Generate Native Plants List

The USDA has excellent online guidance for finding plants native to your state and even your county. The following tutorial with screen shots will help you use their website to identify suitable plants for your project. You may want to visit a nearby native plant nursery to see what’s available. If no native plant nursery is nearby, you’ll have to cross-reference what’s available in your area with this database.

Always avoid invasive plants. Some of these, such as perwinkle (vinca minor or major), English ivy, and yellowflag iris may be sold at your local nursery. For more information, visit the Oregon Department of Agriculture Plant Division’s Noxious Weed Profiles.



Go online to the USDA PLANTS Database at: In the upper left hand corner click on “Advanced Search”.


We’re going to pick and choose a few different items on the “Advanced Search and Download” web page. Not all search options need attention. For any of these scroll menus, you may have to click outside the box in white space to get your choice to “stick”.

Start by scrolling down under “1. Distribution” to “County Distribution” and choose your county. Scroll down to Oregon:Marion. (For better viewing, the left navigation bar has been cropped from the rest of the screen shots.)


Scroll down under “2. Taxonomy” to “National Common Name” and click the checkbox to the right that says “Display”.


Scroll down under “3. Ecology” to “Duration” and choose “Perennial”.


Go to the next item under “3. Ecology” to “Native Status” and choose “—L48 Native”.


Scroll down (or up) to the “Display Results” button and click on it.


A list (partially shown here) of all plants native to Marion County in Oregon with their common names is generated:


To narrow the search to certain types of plant, like shrubs and trees, click on the “Back” button or back arrow of your internet browser.

Selections that might be appropriate to plant in a rain garden or your landscape area are:

  • Forb/herb  (flowering plants that aren’t grasses, sedges, & rushes)
  • Graminoid (grasses, sedges, & rushes)
  • Shrub
  • Subshrub
  • Tree
  • Vine


Scroll down to “3. Ecology” and “Growth Habit”.

For this example, choose “Forb/herb”. (To choose more than one selection at a time in any of these lists, hold down the “Ctrl” button on your computer while scrolling and clicking. Once you’re done selecting, you can double check your selections by letting go of the Ctrl button and scrolling around to see if more than one selection is highlighted.


Your previous choices should still be selected. Scroll to “Review Selections or Sort Report” button in the middle or bottom of the page and click this to see what criteria you’ve entered so far.


After you click, you’ll see all your criteria listed.


Now click the “Display Results” button at the bottom of this page.


This list (partially shown) is narrowed to native, perennial flowering plants in Marion County in Oregon.


To narrow your search to find plants appropriate for different moisture zones, navigate back twice to the original Advanced Search and Download Page and scroll to “4. Legal Status” and look for “National Wetland Indicator Status”. Click the back button on your browser twice to the “Advanced Search and Download” page. Scroll to “4. Legal Status” and under “National Wetland Indicator Status”. Holding down the Ctrl button throughout, choose “—FACW (Facultative Wetland)”, then scroll down and click on “—FAC+ (Facultative +)”.


The different moisture zones of a rain garden (base, slope, top) can be correlated to National Wetland Indicator Status as follows:

Planting zones reflect the areas where the garden will have the most and least water when flooded, as well as during the dry season. The graphic on the top illustrates the topographic zones of the rain garden, the graphic on the bottom illustrates zones of high and low soil moisture and the corresponding National Wetland Indicator Status. (Graphic: Robert Emanuel, OSU).


Let’s review our choices by clicking on the “Review Selections or Sort Report” button.


Click on the “Display Results” button at the bottom of this page.


You’ll see all the flowering, native, perennial plants native to Marion County, CA that are appropriate for the wettest zones of a rain garden.

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