South Dakota, or the Mount Rushmore State, is located in the north-central United States and has a temperate continental climate. It has dry winters and semi-humid summers that are often accompanied by severe thunderstorms and strong winds.
Most of the state is covered in grasses and crops. However, South Dakota is home to many other types of plants – trees, shrubs, ferns, or vines!
If you’re planning to visit South Dakota, you should check this list of plants native to the state, especially if you’re a plant enthusiast!
1. Cutleaf Daisy
|Scientific name||Erigeron compositus|
|Other common names||Dwarf mountain fleabane, trifid mountain fleabane|
|Type of plant||Perennial herb|
|Distribution||Canada, the western-central United States|
The cutleaf daisy is a perennial herb that spreads through underground rhizomes. It’s a small herb, growing only up to 10 inches tall. Each cutleaf daisy stem has one flower head that bears from 20 to 60 ray florets that can be white, pink, and sometimes blue.
The cutleaf daisy is also considered an Arctic and alpine species, but it’s common throughout Canada and the western-central United States, ranging as south as New Mexico.
|Scientific name||Silphium integrifolium|
|Other common names||Entire-leaf rosinweed, whole-leaf rosinweed, silflower, prairie rosinweed|
|Type of plant||Perennial herb|
|Distribution||Eastern and central North America|
The rosinweed herb is common throughout eastern and central North America and is often cultivated as an ornamental plant in gardens since it’s easy to be taken care of. The plant grows to around 6 feet tall and can develop around 100 hairless or rough-haired stems. The leaves grow directly on the stems in an opposite arrangement.
The rosinweed herb produces many yellow flowers that grow on clusters holding up to 15 flower heads, and each flower head is equipped with up to 36 ray flowers and many disc florets.
Besides serving as an ornamental plant, rosinweed is an important food source for herbivorous animals, including blister beetles and white-tailed deer.
|Scientific name||Viburnum lentago|
|Other common names||Sheepberry, sweet viburnum|
|Type of plant||Shrub or small tree|
|Distribution||Northeastern and midwestern United States, southern Canada|
The nannyberry plant can grow either as a shrub or a small tree. Its trunk diameter is usually around 10 inches. On average, the plant grows up to 30 feet tall. A nannyberry’s reddish-brown trunk is usually short, while the branches are flexible and pendulous. When the plant is young, its twigs are pale green, darkening in time, reaching a reddish-brown color. If crushed, the twigs give off an unpleasant scent.
The nannyberry plant has oppositely arranged leaves with an oval shape and finely serrated margins. While they’re usually bright green, the leaves get a gorgeous red or orange color in autumn.
Nannyberry flowers in late spring and exhibits its creamy flowers. On the other hand, the fruits are bluish-black and have a sweet, juicy taste.
4. Eastern Red Cedar
|Eastern Red Cedar|
|Scientific name||Juniperus virginiana|
|Other common names||Red juniper, red cedar, Virginian juniper|
|Type of plant||Coniferous evergreen tree|
|Distribution||Eastern North America|
The eastern red cedar is a coniferous evergreen tree that usually reaches 16 – 66 feet tall. However, if it grows in poor soil, the plant may never become a tree, remaining a small bush instead.
The eastern red cedar has a reddish-brown bark, while its leaves are either needle-like or scale-like. The seed cones have a berry-like shape and a beautiful dark purplish color with blue shades. The berries play a crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem’s balance, as they’re a major food source for many bird species.
On the other hand, the eastern red cedar is considered invasive in some regions. Moreover, its pollen is a known allergen.
5. Eastern American Black Walnut
|Eastern American Black Walnut|
|Scientific name||Juglans nigra|
|Type of plant||Deciduous tree|
|Distribution||Central and eastern United States|
The eastern American black walnut is a deciduous tree growing primarily in riparian zones. Its trunk usually reaches heights of up to 130 feet in forests, while in open areas, the trunk is shorter, and the tree develops a broad crown. The bark is grayish-black.
The dark green leaves of the eastern American black walnut are alternately arranged, growing from the stem, and feature a hairy underside. Eastern American black walnut trees produce both male and female flowers. The latter grow in clusters of 2 to 5, while the former grow in drooping catkins. The brownish-green fruits ripen in late summer or early autumn.
6. American Pussy Willow
|American Pussy Willow|
|Scientific name||Salix discolor|
|Other common names||Glaucous willow|
|Type of plant||Deciduous shrub|
|Distribution||Canada, northern United States|
While the American pussy willow isn’t widely distributed in South Dakota, it’s undoubtedly worth mentioning thanks to its unique appearance.
This willow species grows as deciduous shrubs or small trees, rarely reaching more than 20 feet tall. It has oval leaves with green upper sides and grayish-white undersides. When spring sets in, the American pussy willow unravels its silvery catkins, followed by small capsule-like fruits.
The tree is a host for numerous insect larvae. Moreover, the willow bark contains salicin, which was once used as a painkiller.
7. Virginia Creeper
|Scientific name||Parthenocissus quinquefolia|
|Other common names||Five-finger, five-leaved ivy, Victoria creeper|
|Type of plant||Deciduous vine|
|Distribution||Eastern and central North America, southeastern Canada, Mexico, Guatemala|
The Virginia creeper has palmately compound leaves equipped with five leaflets with toothed margins. The leaves are usually green but can turn bright red in autumn. The climber blooms in late spring and produces green flowers that grow in clusters.
In early fall, Virginia creeper unravels its fruits – small purple-black berries. The oxalic acid in berries is highly toxic to humans, as it can cause kidney damage and sometimes even be fatal. On the other hand, birds delight in Virginia creeper berries, and some rely only on them during winter!
Although toxic, many gardeners choose the Virginia creeper for their gardens and yards due to its rapid growth and spread. However, while it may be useful in covering buildings and walls, this deciduous climber can also spread over trees and other plants, eventually killing them.
8. Needle Spikerush
|Scientific name||Eleocharis acicularis|
|Other common names||Least spikerush|
|Type of plant||Annual or perennial spikesedge|
|Distribution||Asia, North America, South America, Australia|
The needle spikerush is a spike-sedge featuring grass-like stems. It’s not a large plant, as its stems grow only up to around 6 inches. The plant is typically found in aquatic and semi-aquatic environments. If it grows in shallow water, the needle spikerush will develop tiny flowers that grow independently at the tip of each stem.
The needle spikerush is very popular among plant enthusiasts and not only! Some people add the needle spikerush to their aquariums, as it can provide fish with dense mats they need to lay their eggs. Others add it to their ponds because it can reduce algae growth and absorb mineral salts. Moreover, the needle spikerush species doesn’t require much maintenance and is generally pest- and disease-free.
9. Anise Hyssop
|Scientific name||Agastache foeniculum|
|Other common names||Lavender giant hyssop, blue giant hyssop, fragrant giant hyssop|
|Type of plant||Perennial plant|
|Distribution||Central and northern North America|
The anise hyssop is a plant in the mint family and one of the major attractions for pollinators. Only one anise hyssop can produce up to 90,000 flowers; imagine it!
The anise hyssop grows in a clump-like shape, reaching 4 feet tall and 1 foot wide. It flowers from June to September when it’s covered in many purple flowers that grow upward throughout the oval leaves. When the flowers bloom, they’re covered in pollinators like bees and butterflies all day long!
While the plant was once used to treat wounds, cough, and fevers, the leaves are nowadays used in tea-making and added to salads. However, even though it isn’t a common medicinal herb today, studies show that anise hyssop essential oil has antioxidant, antibacterial, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties. This indicates that the plant may someday be used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
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- https://www.gardenia.net/native-plants/south-dakota, Available here: https://www.gardenia.net/native-plants/south-dakota
- Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science, Available here: https://japsonline.com/admin/php/uploads/2843_pdf.pdf