Learn About Native Species

What is a native species?

Native conifers

Native species of southcentral Ontario existed here prior to European settlement and are adapted to local conditions. Southcentral Ontario’s diverse topography, climate and soils are reflected in a diverse mix of vegetation, largely dominated by forests with many woody plant species – in fact over 150 native trees and shrubs.

The term native often has a political connotation, e.g. native to Ontario; but given the size of Ontario, this is less than helpful. Indigenous is often used interchangeably with native but it has a more useful, locally significant meaning. An indigenous species is adapted to local conditions such as a river watershed, or even more specifically, to the bottom slopes of the river valley.


There are many good textbooks that describe individual species but determining which ones are indigenous to your local area can be challenging.

Species Info Table

For a complete list of the Ontario’s many native woody species, including basic information about each species, download: Species Information TABLE_2016

Native Species for your area

Locate Your EcoDistrict

Click on the map below to locate your EcoDistrict and download the Local Native Species List for your area. An ecodistrict is an area of land and water defined by its physical features, including bedrock, surface geology and topography as well as local climate patterns, due to e.g. lake effect, elevation and latitude. These features play a major role in determining patterns of species presence, association and the habitats that develop.


Click map for a list of nature plants to your region


Ecological Land Classification Primer — click here


click to download pdf (3MB)

For more detail on definitions of Ontario’s ecozones, ecoregions, and ecodistricts.

Landowner Guide — download pdf

The Landowners Guide to the Native Woody Species of Southcentral Ontario provides more detail including:

  • What is a native species?
  • Why should you care about native species?
  • Describing your site
  • Is Your Site Native?
  • Describing Ontario’s forests
  • A Species List for Your Area
  • Choose species for planting projects
Download the Landowners Guide to Native Woody Species of Southcentral Ontario.