Wild Wonders: Celebrating the Native Plants of the Catskills

The wild forests and mountain ranges of the Catskills are home to a plethora of unique and interesting native plant species. On February 15th, 2022 Catskill Mountainkeeper joined experts on our native ecology for a virtual tour of Mountain Top Arboretum, and a conversation about where to purchase native plants and how to introduce them around our homes. Our panelists for this webinar were:  

  • Marc Wolf, Director of Mountain Top Arboretum; and
  • John Thompson, Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) Coordinator at the Catskill Center.

Click "Read More" for a fantastic resource list, native plants list, and responses to all the questions we weren't able to answer due to time constraints.

Watch the Full Webinar HERE!

Native Plant Information and Resources

The following links are great places to start your search for native plants and learn more about the unique role each species plays in our Catskills ecosystem. Keep scrolling for our panelists’ responses to our Q&A. As requested, we’ve also included a list of the many plant species that can be found at different sites within Mountain Top Arboretum. 

Catskill Native Nursery 

Barkaboom Native Plants

DEC Tree Nursery

Cornell Cooperative Extension (by local office)


WEBINAR Q & A

Can anyone visit the arboretum? 

Yes, anyone can visit. You can find hours and directions here

Where do you source your native plants from? Do you ever direct sow seeds?

We only direct sow on bare soil that may have been disturbed. We are working on a project to direct sow seed in the near future.

Are there any endangered species in the Arboretum?

The Arboretum does not have naturally occurring endangered plant species.

What sort of interesting native plants are in the bog? Are there any insectivorous plants?

The bog has typical woodland wetland plants that tolerate acidic soils. There are Drosera rotundifolia (insectivorous sundews) growing in Hidden Marsh.

How tall does the speckled alder grow?

Michael Dirr, a source I trust, says 15-25'. Ours grow to 8-15'

How can we avoid introducing invasives like jumping worms?

If you don't already have invasive jumping worms, you need to be very careful about bringing in any mulch or soil and don't bring in any of unknown origin. If you want to add plantings, seeds are safe. You could plant bare root stock, but the jumping worm cocoons can stick to roots and are difficult to see. The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) has more resources here. You can also visit Mountainkeeper’s website to watch a recorded webinar made in partnership with CRISP which is dedicated to the topic of jumping worms.

In selecting exotics for the gardens, do you make certain that they are not invasive?

Yes, though one must keep an eye on them in case a non-invasive exotic becomes invasive. Alternative plants can be found here.

What are some of the plants that can compete with Asian Honeysuckle?

If you find out, please let us know! That is a tough plant to outcompete. We have not come up with an answer.

Do you have resources for landscaping when the land is at the water table, or when lots of large puddles after a rain need to be redirected?

The handout will have some plants that can take pooling of water. I can't think of a resource to recommend specifically for plants in wet areas. Leopold's Native Plants of the Northeast is a good place to start, though it's not only wetland plants.

What are some good deer resistant plants?

Flowering plants that deer don't prefer include bergamots, alliums, and jack in the pulpit. Including less palatable species with a good deer fence is the best way to preserve your plantings. Learn more about gardening with deer here, and look out for a recording of Mountainkeeper’s Oh Deer webinar with the Cary Institute, which we are working to make available in the near future.

Do most native plants grow on clay which will form most of my new garden?

All plants have different site requirements, though many native species are adapted to clay soils.

Are there plants you would eliminate for planting at lower elevations, e.g., 1000 ft

None that I can think of. I think they'd all do fine at 1,000 elevation.

Is ‘toothache plant’/’eyeball plant’ considered a native? We have it in Bethel NY, it's beautiful but not sure how it got here.

Apparently from a quick web search it is native to South America.

What’s your opinion of Burning Bush? Foreign & invasive, yet an arborist told me it’s ok?

Burning bush is a regulated invasive in NYS. Alternatives can be found here.


Mountain Top Arboretum Education Center Planting Areas List

(updated 9-20-19 / corrected 6/12/20) 

Barn North 

Betula papyrifera 

Carpinus caroliniana 

Sassafras albidium 

Ceonothus americanus  

Comptonia peregrina 

Diervilla lonicera 

Viburnum cassinoides  

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias verticillata 

Symphyotrichum ‘Snowflurry’ 

Danthonia spicata 

Monarda fistulosa 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium  

Zizia aurea 

 

Rain Garden 1 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias incarnata 

Symphiotrichum novi-belgii 

Carex grayi 

Carex rosea 

Carex vulpinoidea 

Chelone glabra 

Iris versicolor 

Juncus effusus 

Juncus tenuis 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Lysimachia terrestris 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

Scirpus atrovirens 

Scirpus cyperinus 

Verbena hastata 

Zizia aurea  

 

Rain Garden 2 

Carpinus caroliniana 

Carex grayi 

Carex rosea 

Carex vulpinoidea 

Chelone glabra 

Gentiana andrewsii 

Geum rivale 

Juncus effusus 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

 

Rain Garden 3 & 4 

Carex grayi 

Carex rosea 

Carex vulpinoidea 

Gentiana andrewsii 

Geum rivale 

Houstonia caerulea 

Juncus effusus 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Mimulus ringens 

Potentilla tridentata 

Saxifraga pensylvanica 

Scirpus atrovirens

 

Rain Garden 5 

Viburnum lentago 

Carex grayi 

Carex rosea 

Carex vulpinoidea 

Chelone glabra 

Iris versicolor 

Juncus effusus 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Lysimachia terrestris 

Mimulus ringens 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

Scirpus atrovirens 

Scirpus cyperinus 

Zizia aurea 

 

Rain Garden 6 

Alnus incana subsp. rugosa 

Aronia melanocarpa ‘Low Scape’ 

Cephalanthus occidentalis 

Rhododendron prinophyllum 

Asclepias incarnata

Symphiotrichum novi-belgii 

Carex grayi 

Carex rosea 

Carex vulpinoidea 

Chelone glabra 

Geum rivale 

Iris versicolor 

Juncus effusus 

Juncus tenuis 

Lobelia cardinalis 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Lysimachia terrestris 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

Scirpus atrovirens 

Scirpus cyperinus 

Verbena hastata 

Zizia aurea

 

Fir tree path 

Rhododendrun prinophyllum 

Carex appalichica 

Deschampsia flexuosa 

Penstemon hirsutis 

Symphyotrichum divaricatus 

Tiarella cordifolia 

 

Ahrens Boulder Slope 

Aronia melanocarpa ‘Low Scape’ 

Potentilla tridentata 

Prunus depressa var. ‘Catskill’ 

Rhododendrun prinophyllum 

Antenarria neglecta 

Antnearia plantaganifolia 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Aralia racemosa 

Carex eburnea 

Danthonia spicata 

Deschampsia flexuosa 

Fragaria virginiana 

Houstonia caerulea 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

 

Sugar Maple Fir MA Road transition 

Antenarria neglecta 

Antnearia plantaganifolia 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias verticillate 

Danthonia spicata 

Fragaria virginiana 

Houstonia caerulea 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Potentilla tridentata 

Solidago bicolor 

Solidago puberula  

 

Sugar Maple 

Viburnum acerifolium 

Aralia racemosa 

Antenaria plantaginfiolia 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Carex appalachica 

Carex eburnea 

Carex pensylvanica 

Carex plantaginea 

Deschampsisa flexuosa 

Potentilla tridentata 

Solidago caesia 

Symphyotrichum cordifolia 

Symphyotrichum divaricatrus 

Tiarella cordifolia 

Viola canadensis 

Viola labradorica 

Ferns 

Athyrium angustum 

Dryopteris marginalis 

Polystichum acrostichoides 

 

EC North-Sunny area 

Prunus depressa var. ‘Catskill’ 

Comptonia peregrina 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias verticilatta 

Danthonia spicata 

Monarda fistulosa 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Solidago bicolor 

Solidago caesia 

Solidago puberula 

Symphyotrichum cordifolia 

Symphyotrichum divaricatus  

 

MA Road EC sign 

Comptonia peregrina 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias verticilatta 

Danthonia spicata 

Monarda fistulosa 

Penstemon hirsutus  

Solidago puberela 

 

Barn South 

Acer pensylvanicum 

Amelanchier ‘Autumn Brilliance’ 

Nyssa sylvatica 

Viburnum acerifolium 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Asclepias verticilata 

Carex eburnea 

Danthonia spicata 

Lobelia syphilitica 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Solidago bicolor 

Solidago puberula 

Symphyotrichum divaricatus 

Verbena hastata 

 

Edge of Parking Lot South 

Acer pensylvanicaum 

Ostraya virginiana 

Viburnum acerifolium 

Aquilegia canadensis 

Aralia racemosa  

Carex eburnea 

Carex plantaginea 

Deschampsia flexuosa 

Solicago caesia 

Symphyotrichum cordifolius 

Symphyotrichum divaricatus 

Tiarella cordifolia  

 

Ferns 

Athyrium angustum 

Dryopteris marginalis 

Polystichum acrostichoides 

 

Red Maple

Acer rubrum ‘Frank’s Red’ 

Asclepias verticilatta 

Danthonia spicata 

Lobelia siphilitica 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium  

Solidago puberula 

Verbena hastata 

 

Larch

Larix laricina

Aronia melanocarpa ‘Low Scape’

Prunus depressa var. ‘Catskill’ 

Penstemon hirsutus 

Solidago bicolor 

Danthonia spicata 

 

Sassafras 

Sassafras albidum 

Carex plantaginea 

Deschampsia flexuosa

 

Staff Entrance 

Viburnum nudum 

Asclepias verticilatta 

Pycnanthemum tenuifolium 

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