Choose Plants for Play Value

Utilize a unique NEW TOOL to Promote Richer Play and Recreation Experiences with Plants


The natural world is an incredible wonder that inspires us all. To help increase green spaces, inform family-friendly recreation design, and promote the growth of nature-rich environments everywhere, we are pleased to present the Play Value Plant Database, together with our presenting partners, the Children & Nature Network and the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University.

The database is an exciting, unique resource allowing users to select plants by their play value, like those that promote sensory attributes, attract butterflies or birds, provide "loose parts" for play, or a host of other playful traits. (in addition to commonly found criteria like zone, height, growth habits, etc.) It's a fantastic tool for landscape architects, park administrators, nature-focused organizations, schools, and anyone who wants to promote rich and diverse play and recreation experiences for children and families. The resource is a wonderful complement to NatureGrounds and Pathways for Play, the nature programs developed in partnership with the Natural Learning Initiative, College of Design, NC State University, designed to combine nature and play and promote richer family experiences. Both programs are linked at the bottom of the page.

Whether you are working to expand environmental education to develop a child's lifelong connection with the natural world in a green schoolyard, or simply trying to create a more meaningful outdoor family plan and recreational space through the beauty of nature, we welcome you explore, learn, and download your personalized plant collection. 

Be sure to share feedback after you've had a chance to use the database, and download this brochure to share the database with others!

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone Map
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone Map

Find your Region and Zone using the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Hardiness Zone Map (above) to identify where specific categories of plant life are capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including withstanding zone minimum temperatures. These zones and regions can be used within the database to narrow the choice of plants.

Browse the Play Value Plant Database!

Promote Richer Play and Recreation Experiences with Playful Plants

View Plant Database

Thank you to the following resources:

  • Moore, R (1993). Plants for Play, A Plant Selection Guide for Children’s Outdoor Environments, MIG Communications, 1802 Fifth St., Berkeley, CA 94710
  • Native American Ethnobotany: A Database of Foods, Drugs, Dyes and Fibers of Native American Peoples, Derived from Plants.
  • Native Plant Information Network, NPIN (2013).  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas, Austin, TX.
  • NC State Extension Plant Database  North Carolina Cooperative Extension    
  • The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2019. Published on the Internet at and
  • University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.
  • US Department of Agriculture, NRCS. 2019. The PLANTS Database (, 29 April 2019). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

In today’s environments, we must often design nature back into children and families’ lives. This tool helps identify and include playful plants that promote naturalization and offer a greater diversity of richer play opportunities.

Robin Moore Dipl. Arch, MCP, ASLA


Discover ways to intentionally design nature into play spaces

Pathways for Play®

Bring play to nature by designing playful pathway networks

This database and resulting lists are intended to provide general information only, it is not intended to be a comprehensive resource. PlayCore disclaims any liability or responsibility for any allergy, sensitivity, illness, or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of the information herein. For information or concerns about the toxicity of plants, contact the local Poison Control Center in your area. A directory of these is available from The American Association of Poison Control Centers (