available from the Minnesota Reflections archives.

Favorite Trees

  • Black alder (Ilix verticallata) has a profusion of red berries.
  • Ironwood (Ostrya virginiana) has decorative, hopslike fruit.
  • Basswood (Tillia americana) has attractive flowers and fruit.
  • Alder (Alnus incana) graceful flower clusters, decorative winter cones. It prefers low land.


  • White pine (Pinus strobus), best of its genus
  • White Spruce (Picea canadensis) at its best, surpassed by none
  • Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) forms large, dense of perpetual green. The blue, berry-like fruits are decorative.
  • Yew (Taxus canandensis) a low, evergreen bush with bright red berries. Thrives best near water.


with white flowers and white fruits

  • Dogwoods (Cornus), four species
  • Snowberry (Symphoriocarpus), a low shrub

with white flowers and red fruits

  • High bush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
  • Red-berried leder (Sambucus racemosa)
  • Juneberry (Amelanchier), four species
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus), several species
  • Mountain ash (Pyrus americana)
  • Chokeberry (Prunus virginiana)
  • Bird cherry (Prunus pennsylvanica)
  • Sand cherry (Prunus pumila), a prostrate shrub
  • Western plum (Prunus besseyi), a low shrub
  • Wild plum (Prunus nigra)

with red fruits and inconspicuous flowers

  • Burning bush — no longer recommended
  • Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) a prostrate, trailing shrub
  • Coral-berry (Symphoricarpus orbiculatus)

with white flowers and large, bladdery fruit

  • Bladder nut (Staphylea trifolia)

with white flowers and inconspicuous fruit

  • Meadow sweet
  • Spirea (Spirea salicifolia), a low shrub
  • Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius)
  • Leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), a low shrub, preferring low land
  • New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), a low shrub with panicles, feathery white flowers

with red or pink flowers and red fruit

  • Wild rose (Rosa blanda), three other species
  • Wild crabapple tree (Malus loensis), incomparable in flower
  • Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), a trailing bog plant

with pink flowers and inconspicuous fruit

  • Steeple bush (Spirea tomentosa), a low shrub
  • Twin flower (Linnaea borealis var. americana), a trailing evergreen with small leaves and fragrant flowers

with blue fruit and white flowers

  • Dogwood (Cornus circinata, C. alternifolia)
  • Dockmackie (Viburnum acerifolium)
  • Arrow-wood (Viburnum dentatum)
  • Blueberry (Vaccinum canadensis &¬† V. pennsylvanicum) — low shrubs
  • V. stamineum and V. corymobosum, high bushes — the latter a swamp plant

with blue fruit and yellow flowers

  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera coerulea)

with bluish purple flowers

  • False indigo (Amorpha fruticosa — now called Baptisia australis)

with yellow flowers and red fruit

  • Swamp fly honeysuckle (Lonicera oblongifolia)
  • Leatherwood (Dirca palustris), flowers early in the sprng before leaves appear

with yellow flowers and inconspicuous fruit

  • Bush honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera), a low shrub
  • Shrubby cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa)
  • Shrubby St. John’s wort (Hypericum prolificum)
  • Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), flowers before leaving, interesting fruit with explosive pods.

The complete list of plants was printed in the 1912 Minnesota Horticulturist.




  1. Cass Markovich on June 12, 2022 at 12:34 am

    The list of plants from 1912 was not legible to me. My eye sight needs an updated version. Please don’t take pictures of a dated page and then post, it is such too difficult for old eyes to see.

    • MSHS on June 13, 2022 at 2:58 pm

      Yes! You’re right, the list in Minnesota Reflections is tiny at first glance, but you can click on any page a couple times to zoom in and get a crystal clear, larger image. I hope this helps, Cass – it’s an old list but still useful.

  2. Jennifer Olson on June 30, 2022 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you for publishing the reference to Eloise Butler’s list that appeared in your journal in 1912. The Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden continues to be a wonderful native botanical garden, as well as a tribute to Eloise Butler, a Minneapolis high school botany teacher with a vision in 1907 to preserve the wild natural world of MN.

    • MSHS on July 1, 2022 at 2:58 pm

      Yes! You’re so welcome – glad you enjoyed this post. That garden is such a beautiful local gem, isn’t it? Thanks for commenting.

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