Ashevillians take pride in being ultra local, but we have to admit, we’ve got nothing on WNC’s native plants, which have evolved in our region over millions of years. Statewide, NC is home to 3,900 native plant species, and while we don’t have an exact number of how many of those exist in the 828, we’re betting it’s in the thousands.
To celebrate our city’s planty personality, we decided to have a little fun. Read on to learn about five plants native to Asheville and which section of our city best matches these plant’s vibes. Plus, we’ve got recommendations on where to find these plants for yourself.
East Asheville: Muhlenberg’s Hairgrass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
This ornamental grass, also known as Pink Hair Grass, is low-maintenance yet naturally gorgeous — just like East Asheville. It tolerates heat, humidity, drought, and poor soil conditions with grace – and boasts an electric pink bloom in the late summer.
West Asheville: Turk’s Cap Lily (Lilium superbum)
We all know West Asheville likes to do things a little differently, and so does the Turk’s Lily Cap. We honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a West Ashevillian wearing these showy, orange-red wildflowers as hats, earrings, or some other kind of jewelry.
North Asheville: Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
Both the northside and this iconic Southern Appalachian plant brim with history, beauty, and a little bit of gnarliness (looking at you, Merrimon Ave.). But the dazzling, delicate, tea cup-like petals of this native shrub more than make up for the dense, twisty patches it creates.
South Asheville: Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Like former City Editor Ali McGhee says, South Asheville is a place of hidden gems. The magical foamflower, with its intricate foliage + delicate white flowers, is a lovely example of that.
Downtown: Downy serviceberry(Amelanchier arborea)
Just like downtown, the serviceberry tree is a culinary hotbed — at least when its fruits are ripe for the picking from late May into June. This native edible tastes like a mild, seedy blueberry and it can be found all over the city.
Want to stock up on your own native plants? Check these local vendors:
Sow True Seed | 243 Haywood St.
Carolina Native Nursery | 1639 Prices Creek Rd., Burnsville
M R Gardens | 441 Onteora Blvd.
Reems Creek Valley Nursery | 76 Monticello Rd., Weaverville
Sandy Mush Herb Nursery | 316 Surrett Cove Rd., Leicester
WNC Farmers Market | 570 Brevard Rd.
This content is sponsored by French Broad River Academy, an independent middle school in Asheville with separate campuses for boys and girls. Now enrolling for Fall 2022, the middle school experience combines academics, outdoors, service, and travel.