Category Archives: Native Plants

Black hawthorn

Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)
Crataegus douglasii

Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) is a deciduous, thicket-forming shrub or small tree. Estimates for mature height vary widely from 20-40 feet. It is a common plant in Oregon and Washington on both sides of the Cascades, growing in moist, well-drained soils. The black hawthorn is an important species for wildlife, attracting pollinators and providing protected nesting and edible fruits for birds and other small wildlife.

Leaves are 1½ -3 inches, doubly serrated, ovate, and sometimes lobed. Small white flowers bloom in clusters from late spring to early summer. The fruit is purple-black pome (similar to a hard berry, but with a dense core containing the seeds), ¼ to ½ inch.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist (well-drained)
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 20-40ft
  • Mature Width:6-10ft

Oval Leaved Viburnum

Oval-leaved Viburnum (Viburnum ellipticum)
Viburnum ellipticum

Oval-leaved viburnum (Viburnum ellipticum) is a broadleaf, deciduous shrub of three-season interest. Viburnum is also known as the “wayfaring tree.” It attracts pollinators and beneficial insects, and provides food and shelter for birds and other wildlife.

Viburnum’s form is erect and loosely-branched. Leaves are 1-3 inches, simple, ovate to almost round and coarsely toothed. Clusters of small white flowers bloom in late spring and early summer. Fruit is a red drupe, becoming black. Foliage turns red in the autumn.

Oval-leaved viburnum is native west of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, where it is found mainly on the edges of deciduous woods and along streams. This shrub tolerates seasonal flooding and drought.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 5-15ft
  • Mature Width:6-10ft

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
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 6ft
  • Mature Width:6ft

Goat’s Beard

Goat's Beard (Aruncus dioicus)
Aruncus dioicus

Goat’s Beard has decorative finely-cut foliage and will create a bold, showy effect for a moist or partly-shaded spot all season. Dense, feathery plumes of tight white flowers rise well above the foliage spring to summer.

Goat’s Beard is an excellent background plant or grouped in a woodland setting. It dies back to the ground in winter, only to return gloriously in the spring. Goat’s Beard spreads slowly by rhizomes to form attractive patches, and can be planted in more sunny areas provided there is good moisture. It’s a “host” plant to the Dusky Azure Butterfly.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Perennially Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals, Pollinators
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 5-15ft
  • Mature Width:3-5ft

Narrow-leaved Mules Ear

Narrow-leaved mules ear (Wyethia angustifolia)
Wyethia angustifolia

Also known as “Narrow-leaved Mule’s Ear” or “California Compassplant”. The inflorescence produces one or more large sunflower-like flower heads at the top of the hairy stem. Large lance-shaped, basal leaves with several smaller, alternate, stem leaves.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing:
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 2ft
  • Mature Width:1ft

Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Acer macrophyllum

Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf or Oregon Maple) is a large deciduous tree. It grows to 35 m tall, but more commonly 15 m to 20 m tall. It is native to western North America, mostly near the Pacific coast, from southernmost Alaska south to southern California. Some stands are also found inland in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California, and a tiny population occurs in central Idaho.

It has the largest leaves of any maple, typically 15-30 cm across, with five deeply-incised palmate lobes, with the largest running to 61 cm. The flowers are produced in spring in pendulous racemes 10-15 cm long, greenish-yellow with inconspicuous petals. The fruit is a paired winged samara, each seed 1-1.5 cm diameter with a 4-5 cm wing.

In the more humid parts of its range, as in the Olympic National Park, its bark is covered with epiphytic moss and fern species.

Cultivation and Uses

Maple syrup has been made from the sap of bigleaf maple trees. While the sugar concentration is about the same as in sugar maple (Acer saccharum), the flavor is somewhat different. Interest in commercially producing syrup from bigleaf maple sap has been limited.

The lumber from this tree has diverse uses, such as furniture, piano frames and salad bowls. Highly figured wood is not uncommon and is used for veneer and guitar bodies.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 90ft
  • Mature Width:70ft

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
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 1-5ft
  • Mature Width:1-5ft

Incense Cedar

Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
Calocedrus decurrens

Incense cedar is a conifer native from central-western Oregon through most of California and the extreme west of Nevada, and also a short distance into northern Baja California. It grows at altitudes of 50-2900 m.

It is a large tree, typically reaching heights of 40-60 m and a trunk diameter of up to 3 m (maxima, 69 m tall and 4.5 m diameter), and with a broad conic crown of spreading branches. The bark is orange-brown weathering grayish, smooth at first, becoming fissured and exfoliating in long strips on the lower trunk on old trees. The bright-green foliage is produced in flattened sprays with scale-like leaves 2-15 mm long.

The seed cones are 20-35 mm long, and look like the open beak of a duck. They turn orange to yellow-brown when mature about 8 months after pollination.

This tree is the preferred host of a wood wasp, Syntexis libocedrii, a living fossil species which lays its eggs in the smoldering wood immediately after a forest fire.

Cultivation and Uses

The wood is the primary material for wooden pencils, because it is soft and tends to sharpen easily without forming splinters.

It is also a popular ornamental tree, valued for its drought tolerance. It is grown particularly in cool summer climates for its very narrow columnar crown. This narrow crown is not restricted to selected cultivars but is an unexplained consequence of the climatic conditions in these areas, and is not shown by trees in the wild.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Dry
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 100-150ft
  • Mature Width:30ft
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