What Makes a Plant a Virginia Native?

In North America, plant species are generally described as native if they occurred here prior to European settlement. This distinction is made because of the large-scale changes that have occurred since the arrival of the European settlers. Native plant species have evolved within specific regions and been dispersed throughout their range without known human involvement. These plants form the primary structure of the living landscape and provide food and shelter for native animal species, including migratory birds and pollinators.


In November of 2012, the Flora of Virginia was released.  It is the first comprehensive reference work on the native and naturalized plants of Virginia, and describes 3,164 plant species or lower taxa in nearly 200 families, accompanied by 1,400 original, captioned, scaled, and botanically accurate illustrations. The taxonomic approach is cutting-edge, based on genetic research that renders other floras for the region obsolete. Plant identification is driven by a series of dichotomous keys.  Read more about the Flora of Virginia Project.

Regional Native Plant Lists

All plants highlighted in the regional native plant marketing campaigns are native to these regions according to the Digital Atlas of Virginia Flora.  

See the regional native plant campaign pages for regional native plant lists for the Eastern Shore, Northern Virginia, Northern Neck, Southeast Virginia, Central Rappahannock, and the Virginia Capital Region.