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Overlooked Species

Swamp Loosestrife, Decodon verticillates a short emergent shrub adapted to growing in shallow water, commonly found rimming small lakes in the lower peninsula.  Stems may reach 3’ above the water before arching down.  Once the tip contacts the water it will root.  This growth habit allows Decodon to colonize shorelines and form dense stands.  Swamp Loosestrife is a good choice for many low to medium energy shoreline applications. Sometimes referred to as whorled loosestrife for the leaves and purple flowers arranged in whorls along its stem. The leaves turn vibrant orange and red in the fall.  

Wildtype is currently propagating approximately 300 plant species but only a small number are regularly used by our customers.   We feel that the majority of the plants we grow are underutilized and we are going to start highlighting a few of these species from time to time.

Choke Cherry, Prunus virginiana considered among our most pedestrian of native species but undeservedly so.  It provides a big splash of spring flowers which give way to cherries that are devoured by birds in mid to late summer.  As the name implies the fruit is astringent and not palatable to humans.  This is a suckering shrub or small tree and can be used both formally in the landscape or for naturalizing areas.  It can take full sun or part shade and is broadly adapted.  

Swamp Rose, Rosa palustris is a common wetland shrub in Michigan.  It is upright in form and produces determinate and fragrant single pink blossoms. The hips often persist well into the winter providing interest, and food & shelter for wildlife.  Well suited to full sun and most wet and damp soils.

Lizard’s Tail, Saururus cernuus is typically found in floodplains and deciduous swamps in southern lower MI.  It is a perennial adapted to regular flooding and inundation and can grow in full sun and in dense shade. This species is generally less than 3’ tall and wide but where it is found naturally it commonly forms dense stands. Attractive white and mildly fragrant curled flower spikes (the “lizard tail”) form in late summer and fall. This species should be used more often on sites with shallow standing water or on soils that never dry out.  Lizard’s Tail is well suited to some rain garden applications, detention basins, wetland mitigations and shoreline projects.  

Wild Senna, Senna hebecarpa is a robust perennial that is typically found on moist sites in lower Michigan but can be grown on upland sites on a variety of soil types.  Senna is bushy and grows 4 to 6 feet tall.  This is a leguminous plant that bears copious yellow flowers in the summer with black anthers that gives it a very striking appearance.  Senna is attractive as a nectaring plant for many insects and forms long brownish-black seed pods in the fall.

American Bladdernut, Staphylea trifolia is a highly ornamental suckering shrub, growing 8 to 12 feet tall. This species has several attributes that make it well suited for many landscape applications.  Its stems are vertical and create a narrow silhouette allowing it to be used in many confined spaces, the suckering stems can be easily removed without harming the plant. Hanging clusters of cream-colored flowers grace the branches in spring and give way to ornamental lantern shaped fruits (unfortunately referred indelicately as bladders).  

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