Coral bells (Heuchera richardsonii). Photo: Mervin Wallace

Salt-Tolerant Native Plants

During the winter months, using salt on roadways and sidewalks has the potential to result in plant injury. Plants suffer through aerial drifting from fast-moving vehicles as well as leaching of salt into the root zone. The lack of flowering on deciduous plants, needle browning on conifers, and twig dieback on woody shrubs and trees, especially on the side of the plant that faces the road or sidewalk, are signs of salt sensitivity. The amount and kind of salt applied on sidewalks, roadways, and parking lots are other factors that determine salt-tolerance of plants. The plants listed below are native to the lower Midwest and have been found to have moderate to high salt tolerance.

Wildflowers & Grasses

Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.)

Barren strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides)

Beardtongue (Penstemon spp.)

Bee balm; wild bergamot (Monarda bradburiana & Monarda fistulosa)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Blue sage (Salvia azurea)

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)

Broom sedge (Andropogon virginicus)

Shining blue star (Amsonia illustris)

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Coral bells (Heuchera richardsonii & Heuchera americana)

Golden Alexanders (Zizia spp.)

Goldenrods, showy & stiff (Solidago speciosa & Oligoneuron rigidum)

Grama grasses (Bouteloua spp.)

Helen’s flower or sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale)

Hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Horsetail (Equisetum hyemale)

Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Lance-leaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata)

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Mexican hat (Ratibida pinnata)

Milkweeds, butterfly & marsh/swamp (Asclepias tuberosa & Asclepias incarnata)

Missouri evening primrose (Oenothera macrocarpa)

Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana)

Phlox (Phlox spp.)

Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa)

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea)

Rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium)

River oats (Chasmanthium latifolium)

Rose verbena (Glandularia canadensis)

Rough blazing star (Liatris aspera)

Rushes, soft & path (Juncus effusus & Juncus tenuis)

Sedges, globe & fox (Carex grayii & Carex vulpinoidea)

Tollway sedge (Carex praegracilis) (native to western states; adventive in lower Midwest)

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

Wild indigos, blue & Cream (Baptisia australis & Baptisia bractea)

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Trees & Shrubs

American plum (Prunus americana)

Ash, white & green (Fraxinus americana & Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)

Black gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

Black walnut (Juglans nigra)

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Clove currant (Ribes odoratum)

Deciduous holly or possumhaw (Ilex decidua)

Eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)

Lead plant; indigo bush (Amorpha canescens & Amorpha fruticosa)

Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus)

Leatherwood (Dirca palustris)

New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus)

Northern catalpa (Catalpa speciosa)

Oaks (Quercus spp.)

Prairie willow (Salix humilis)

Red buckeye (Aesculus pavia)

River birch (Betula nigra)

Shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

St. John’s wort (Hypericum prolificum)

Sumacs (Rhus spp.)

Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

Thornless honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis)

Viburnums (Viburnum spp.)

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

Yucca (Yucca filamentosa)

Vines

American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans)

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Find sources of the native plants listed above from Grow Native! professional members through our online Resource Guide.

Sources: MSD Landscape Guide for Greener Stormwater Infrastructure, Salt-Tolerant Natives by Greenscape Gardens, Minnesota Stormwater Plant Index, Salt Tolerant Native Plants by the JFNew 2007 Resource Catalog, Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America by Gary L. Hightshoe, Winter Salt Injury & Salt-Tolerant Landscape Plants by the University of Wisconsin-Extension