MNSP Native Plant List

The mission of the Michigan Natural Shoreline Partnership is to promote natural
shorelines through use of green landscaping technologies and bioengineered
erosion control for the protection of Michigan inland lakes; and as part of this
protection is the fact that techniques, materials, and design must inherently
benefit the ecological shoreline community. Thus, the integration of live plants
and non-living plant materials is essential to the creation of a healthy, living,
functional shoreline. This functionality depends on the characteristics of a given
plant species, their natural history, and the interactions between species.

In looking at the shoreline zones it is apparent that the littoral and “wetted edge”
(up to the Ordinary High Mark) play an integral role in maintaining ecological
health by providing specific habitat attributes. It is this zone that determines
population viability for myriad species including representative fish, reptiles,
amphibians, and certain wildlife. This interaction between plant and animal
species is dependent on the presence of native plant species to meet specific life
requirements. Further upland zones within the shoreline buffer continue to play
an important role in the structural integrity and ecological functionality of the
shoreline. It is within this zone that species which provide other design needs
become connected to the shoreline. The establishment of this shoreline buffer
zone may take a more formal landscape approach including introduction of
species for aesthetics, structural characteristics and environmental attributes, in
addition to ecological functionality.

Overall the use and selection of natives for natural shoreline designs can be
viewed as a continuum with plant/seed stock from local sources having the
greatest importance. Thus, a plant grown from seed that was taken from the
immediate area is more ecologically desirable than a plant grown from another
United States region even though they may share the same scientific name.

The following plant list has been developed to make plant selection easier.  Each of the plants on the list is native to Michigan and none are listed as threatened or endangered. Although, there are many more plants native to Michigan the plants on this list were chosen because 1) they are generally broadly adapted - meaning that they are not extremely fussy as to where they grow 2) They have a broad natural distribution around the state and 3) they are currently on the market or could easily be brought into the market.

The list has four different categories.  The first three categories are plants that are associated with aquatic and wetland habitats.  The fourth category has plants associated with an upland habitat. The plants have been placed in each category based on their suitability for the water levels and other variables such as wave action.   However, once these plants have been planted they may “move” into a different area.  This is because natural conditions at each particular site are highly variable, and each plant will find specific areas most suitable for their growth. 

  • “Below the Water Level”: These are the plants that are found in the aquatic zone.  Use these plants for planting areas within the lake.
  • “Between the Water Level and the Ordinary High Water Mark”:  These plants like it wet but do not like to actually be in the lake.  They can handle frequent water level changes ranging from being flooded for days at a time to being dry for short periods of time.  These plants are also the best ones to withstand the energy from wave action and ice push.
  • “Above the Ordinary High Water Mark”:  These plants are still considered wetland plants but they are typically further from the lake edge.  They like the soil to be consistently moist and they can handle a small amount of flooding.  They do not like the constant stress that comes from waves and ice.
  • “Upland Plants”:  These plants like dry conditions.  This section was included to provide homeowners with native plant suggestions to use in the remaining part of the landscape to allow for opportunities for a comprehensive landscape design.

Additionally, information on the amount of light, plant height, bloom time and color, special adaptive features and the tolerance level to siltation.  Siltation refers to soil particles building up in a particular area. This puts stress on plants often resulting in reduced growth or reproduction.  A “high” on the plant matrix indicates that a particular plant has a high level of tolerance to siltation.

MNSP Webmaster,
Dec 1, 2011, 12:05 PM