Kennebec County Soil & Water Conservation District

to protect and enhance Maine's soil and water resources by providing educational programs, conservation information and technical assistance to municipalities, schools, landowners and residents of Kennebec County."


 For more information on any of these plants use this link: PLANTS DATABASE


Click on Common Name for a picture of the plant

 Christmas Fern  (Polystichum acrostichoides)  Grows 1 to 2 feet.  Evergreen fern with once-divided, leathery, dark-green foliage.  Forms large clumps, 2 to 3 feet across.  Good on rocky, woodland hillsides.  Part-sun to shade.  Moist, well-drained soil.  Zone 3  N

 Cinnamon Fern  (Osmunda cinnamomea)  Grows to 3 feet.  Vigorous, spreading to form large, vase-shaped clumps.  Large, doubly-divided fronds are light-green in spring and dark-green by fall.  Fertile fronds are fuzzy, cinnamon-brown.  Very hardy.  Full sun to shade.  Moist, acid, highly organic soil best.  Only tolerates full sun if plenty of moisture.  Zone 3  N

 Hay-scented Fern  (Dennstaedtia punctiloba)  Vigorously spreading fern grows to 12 inches wiith light-green, finely-divided fronds.  Foliage sweet-scented when crushed.  Versatile fern grows in many soils and tolerates drought.  Found in clearings and on rocky slopes.  Part-sun to shade.  Moist, well-drained soil.  Drought tolerant.  Zone 3  N

 Interrupted Fern  (Osmunda claytoniana)  Grows 3 to 4 feet in large, vase-shaped clumps.  Pale-green fronds not as deeply divided as Cinnamon Fern.  Green, sterile portions of fronds are ‘interrupted’ along the stalk with brown, fertile portions.  Part-sun to shade.  Moist, acid soil.  Good, woodland fern. Zone 4  N

 Lady Fern  (Athyrium felix-femina)  One of the only ferns offered in different varieties.  Grows in clumps 2 to 3 feet tall with lacy, pale-green, arching fronds.  Found in moist, partly-shady areas but tolerates more sun and dry soil than most ferns.  Part-sun to shade.  Moist, rich soil best.  Zone 4  N

 Ostrich Fern  (Matteucia struthiopteris)  Known for its fiddleheads in the spring.  Grows to 4 feet.  Large, upright, coarse-textured fronds.  Found in swamps and moist woods.  Part-sun to shade.  Rich, moist to wet soil.  Zone 3  N

 Royal Fern  (Osmunda regalis)  Beautiful, stately, vigorous fern with branching, pale to bright-green fronds, depending on the amount of light.  Grows 2 to 6 feet (tallest in wet conditions).  Spreads slowly.  Full sun to shade.  Best in part-sun to shade.  Wet soils but not submerged.  Zone 3  N

 Sensitive Fern  (Onoclea sensibilis)  Interesting fern with completely separate fertile fronds often used in dried arrangements.  Grows 1 to 2 feet in moist soil.  Fronds pale to deep-green and twice-divided with fertile fronds brown with persistent, bead-like spore cases along the stalk.  Full sun to shade.  Moist to almost wet soil.  Zone 3  N



 Bulrushes  (Scirpus sp.)  Many species of tall (4 to 6 feet high) grass-like plants with long, narrow leaves and striking flower heads; some with dark-brown ‘spikelets’ and others fluffy.  Found in wet areas and shallow water.  Full to part-sun.  Wet soil, standing water.  Zones 3 to 4  N

 Bur-Reed  (Sparganium sp.)  A family of grass-like plants growing 1 to 4 feet high in shallow water with either upright or floating stems and long, narrow leaves.  Flowers are greenish-brown and followed by a bur-like ball.  Full to part-sun.  Wet soil, standing water.  Zone 3  N

 Big Bluestem  (Andropogon gerardi)  A versatile group of grasses; this species tolerant of dry, poor conditions.  Long-lived, grows 3 to 6 feet tall with lush green leaves that turn red in fall and bluish-purple stems.  Flower and seed heads branch into 3 parts.  Needs extra care to get established but forms excellent cover once established.  A common prairie grass.  Full sun.  Moist to dry soil.  Tolerates poor, dry, sandy soil.  Zone 3  N

 European Dunegrass  (Elymus glaucus)  Native to western America.  Grows to 2 feet.  Vigorously spreading, ornamental grass.  Good for erosion control on sandy, dune areas.  Tolerates drought and salt.  Good for bank stabilization.  Highly aggressive.  Blue-gray, arching foliage and green to yellow flower clusters in late summer.  Full sun.  Well-drained, sandy soil.  Zone 4

 Manna Grass  (Glyceria aquatilis)  Spreading, cultivated grass for damp areas.  Grows to 3 feet with slender, arching, white and yellow variegated foliage.  Native species grow in marshes, shallow water and wet areas.  Full sun.  Wet soil.  Zone 3 

 Reed Grass  (Calamagrostis canadensis)  Also called Canada Bluejoint Grass.  Other species and varieties are available.  Grows 2 to 4 feet.  A typical, upright, attractive grass.  Spreads slowly to form clumps.  Some varieties are more vigorous.  Slender stems and flower heads.  Does well in wet soil and is a good soil stabilizer.  Full sun.  Moist, fertile soil.  Good near water.  Zone 3  N

 Ribbon Grass  (Phalaris arundinacea var. picta)  Also called Reed Canary Grass.  Cultivated from a native grass.  Vigorous and ornamental with green and white striped, arching leaves and narrow clusters of flowers in summer.  Can be invasive.  Grows 2 to 3 feet.  Does best in full sun and moist, fertile soil.  Does well close to water.  Tolerates some shade.  Zone 4  (N)

 Switch Grass  (Panicum virgatum)  Several varieties.  Grows 4 to 7 feet in thick, spreading clumps.  Good for wildlife and birds.  Typical long, narrow leaves and decorative, feathery flower heads.  Holds shape throughout winter.  Needs 1 or 2 years to become established.  Full sun.  Tolerates poor, acid, sandy, dry soil.  Heat and drought tolerant.  Zones 3 to 5  N



 Note:  The vines listed here are ones that make good ground covers in particular.  There are many more climbing vines that could be added to a buffer simply for variation and to add dimension.  Check for ones that do not overwhelm other vegetation. 

 Boston Ivy  (Parthenocissus tricuspidata veitchi)  Dense, climbing or sprawling vine with maple leaf-shaped ,glossy, dark-green leaves that turn crimson in the fall.  Tolerates dry conditions once established.  Sun to part-sun.  Moist to dry soil.  Zone 4

 English Ivy  (Hedera helix)  Low-maintenance, dense, evergreen vine with broad, glossy, dark-green leaves.  Many varieties are available.  It climbs things or trails along the ground.  Sun to shade.  Moist to dry soil.  Tolerates some drought.  Zone 4

 Sweet Pea  (Lathyrus latifolius)  Vigorous, flowering vine good on rocky slopes.  Easy to grow once established.  Forms a 2 to 3 foot thick mat of vegetation making it good for erosion control on poor, sandy or rocky slopes.  Also good food and cover for birds and wildlife.  Typical pea-like vines and leaves and long-blooming, showy white to pink to red flowers.  Blooms summer to fall.  Sun to part-sun.  Moist, well-drained soil best but tolerates poor, sandy, clayey soils.  Zone 3

 Virginia Creeper  (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)  Also called Woodbine.  Rapid growth.  Spreads vigorously; can be invasive.  Good as ground cover over rocky slopes.  Deep-green, palmately-divided leaves turn crimson in fall.  Bluish, black berries in fall.  Good for birds.  Sun to shade.  Adaptable to most soils.  Zone 3  N