Native Plants

Other Websites

Champion-sized chestnut oak tree at Battery Kemble Park

Rock Creek Park

Most of the native plants in Rock Creek Park are forest species. Because of its mid-Atlantic location and climate, Rock Creek Park contains a fascinating mix of plant species from both north and south, and from both Piedmont and Coastal Plain.

The Forests of Rock Creek Park

There are about 500 native plant species in Rock Creek Park (and another 200 non-native invasive plants).1 Most of the native plants here are forest species—trees and the plants that grow beneath them.

That’s because the Mid-Atlantic climate generally supports forests, specifically forests composed of a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees. (Learn more about the climate of Rock Creek Park under Physical Setting.)

Most of the trees at Rock Creek Park are deciduous, meaning that they shed all their leaves seasonally each year. Some trees and shrubs here are evergreen—green year-round. Old leaves die and new leaves grow, but old leaves are not shed all at once, so the plant is never completely leafless. Evergreen leaves may be needle-like (think pine needles), or broad (such as American holly or mountain laurel).

Winter storms can be tough on evergreen trees. Limbs and treetops can bend or break under the weight of accumulated snow or ice. In areas like Washington, D.C., where freezing precipitation occurs, evergreen trees in natural forests typically have needle-like leaves and/or pliable limbs.

back to top

Explore these menu items:

Eastern redbud in bloomA Peek at the Plants

Explore an interactive species list and photos of Rock Creek Park's plants. Find resources for nature events and guided walks.

Skunk cabbage in mucky soilAt Home in Different Habitats

Which plants prefer shade and which prefer sun? Which plants can tolerate flooding and which need fire? Which plants are picky and which are generalists?

Acorn and fallen leaves of chestnut oakPlants of Note

Two standout tree species at Rock Creek Park.

Eastern redbud – Matt Jones; Skunk-cabbage – Gary Fleming; Chestnut oak – Matt Jones