Indiana Species List

Here are some common Indiana plants and animals waiting to be observed near you!


In the Forest

In the early 1800s, Indiana was home to more than 19.5 million acres of forest land. Since then, much has been lost to mining, pipelines, road construction, and other infrastructure. The remaining 4.9 million acres are looking forward to you visit.

Liriodendron Tulipifera

The state tree of Indiana, is famous for its beautiful tulip-like blooms and unique four-point leaves. The fruits are cone-shaped and house winged seeds.

Platanus occidentalis

Easy to spot any time of year with their stunning mottled trunks, sycamores frequently boast leaves bigger than your head.

Cercis canadensis

A colorful tree most of the year, redbuds have softly heart-shaped leaves, dense branching. The clustered magenta buds turn into an explosion of pink blossoms.

On the Prairie

Once covering 15% of Indiana land, most of the original prairie in the state has been lost to drainage, urbanization and agriculture. With less than 1% remaining nationwide, these species-rich prairies are one of the most endangered ecosystems in the country.

Solidago canadensis

Typically flowering from August through November, tall goldenrod can reach up to 7 feet! Their tiny, yellow 5-pointed flowers grow in clusters and the plant often has galls mid-stem.

Genus species

Milkweed is such a unique plant it's hard to miss! With large pod-like fruits, star-shaped flowers, and resident monarch caterpillars, you shouldn't miss this one!

Monarch Butterfly

Danaus plexippus

Monarchs have orange wings with black veins and margins. The lack of a black line mid-wing distinguishes them from the viceroy butterfly. They hide a pair of legs and may appear to only have 4.

At the coastal Dunes

Spanning 23.5 square miles, Indiana Dunes is a state treasure of natural splendor. Explore the various ecosystems in this State and National Park. Did you know there are forested sand dunes in Allen County?

Pennsylvania Sedge

Carex pensylvanica

This flowering sedge produces spikes and in spring and produces shaggy seeds. It spreads horizontally using rhizomes, similar to roots.

Spotted Sandpiper

Actitis macularius

This small, spotted shorebird has yellowish legs, orange bill with a dark tip, and a line running "through" the eye. Juveniles lack spots.

Ebony Jewelwing

Calopteryx maculata

Both sexes have all-black wings and legs. While the males are metallic blue and green, females tend to be bronze with white spots near the tip of their wings.

At the Wetlands

At one time, 25 percent of Indiana was covered by wetlands. That percentage has dwindled to four (4) percent. Protect these endangered and valuable natural spaces, by observing and recording the phenological data of the plants and animals you find there.

Black Willow

Salix nigra

Easy to identify by its dark, furrowed bark, these trees possess yellow catkin flowers that produce small reddish-brown capsules that contain small, furry seeds. Black willows can grow to a height of 100 feet.

American Lotus

Nelumbo lutea

This fully-aquatic plant is often located about 1-6 feet above the water. It possess 1 simple, blue-green, basal leaf about 7-36" wide and its flower is yellow or light yellow, cup-like and 4-10" wide.

Dense Blazing Star

Liatris spicata

The fluffy purple flowers bloom late in the season after other blazing stars are finished blooming. The tufts of grass-like basal foliage become sparse as they move up the 3-6-foot rigid stems.

Common Invasives

Invasive species pose a threat to the balance of our ecosystems by prolific coverage of limited niches, direct competition, and even decimating entire communities of native species. Observing the life cycles of these plants and animals helps us understand how to better manage them.

Bush Honeysuckle

Lonicera spp.

Sweet-scented blooms commonly grow in pairs on these deciduous shrubs. Hollow stems easily distinguish invasive honeysuckles from beneficial natives.

Garlic Mustard

Alliaria petiolata

This annual invasive averages 600 seeds per plant in tube-like fruits. Flowers have four parts and leaves are toothed and triangular or heart-shaped. Edible.

Emerald Ash Borer

Agrilus planipennis

This destructive beetle is rarely longer than 1/3" and is distinguished from local Agrilus spp. by their red upper abdomen, visible only when its wings are open.

In the Garden

Nature is all around you, even in the big cities. Peek out your window in search of birds, grow some plants on your porch, or take a walk at your nearest park!

Live in the country? You can observe crops and help scientists and farmers determine the best times to plant and harvest!

American Elderberry

Sambucus canadensis

This shrub can grow more than 9 ft. and produces large corycombs of white flowers. It produces drooping clusters of purple to black fruits in the fall.

Echinacea purpurea

Growing from 1 to 5 feet, coneflowers have both ray flowers (the long purple petals) and disk flowers (clustered in the center).

Northern Cardinal

Cardinalis cardinalis

The state bird of Indiana, cardinals have head crests, coral-colored beaks and black face masks. The females may have red on their wings and tails while males are bright red allover.