In response to underlying geology and hydrology, native plant communities emerge. Our native plants provide beauty, biodiversity, storm-water control, cleaner and cooler air, and habitat and food for local wildlife.
The majority of natural lands in Arlington occur as mature hardwood forests. Trees in these forests – and throughout the rest of the county – are perhaps our most valued natural resource. Arlington County is striving to increase our tree canopy on private property and to maintain it in our parks. Native wildflowers, grasses, shrubs and ferns are also important components of our plant communities.
Historically, an impressive 28% of the species in Virginia (40,767 sq miles) were found within the boundaries of Arlington County (26 sq miles). While an estimated 200 extirpated species are no longer present, over 600 native plant species are still found here today. Of those 600 species, a third are present at a single location or in a few small colonies, including fourteen state rare species. Many of these rarer plants are found in Natural Resource Conservation Areas, and all are mapped and protected by buffer zones.