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

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

Mockorange

Mock orange (Philadephus lewisii)
Philadelphus lewisii

Philadelphus lewisii (Mockorange) is a deciduous shrub native to western North America, from northwestern California in the Sierra Nevada, north to southern British Columbia, and east to Idaho and Montana. It is widespread but not terribly common, usually appearing as an individual plant among other species.

The shrub is rounded and grows to 1.5-3 m in height. It sends out long red stems which fade to gray with age, the bark shredding in small flakes. The opposite leaves vary in size across individual plants but they are usually oval, 3-5 cm long, smooth or serrated along the edges, and light green in color with a rough texture. The flowers are produced in clusters at the ends of long stems, with four white petals 5-40 mm long and numerous yellow stamens. At the height of flowering, the plant is covered in a mass of blossoms. The flowers have a heavy, sweet scent similar to orange blossoms with a hint of pineapple. The fruit is a small hard capsule 1 cm long with woody, pointed wings, containing many brown 2.5-3 mm long seeds.

The plant can be used for numerous purposes. The wood is made into tools, snowshoes, pipes, and furniture. The leaves and bark, which contain saponins, can be mixed in water for use as a mild soap.

Cultivation

Mockorange prefers full sun to partial sun. It is drought-tolerant and will grow in poor soils, and provides a landscape with flashy flowers and a fruity scent. Philadelphus lewisii


  • 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: 6-10ft
  • Mature Width: 4-10ft

Pacific Ninebark

Pacific ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)
Physocarpus capitatus

Pacific ninebark, or tall ninebark, is native to western North America from southern Alaska to southern California, and east to Montana and Utah.

It is a dense deciduous shrub growing to 1 to 2.5 meters tall. The name references the appearance of the bark, which peels in many layers. The shrub has distinctive maple-like lobed leaves 3-14 cm long and broad, and clusters of small white flowers with five petals and numerous red-tipped stamens. The unique fruit is an inflated glossy red pod which turns dry and brown and then splits open to release seeds.

It is often found in wetlands, but also forms thickets along rivers and in moist forest habitats. While it grows robustly in wet environments, it is drought-tolerant to a degree and is a popular garden plant.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 8-12ft
  • Mature Width: 4-7ft
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