Native Plants

Native Blue Dune Curl

Featured above is the native Dune Blue Curl, also known as the Carolina Blue Curl, which is endemic to barrier islands.

Native Plants for Coastal Carolina Landscapes

Native Plants provide food and shelter for many animals, including birds, mammals, and insects.  By planting native species, you not only add beauty to your home on Bald Head Island - you also create vital habitats that sustain our native wildlife.  The link above is an informational guide to the native plants of the coastal carolinas.

Native plants are uniquely adapted to local environmental conditions.  As such, they often require less pesticide, fertilizer, water, and overall maintenance compared to exotic species.  Plant them, therefore, with a clean conscience.

"We can each make a measurable difference almost immediately by planting a native nearby.  As gardeners and stewards of our land, we have never been so empowered - and the ecological stakes have never been so high" - Dr. Doug Tallamy

Plants pay you back!  Did you know that the native plant species on Bald Head island provide you with important services?  Native dune plants hold in the sand and protect you against battering storm waves.  The forest trees can shear off hurricane force winds and grow the elevation of the island by filtering blowing sand then stabilizing with their roots.  The salt marsh plants filter pollution and serve as a reservoir for storm surge reducing flooding during hurricanes.

By planting native species, you enhance your property values with protection from storms and improved view shed.  Animals depend on native plants for food and shelter during storms.  Ornamental plants often have berries that are indigestible by our migrating song birds and local herbivores.  If you want to live in harmony with nature then consider the many benefits of native plants.  They are perfectly adapted for our coastal climate and need less or no irrigation and little pruning.  Reduce your homes maintenance costs with native species in your yard.

Invasive Exotic Species of North Carolina

While it is important to plant native species, it is even more important to not plant invasive species, such as Beach Vitex and Pampas Grass.  The link above features invasive species of North Carolina that are harmful to BHI's wildlife.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, invasive species are one of the leading threats to native wildlife.  Approximately 42% of threatened or endangered species are at risk primarly due to invasive species.  The impacts of natural ecosystems and economy cost billions of dollars each year.  Many of our commercial, agricultural, and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems, especially on Bald Head Island. Please consider these implications before landscaping on your BHI property. 

The invasive species, Beach Vitex, (Vitex rotundifolia) was introduced to the Southeastern U.S. in the mid 1980's to help stabilize dunes and prevent erosion.  Soon after, the Beach Vitex began spreading on beaches where it was crowding out native species like Sea Oats. Worried about harming the native species and animal habitats, the BHI Conservancy began a program in 2006 focused on removing the plant.  We need your help!  Though Beach Vitex is rapidly disappearing from BHI due to our efforts, we need your help detecting seedlings and re-growth.  Click here for information on how to identify Beach Vitex and how to report it.  If you spot any on the island, please email Will Benfield at /native-plants with it's location.

Less nasty invasive species, but still a nuisance, that are commonly planted on Bald Head Island are:
  • Chinese Privit (Lingustrum sinense) - consider planting Beauty Berry instead
  • Throne Olive (Elaegnus pungens) - consider planting Red Cedar instead
  • Plume Grass (Cortaderia selloana) - consider planting Purple Mule Grass instead