Native Plant Finders

Updated 2022-03-03

A list of native plant finders and databases, focussed on resources for New York City's ecological regions (ecoregions). These are resources that help you identify plants that might be suitable for your garden or another project. To learn where you can acquire the plants, see Sources for Native Plants

There is no single resource that meets all needs. Here I try to highlight the strengths and drawbacks of each.

New York State

I use this as my authority on botanical names and native status in New York state and the counties (boroughs) of New York City.

Search/Filter Features
  • Botanical or Common Name, Genus, or Family
  • Accepted Names or Synonyms/Deprecated names
  • By County, e.g.: "Kings" for Brooklyn
  • Nativity or Naturalized Status
  • Wetland Status
  • Listing Status and Rank, e.g.: Endangered, S4
  • Habitat for most species, but not all.
  • Can export results to Excel with selected or all fields

New York Region

Garden Plant FinderNative Plant Trust (formerly New England Wildflower Society)

Search/Filter Features
  • Plant type, e.g.: tree, perennial
  • Maximum height and width, important search criteria for small urban gardens
  • Ecoregion
  • Cultivation status: species, selection (of straight species), cultivar
  • Horticultural attributes: Exposure, Soil, landscape use, Ornamental Interest
  • Tolerance of challenging conditions, including Urban Environment, Soil Compaction, Deer Resistance.
  • Wildlife, e.g.: bees, host plant 
GoBotany, Native Plant Trust (formerly New England Wildflower Society)
Provides identification keys, which is helpful for identifying native weeds in the garden, e.g.: Oxalis dillenii. Includes Habitat information for all species, filling in gaps of the New York Flora Atlas.

United States and Canada

National Wildlife Federation (NWF)

Focuses on host plants for butterflies and moths. You provide your zip code to start the search. There are two searches: Plants, or "Butterflies" (i.e.: all Lepidoptera, including moths and skippers, not just butterflies). Each retuns a prioritized list.

Plant Search returns a list of suitable genera, grouped as Flowers and Grasses, and Trees and Shrubs. In each group, genera are ordered by the number of Lepidotera species. Click a Genus to find a list of species native to your area, accompanied by a top 15 list of species they support.

Butterflies Search returns a list of species that feed on suitable plant species in your area. The species are ordered by specialization: species that feed on only one species are listed first.

Audubon Society (added 2022-02-26)

Their Web site is rife with annoying pop-ups for you to donate money, both on the landing page and on every click. If you can tolerate that (I can't), you can get to some good information.

You can bypass all of that by directly entering your Zi Code in the URL, e.g.: 10001 is the Zip Code for the West side of mid-town Manhattan:

You can view a recommended list or all results. You can also filter by type of plant, resources they provide, type of birds they attract, keyword, or combinations. You will need to refer to other sources for details about habitat, etc.

Pollinator Partnership (Added 2022-02-26)

Search by Zip Code, or the first three letters of a Canadian postal code. Returns a PDF Planting Guide for your EcoRegion, selected for value as host plants for insects, including flower visitors, herbivores, and nesters.

Federal Highway Administration (U.S.) (added 2022-03-03)

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