Beautiful, Native, and Substantive

By on August 5, 2021

Gardening With Purpose Editor Steve Montgomery Brings Us Back To Our Sustainable Native Plant Roots


Knowledge is power in so many ways. Here, we explore the many ways you can go into the woods, and with the knowledge of your surroundings, find plants to eat, plants for medicine, plants that attract birds, and find plants that are great to just look at in your garden. 

Since there’s so much information out there we’ll just discuss four categories of native plants and then reference web sites and books that will help you on your journey. Many of these plants overlap in more than one category.  

It’s imperative that you never remove plants in the wild that are not on your property, or on property where you do not have permission to forage. There are many very strict rules about foraging and plant removal on federal lands. Always best to check the rules before you dig. When you do remove something, do it with care and strive to not leave a footprint. Additionally, never consume anything that you’re not 100% sure is safe to consume. Many plants look much like others except for a small detail, you’ll need to really know one from another. A good example are mushrooms, some are very good to eat, some are hallucinogenic, and some are deadly. 

Taking a field class held by an expert to show you the many variations is highly recommended. I hosted such a class on our farm, there was so much to discuss just walking down our driveway, we never made it to the bottom. It’s amazing how many plants we can cultivate and use for food sources and medicine that are also good for bees, butterflies and their simple beauty. If you’re interested in gaining more field knowledge there are many sources on the internet or you can contact our office for additional local information.

Here are a few of my favorite resources, in each of the four categories.

Plants for Medicinal Purposes 

Pipsissewa, White Pine, Jewel Weed, Plantain, Yellow Root, Sassafras, Flowering Dogwood, Blue Vervain, Trillium, Crossvine, Hydrangea, Leather Leaf Mahonia, Purslane, Violet, Mimosa.

References:, ‘Medicinal Plants of the American Indians,’ ‘Southeast Medicinal Plants’ by Corey Pine Shane.

Plants for Food/Consumption

Dandelion, Nettle, Garlic Mustard, Wild Raspberry, Wild Blackberry, Elderberry, Wild Grapes, Amaranth, Asparagus, Cattail, Burdoch, Clovers, Chicory, Chickweed, Curled Dock, Field Perry Grass, Fireweed, Purslane, Sheep Sorrel.

References: , , 


Plants that Attract Birds

Poison Ivy, Blackberries, Wild Grasses, Elderberry, Service Berries, Oaks, Beaches, Pines, Hickories, Cherries, Cotoneaster, Dogwood, Sumac, Birches, Spruces, Hemlocks, Cornflower, Milkweed, Daisy, Holly, Coneflower, Cardinal Flower, Sunflower. 


Plants for Visual Enjoyment:

Yarrow, Asters, Blue False Indigo, Fluted Coreopsis, Joe Pye Weed, Gaura, Swamp Sunflower, Swamp Hibiscus, Yellow Flag Iris, Liatris, Cardinal Flower, Beebalm, Garden Phlox, Rudbeckia, Sage, Golden Rod, Stoke’s Aster, Columbine, Woodland Phlox, Foam Flower, Heuchera, Ferns, Carolina Jessamine, Crested Iris. 



I hope you embrace the importance and beauty of native plants in your garden and happy hunting!   ACLM


Steve Montgomery and Company has extensive knowledge in the areas of landscape, hardscape, construction of outdoor structures, water features, pools, and gardening with purpose.

Steve Montgomery and Company.

Phone: 404-966-8283 or 770-317-1484 

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