Get to Know Native Shurbs

Restoration work at LaBagh Woods includes replacing invasive plants with more than 40 species of approved and locally sourced and grown native shrubs and under canopy trees which provide ideal habitat for migrating birds that pass through the region twice a year.

Below are just a few of the native shrubs that are vital to creating a healthy understory for birds and other wildlife. A comprehensive list of Illinois’ shrubs, trees, and vines can be found here.

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

The chokecherry is a shade intolerant shrub that is in the Rose (Rosaceae) family. Some consider this a tree. Also known as the Eastern Chokecherry or the Red Chokecherry, it often forms shrubby thickets. In Ojibwe this shrub is known as Asasaweminagaawanzh. It grows prolifically from sprouting stumps and root suckers. It grows fast and has a short life span. In fact, on average chokecherries grow 4 to 6 metres (13 to 20') in 40 to 60 years.

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

This prickly ash, also known as the northern prickly ash or the toothache tree, is a shrub that grows four to 10 feet tall (maximum 25 feet). It has paired prickles flanking the leaf scars and buds, and encountering a specimen without prickles is rare. The bark of trunk and larger branches is gray to brown and fairly smooth, although on old large shrubs it can become shallowly furrowed with a wrinkled appearance. Twigs are brown and glabrous, while young shoots are light green.

Wild Plum (Prunus americana)

Native to the Chicago region, the wild plum, also called American plum, is a small, fast-growing, short-lived, colony-forming native tree, commonly found along fencerows, open fields, and roadsides. Abundant tiny white flowers open before the leaves emerge in spring. Plums appear in late summer.