Category Archives: Small Shrubs

Black Gooseberry

Black gooseberry (Ribes divaricatum)
Ribes divaricatum

Black gooseberry (Ribes divaricatum) is a deciduous shrub that grows up to 8ft tall with arching stems. The white flowers usually bloom in mid-spring and are a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies. The berries are small and offer a great food source for wildlife.

The plant prefers moist soil and can grow in both full sun and semi-shade. Please note that the plant does have sharp thorns, and precautions should be taken if planting in areas used by young children and pets.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 5-8ft
  • Mature Width: 3-5ft

Baldhip Rose

Baldhip Rose (Rosa gymnocarpa)
Rosa gymnocarpa

Baldhip rose (Rosa gymnocarpa) is a low rhizomatous shrub, growing up to 5 feet high. The plant is widespread and common throughout Oregon. It provides food and shelter for a variety of birds and mammals and attracts pollinators and other beneficial insects.

Baldhip rose leaves are compound and deciduous with 5-9 1.5-inch leaflets. Thorns are thin and straight, ranging from numerous to sparse. Flowers are pink and fragrant, blooming in late spring. Half-inch rose hips are orange to scarlet and edible. This rose tolerates full sun to partial shade and is drought tolerant. Rosa gymnocarpa hybridizes with other roses.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 5ft
  • Mature Width: 3-5ft

Golden Currant

Golden Currant (Ribes aureum)
Ribes aureum

Golden currant (Ribes aureum) is a low, deciduous shrub, named for its tubular golden flowers. It is common in Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades and into the Great Basin. Golden currant grows in full sun and partial shade, in dry to moist conditions, and is drought tolerant. The leaves are deciduous, lobed, and vaguely maple-like, ½ – 1½ inches. Flowers bloom from mid- to late-spring in clusters. The berries are edible and range in color from red to black.

Golden currant has a mature size of approximately 6 feet by 6 feet. It attracts hummingbirds and the fruit is eaten by birds and other wildlife. Thornless.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing:
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Hummingbirds, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 6ft
  • Mature Width: 6ft

Salal

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
Gaultheria shallon

Salal is a low-growing, leathery-leaved evergreen shrub that tolerates a wide variety of conditions. Its dark blue “berries” (actually swollen sepals) are edible raw and can be made into jams, preserves, and pies. Salal berries are mildly sweet, and are often used in combination with the more tart Oregon grape.

In the Willamette Valley, salal prefers full to partial shade. In coastal areas it can form deep, nearly impenetrable thickets, and easily tolerates full sun. It grows as far north as Baranof Island, Alaska.

Salal leaves are also harvested and sold to florists worldwide for use in floral arrangements.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 1-5ft
  • Mature Width: 1-5ft

Oceanspray

Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
Holodiscus discolor

Oceanspray is native to western North America. It is most common in the mountainous Pacific Northwest. This fast-growing deciduous shrub reaches 5 m tall. Its leaves are small, 5-9 cm long and 4-7 cm broad, toothed, juicy green when new. Cascading clusters of white flowers drooping from the branches give the plant two of its common names, oceanspray and creambush. The flowers have a faint sugary scent. It bears a small, hairy fruit containing one seed which is light enough to be dispersed by wind.

Oceanspray is found in a variety of habitats, from wet coastal forests to drier, cooler mountain peaks further inland. It often grows in areas dominated by Douglas-fir. The plant is found in areas prone to wildfire, such as chaparral communities. It is often the first green shoot to spring up in an area recovering from a burn or logging.

It will thrive in a sunny or part-sunny garden, growing numerous arching branches with stems terminating in white flowers.

Oceanspray flowers and leaves have a variety of medicinal properties and practical uses. The wood is very hard, and is used for both furniture and small hand tools.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 8-10ft
  • Mature Width: 3-7ft

Oregon Grape (Tall)

Tall Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
Mahonia aquifolium (Berberis aquifolium)

Tall Oregon grape is an evergreen shrub related to the barberry. Some authors submerge Mahonia in the barberry genus, Berberis. The plant is not related to grapes, but gets the name from the purple clusters of berries. It is closely related to creeping Oregon grape (Mahonia repens) and “Cascade” or dwarf Oregon grape (M. nervosa).

Tall Oregon grape grows to 1-5 m tall. Its leathery leaves resemble holly and the stems and twigs have a thickened, corky appearance. The flowers, borne in late spring, are an attractive yellow.

Oregon grape is used in landscaping similarly to barberry, suited for low-maintenance plantings and loose evergreen hedges. Oregon grape is resistant to summer drought, tolerates poor soils, and does not create excessive leaf litter. Its berries attract birds.

The small purplish-black fruits are edible, but quite tart/bitter and contain large seeds. They are generally not eaten without being sweetened first, but make a tasty jelly, especially in combination with salal berries. The evergreen foliage is sometimes used by florists for greenery and a small gathering industry has been established in the Pacific Northwest. The inner bark of the larger stems and roots of Oregon grape yield a yellow dye.

Oregon grape is a native plant on the North American west coast from British Columbia to northern California, occurring in the understory of Douglas-fir forests and in brushlands. It is the state flower of Oregon.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 5-8ft
  • Mature Width: 2-8ft
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