Can You Suggest Native Winter Shrubs that Feed Birds?

By: Jessie Keith

American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) is one of several great native shrubs for birds.

“What native bushes (VA) can I plant that will provide winter food for wild birds?” Question from Dagmar of Virginia

Answer: The fruits and nuts of many Mid-Atlantic native shrubs feed birds in winter. Some of the best for fruit include winterberries (Ilex verticillata), beautyberries (Callicarpa americana), American cranberrybush (Viburnum opulus var. americanum) and witherod (Viburnum nudum). These four highly landscape-worthy native shrubs have beautiful winter fruits eaten by many songbirds. All have cultivated variants that can be found in most garden centers. Their persistent winter berries are also gorgeous—adding lots of bright color to the yard and garden when little can be found.

Nut-producing native shrubs, such as the American hazelnut (Corylus americana), are also fair game. Plant these large shrubs along the margins of any spacious garden or landscape. The edible hazelnuts they produce are just as tasty to homeowners as they are to birds and other wildlife.

Happy winter gardening!
Jessie Keith

About Jessie Keith

Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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