Category Archives: Native Plants

Oregon Ash

Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia)
Fraxinus latifolia

Oregon ash is native to western North America on the west side of the Cascade Range from southwestern British Columbia south through western Washington and western Oregon to central California.

It can grow to 80 ft in height, with a trunk diameter of 3ft. The leaves are pinnate, 3.5-10″ long, with 5-9 ovate leaflets. The fruit is a samara, 3-5 cm long including the wing. The leaves turn a striking yellow in the fall.

Oregon ash prefers damp, loose soils, and grows from sea level to 900 meters. It is a dominant tree in local forested wetlands, paired with an understory of spiraea and slough sedge.

Oregon ash is an ideal deciduous tree to plant along streams, seeps, and wet areas. It forms an attractive shape, tolerates saturated soils, and shades waterways.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 70ft
  • Mature Width: 25ft

Deer Fern

Deer fern (Blechnum spicant)
Blechnum spicant

Blechnum spicant is a species of fern known by the common names deer fern or hard fern. It is native to Europe and western North America. Like some other Blechnum it has two types of leaves. The sterile leaves have flat, wavy-margined leaflets, while the fertile leaves have much narrower leaflets. Deer fern is a major understory plant in most moist coniferous forests in our region.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 1-3ft
  • Mature Width: 2ft

Salmonberry

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis)
Rubus spectabilis

Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) is a species of Rubus native to the west coast of North America from southern Alaska to California.

It is a shrub growing to 1–4 m tall, with perennial, not biennial woody stems (unlike other species). The leaves are trifoliate, 7–22 cm long, the terminal leaflet larger than the two side leaflets. The leaf margins are toothed. The flowers are 2–3 cm diameter, with five purple petals; they are produced from early spring to early summer. The fruit matures in late summer to early autumn, and resembles a large yellow to orange-red raspberry 1.5-2 cm long with many drupelets.

In our area the berries can ripen from mid-June to late-July.

Salmonberries are found in moist forests and stream margins, especially in the coastal forests. They often form large thickets, and thrive in the open spaces under stands of Red Alder (Alnus rubra).

Salmonberries have a mild flavor, and are often made into jams, candies, jellies, and wines.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • 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: 4-10ft
  • Mature Width: 4-10ft

Ponderosa Pine

W.V. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Pinus ponderosa

Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pines are beautiful trees with long needles and very attractive bark when mature. A long-lived tree – frequently exceeding 500 years. They generally like sunny dry locations, but the Willamette Valley Ponderosa can withstand the heavy wet winter soils of our region.

The bark of the Ponderosa Pine has a smell similar to vanilla when warmed by the sun. Its needles are the only known food of the caterpillars of the gelechiid moth Chionodes retiniella.

Ponderosa Pine, also sometimes called Bull Pine or Western Yellow Pine, is a widespread and variable pine native to western North America. The Willammete Valley Ponderosa Pine was first described in modern botanical literature by David Douglas in 1826, from eastern Washington near present-day Spokane. Modern forestry research identifies four different taxa of Ponderosa Pine, adapted to different climatic conditions and with differing botanical characteristics.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Dry
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 150-200ft
  • Mature Width: 25-30ft

Western Hemlock

Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Tsuga heterophylla

Tsuga heterophylla, commonly known as the Western Hemlock, is the largest species of hemlock growing to 200′ tall, and with a trunk diameter of up to 4′. The tallest specimen, 78.9 m tall, is in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, California. It is long-lived, with trees over 1200 years old known.

Western hemlock bark is thin, furrowed, and brown. Young trees have a broad conic shape with a strongly drooping lead shoot. At all ages, it is readily distinguished by the pendulous branchlet tips. The needles are short, averaging less than 1″ long, strongly flattened in cross-section, mid to dark green above, and with two broad bands of white stomata below with only a narrow green midrib between the bands.

The cones are small, pendulous, slender, and cylindrical, 1-3″ long with thin, flexible scales. The immature cones are green, maturing gray-brown 5-7 months after pollination. It is a very shade-tolerant tree, with young plants typically growing up under the canopy of other conifers such as Sitka Spruce and Douglas-fir. Without disturbance, hemlocks eventually dominate the canpoy, as other conifers cannot grow in their dense shade. However, storms and (rarely) wildfires create openings in the forest where less shade-tolerant species can regenerate.

Western Hemlock is the state tree of Washington.

Cultivation & Uses

Western Hemlock is cultivated in its native territories, where its best reliability is seen in wetter regions.

Western Hemlock boughs are used to collect herring eggs during the spring spawn in southeast Alaska. The boughs provide an easily collectible surface for the eggs to attach to as well as provide a distinctive flavor. This practice originates from traditional gathering methods of the Tlingit people.

The edible cambium can be collected by scraping slabs of removed bark. The resulting shavings can be eaten immediately, or can be dried and pressed into cakes for preservation. The bark also serves as a source of tannin for tanning.

Western Hemlock is also an important timber and paper tree, and is grown worldwide as an ornamental species.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 120-200
  • Mature Width: 30-40ft

Oregon Oxalis

Oregon oxalis (Oxalis oregana)
Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana, also known as Redwood sorrel, is a species of the wood sorrel family, Oxalidaceae, native to moist Douglas-fir and Coast Redwood forests of western North America from southwestern British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California. This attractive groundcover can spread vigorously when planted in favorable conditions.

It is a short herbaceous perennial plant with erect flowering stems 5-15 cm tall. The three leaflets are heart-shaped, 1-4.5 cm long on 5-20 cm stalks. The inflorescence is 2.4-4 cm in diameter, white to pink with five petals and sepals. The hairy five-chambered seed capsules are egg-shaped, 7-9 mm long; seeds are almond shaped.

Oregon oxalis photosynthesizes at relatively low levels of ambient light (1/200th of full sunlight). When direct sunlight strikes the leaves they fold downwards; when shade returns, the leaves reopen. This process only takes a few minutes and the movement is observable to the eye.

The tangy leaves of Oregon oxalis were eaten by Native Americans, probably in small quantities, since they contain mildly toxic oxalic acid (hence the genus name).


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 6-8in
  • Mature Width: 2-3ft
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