Fragrant native plants

Fragrant plants add a whole other dimension to your garden! Some will scent the air. Others require you to get your nose up to them to appreciate them. This list is not exhaustive.


  • Amelanchier arborea (Serviceberry)

  • Chionanthus virginicus (Fringetree) - smells like beautiful lipstick

  • Cornus alternifolia (Pagoda Dogwood)

  • Crataegus crus-galli (Cockspur Hawthorn)

  • Ilex opaca (American Holly) - fills the air with sweetness for several weeks

  • Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire) - ‘Scentlandia’ cultivar is especially fragrant.

  • Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar)

  • Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia) - Delicious lemony-rose scent

  • Malus coronaria (Sweet Crabapple)

  • Ptelea trifoliata (Hop Tree)

  • Prunus americana (Wild Plum)

  • Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) - often described as "ambrosial!"

  • Sassafras albidum (Sassafras) - Leaves (when crushed) & roots

  • Tilia americana (Basswood)


  • Cephalanthus occidentalis (Buttonbush)

  • Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

  • Comptonia peregrina (Sweet Fern)

  • Cornus amomum (Silky Dogwood)

  • Eubotrys racemosus (Fetterbush)

  • Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel)

  • Lindera benzoin (Spicebush) - the fruit has a wonderful, spicy smell

  • Rhododendron periclymenoides (Pinxter Azalea)

  • Rhododendron arborescens (Sweet Azalea)

  • Rhododendron prinophyllum (Early Azalea)

  • Rhododendron viscosum (Swamp Azalea)

  • Rhus aromatica (Fragrant Sumac)

  • Rosa carolina (Carolina Rose)

  • Rosa palustris (Swamp Rose)

  • Sambucus canadensis (Common Elderberry) Lightly fragrant

American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana


  • Actaea racemosa (Black Cohosh) - sweet but barnlike scent

  • Asclepias incarnata (Swamp Milkweed)

  • Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) - intoxicating scent fills the air

  • Eupatorium perfoliatum (Common Boneset) - Can be used as a cut flower.

  • Euonymus americana (Strawberry Bush)

  • Eutrochium species (Joe Pye Weed)

  • Iris virginica (Southern Blue Flag)

  • Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebell)

  • Monarda punctata (Spotted Beebalm)

  • Monarda didyma (Beebalm) - smells like oregano            

  • Mondarda fistulosa (Bergamot) - smells like Earl Gray tea       

  • Nymphaea odorata (Water Lily)

  • Packera aurea (Golden Ragwort)

  • Phlox maculata (Meadow Phlox)

  • Phlox pilosa (Downy Phlox)

  • Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox) - Can be used as a cut flower.

  • Phlox stolonifera (Creeping Phlox)

  • Pycnanthemum muticum and tenuifolium (Mountain Mint) - Fragrant leaves give off scent as you brush by them. Can be used as a cut flower.

Pinxter Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata)


  • Dennstaedtiaa punctilobula (Hay-Scented Fern) - smells like hay in the fall as it turns gold


  • Clematis virginiana (Virgin’s Bower)

  • Passiflora incarnata (Purple Passion Flower)

  • Wisteria frutescens (American Wisteria)

Virgin's Bower (Clematis virginiana)

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