Category Archives: Native Plants

Lady Fern

Lady fern (Athyruim filix femina)
Athyrium filix-femina

Athyrium filix-femina (Lady Fern or Common Lady-fern) is a large, feathery species of fern native throughout most of the temperate Northern Hemisphere, where it is often abundant (one of the more common ferns) in damp, shady woodland environments and is often grown for decoration in shady home gardens.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Hummingbirds, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 4ft
  • Mature Width:2ft

Wood Strawberry

Woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Fragaria vesca ssp. bracteata

After flowering, rounded, egg-shaped, red edible berries appear in the late summer and early autumn. These appear to be smooth coated but are in fact covered in very short hairs, visible only at close range.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 6in
  • Mature Width:1ft

Yellow Wood Violet

Yellow wood violet (viola glabella)
Viola glabella

Yellow wood violets have large, bright-green, heart-shaped basal leaves just below deep-yellow, pansy-like flowers. The lateral and lower petals are marked with purple veins. Slender leaning or erect stems with leaves only in upper one-third, and bilaterally symmetrical, yellow flowers facing outward, hanging from slender stalks.

A very common species in moist, shaded places in woods. Most western Violets have yellow rather than purple corollas, but all have the perky little flower with a spur or pouch behind the lower petal. The lower petal forms a landing platform for insects seeking nectar within the spur.


  • Light Requirements: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 4-9in
  • Mature Width:6-12in

Western Redcedar

Western redcedar (Thuja plicata)
Thuja plicata

Western redcedar is a species of Thuja, an evergreen coniferous tree native to the northwestern United States and southwestern Canada.

The foliage forms flat sprays with scale-like leaves in opposite pairs, with successive pairs at 90 degrees to each other. The small cones dangle off the ends of the branches.

Western redcedar is a large tree, reaching 100-200 feet tall and 9′ or more trunk diameter at maturity. The largest known Western redcedar grows near the northwest shore of Lake Quinault near Aberdeen, Washington. It is over 170 feet tall and nearly 20 feet in diameter.

Western redcedar is among the most widespread trees in the Pacific Northwest, often found growing with Douglas-fir and Western hemlock in lush forests, as well as in forested swamps and along streambanks. The tree is shade-tolerant, and able to reproduce under dense shade.

In the American horticultural trade, it is sometimes called Giant Arborvitae. The name Western redcedar is also sometimes split into three words as ‘Western Red Cedar’ (though this can be confusing, as it is not a true cedar).

Native American Uses

Western redcedar is one of the most culturally significant trees for Native American people of the Pacific Northwest. Its wood, bark, and branches have dozens of practical uses, ranging from tools and housing to cloth and ceremonial implements. Nearly every part of traditional indigenous culture uses redcedar in some fashion, and some northwest coast tribes even refer to themselves as “people of the redcedar,” so central it is to their identity and way of life.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: No
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 100-200ft
  • Mature Width:30ft

Oregon White Oak

Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana)
Quercus garryana

Oregon white oak, also known as Garry oak or Oregon oak, is a drought tolerant tree that grows slowly to around 65-80 ft. The leaves are deciduous, 3-6″ long and 2-5″ broad, with 7-9 deep lobes on each side. The flowers are catkins, the fruit a small acorn about 1″ long, with shallow, scaly cups.

In the Willamette Valley, oaks are common habitat for mistletoe Phoradendron flavescens and gall wasps Cynips maculipennis. Gall wasps have a unique survival strategy: they secrete chemicals that interfere with the oak’s normal growth hormones, which causes small, abnormal growths on the underside of leaves wherever eggs are laid. The gall grows around the developing gall wasp larvae and provides them food and shelter. Galls normally do not harm oaks, though heavy infestations can stress trees. The Garry oak is also the only known food for Bucculatrix zophopasta caterpillars.

History and uses

Before the European settlers came into the Willamette Valley, the oaks were mostly open-grown individual trees due to the burning practices of the native Calapuya people. Now, wildfires are almost unknown in the Willamette Valley. Since the settlers did not continue this practice, the intervening land was soon covered with seedling oaks (called “scrub oaks” by the settlers) which grew vertically and formed a closed canopy. Remnants of the old open-grown oaks are still found in these closed oak stands.

Although the wood has a beautiful grain, it is difficult to season without warping and therefore the Garry Oak has not historically been regarded as having any commercial value and is frequently destroyed as land is cleared for development. However, Garry Oaks and their ecosystems are the focus of conservation efforts, including in communities such as Oak Bay, British Columbia, which is named after the tree, and Corvallis, Oregon. Moreover, recently the wood, which is similar to that of other white oaks, has been used experimentally in Oregon for creating casks in which to age wine.

Oregon white oak ranges from southern California to extreme southwestern British Columbia, particularly southeastern Vancouver Island and the adjacent Gulf Islands. It grows from sea level to 210 m altitude in the northern part of its range, and at 300-1800 m in the south of the range in California. The tree is named after Nicholas Garry, deputy governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 1822-35.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Slow
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 25-70ft
  • Mature Width:30-60ft

Blue Elderberry

Blue elderberry (Sambucus caerulea)
Sambucus cerulea

Blue elderberry is a deciduous shrub to small tree with soft, pithy twigs and opposite-growing leaves divided into lance-shaped leaflets. Showy clusters of creamy-white flowers mature into small blue-black drupes covered in a white bloom.

Wildlife

The berries are a valuable food resource for many birds. Elders are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera (moth) species. Dead elder wood is the preferred habitat of the mushroom Auricularia auricula-judae, also known as Judas’ ear fungus or wood ear fungus.

Uses

The berries are best not eaten raw. Both flowers and berries can be made into elderberry wine, and Hungary produces elderberry brandy (requiring 50 kg of fruit to produce 1 liter of brandy).The berries can be made into jam, pies or Pontack sauce. All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides (Vedel & Lange 1960).

The flowers may be used to make an herbal tea, which is believed as a remedy for colds and fever. In Europe, the flowers are made into a syrup or cordial that is diluted with water before drinking. The popularity of this traditional drink has recently encouraged some commercial soft drink producers to introduce elderflower-flavored drinks. The flowers can also be used to make a mildly alcoholic, sparkling elderflower ‘champagne’.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes, but parts of the plant toxic
  • Mature Height: 10-25ft
  • Mature Width:18ft

False lily-of-the-valley

False lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilatatum)
Maianthemum dilatatum

The plant produces an erect, unbranched stem up to about 40 centimeters tall. A non-flowering shoot bears one smooth, waxy, shiny leaf up to 10 centimeters long and 5 to 8 broad, hence its scientific name (dilatatum means ‘broad’). On plants that are flowering, 2 or 3 leaves are produced oppositely on the stems. The leaf is oval in shape with a heart-shaped base. This attractive groundcover can spread vigorously when in planted in favorable conditions.

The inflorescence is an erect raceme with star-shaped white flowers. They each have four petals and four stamens. After fertilization the fruit produced is a berry 6 millimeters in diameter. The berry is speckled red when immature and solid red when ripe. Each has 1 to 4 seeds.


  • 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
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible:
  • Mature Height: 1ft
  • Mature Width:2-3ft

Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus)
Rubus parviflorus

Rubus parviflorus, commonly called thimbleberry, is a species of Rubus, native to western and northern North America, from Alaska east to Ontario and Michigan, and south to northern Mexico. It grows from sea level in the north, up to 2,500 m altitude in the south of the range.

It is a dense shrub up to 2.5 meters tall with canes no more than 1.5 centimeters in diameter, often growing in large clumps which spread through the plant’s underground rhizome. Unlike most other members of the genus, it has no prickles. The leaves are palmate, up to 20 centimeters across, with five lobes; they are soft and fuzzy in texture. The flowers are 2 to 6 centimeters in diameter, with five white petals and numerous pale yellow stamens. The flower of this species is among the largest of any Rubus species, making its Latin species name parviflorus (‘small-flowered’) a misnomer.

Like other raspberries it is not a true berry, but instead an aggregate fruit of numerous drupelets around a central core. The drupelets may be carefully removed separately from the core when picked, leaving a hollow fruit which bears a resemblance to a thimble, perhaps giving the plant its name. Thimbleberry fruits are larger, flatter, and softer than raspberries, and have many small seeds. Because the fruit is so soft, it does not pack or ship well, so thimbleberries are rarely cultivated commercially.

The species typically grows along roadsides, railroad tracks, and in forest clearings, commonly appearing as an early part of the ecological succession in clear cut and forest fire areas.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, 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: No
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 4-6ft
  • Mature Width:3-6ft
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