Native Vines for Your
Wildlife Habitats

Native Vines with other native plants once filled the fields and woodlands of the United States and Canada with a great diversity.

Most, if not all of the plants are very beneficial to wildlife.

An increasing number of landowners are interested in managing their property to benefit native wildlife, especially wild birds. Larger tracts of land are managed for game animals or simply for the pure enjoyment of native wildlife.

Wildlife populations thrive in areas where the vegetation supports animals' nutritional needs and provides them with areas to rest. Landowners can improve the wildlife habitat on their property by manipulating the native plants.

Vines play a crucial roll for habitats and wildlife from insects to deer and bear. Native vines can help prevent soil erosion, offer food and protection for all sorts of wildlife and they are naturally attractive too.

Native Honeysuckle

The biggest benefit of managing native vegetation is that you should be able to promote a wide variety of plant species, so that food will be available to wildlife all year. This is superior and more natural to traditional methods for food plots, where plants are generally available for only part of the year.

Also, native vegetation is available in large quantities that can sustain wildlife populations, whereas food plots intended to supplement native foods are usually not planted in sufficient quantities to sustain wildlife populations.

Throughout the United States and Canada, many other invasive species of vines are choking out native vegetation and harming wildlife.

Some nurseries still sell several of these villains—such as Oriental bittersweet, Porcelain berry, English ivy and Chinese wisteria to unsuspecting and uneducated gardeners.

Think Locally:

For one thing, a plant native to your region will be adapted to your climate. Secondly, many vines taken out of their natural environment can become invasive, even if they are just moved to another part of the country.

Native vine choices aren't as numerous as trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses, but they do play an important roll in your habitats.

You would think with a name like 'Boston Ivy', the plant would be native, at least from the New England area. NO, NO, NO. 'Boston Ivy' (Parthenocissus tricuspidata), is native to Asia.

Instead of planting Japanese honeysuckle, which climbs over vegetation and kills shrubs and small trees by cutting out their light, try one of the North American honeysuckles.

Another vine that attracts wildlife is 'Virginia creeper' (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), a native of the eastern half of the United States.

Many types of birds, including several species of woodpeckers, devour its small, blue-black berries. A high climber, Virginia creeper can cover walls or fences, works well growing over a brush pile and makes an excellent ground cover.

Westerners can use a similar plant called 'Woodbine (Parthenocissus inserta).

'American bittersweet' (Celastrus scandens) is another example of a native that is an ideal choice for certain areas of eastern North America.

This native bittersweet grows to 20 feet or more and has decorative orange-yellow pods, which open in autumn to reveal scarlet seeds—an important food source for songbirds, grouse, quail, chipmunks and fox squirrels.

Passionflower vines, Pipevines and others offer as a host plant for a select number of butterflies, not to mention all the pollinators.

Research and studies show, that native insects rarely eat nonnative plants. They don't have the enzymes required to digest the leaves of exotics.

When alien vines obliterate native plants, insects lose their food sources and their numbers drop. Since many birds feed on insects and feed insects or insect larvae to their young he explains, when insects decline, so do the birds.

It's no secret, that suburban areas are fast becoming dominant ecosystems .

Native Honeysuckles and Trumpet creeper are hummingbird magnets.

Though not particularly attractive, native Greenbriers (Smilax species) are great in mid to large sized habitats, and offer food and protection for a host of wildlife.

If we homeowners would use only plants like native vines to their area, just imagine the future impact on wildlife populations and our natural heritage.

Be sure to check out your region for native vines. Don't forget to check nearby regions as native plants continue to spread by nature and human activity.

Return to the Top of Native Vines

Vines of the Northeast and Great Lakes

Native Vines of the Prairie and Great Plains

Vines of the Southeast

Vines of the Mountains and Basins

Native Trees

Native Shrubs

Native Flowers

Native Grasses

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