Category Archives: Native Plants

Mockorange

Mock orange (Philadephus lewisii)
Philadelphus lewisii

Philadelphus lewisii (Mockorange) is a deciduous shrub native to western North America. 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 pale green, opposite leaves are usually oval and 3-5 cm long and rough in texture. The fragrant white flowers are produced in clusters at the ends of long stems. 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.

Mockorange has many traditional cultural uses for Native Americans. The wood can be 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 is the state flower of Idaho.


  • 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
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 6-10ft
  • Mature Width:4-10ft

Douglas Spirea

Douglas spirea (Spiraea douglasii)
Spiraea douglasii

Commonly known as Douglas’s spiraea, hardhack or steeplebush. Large clusters of small pink flowers form spires in early summer, later turning dark and persisting. This erect shrub can be thicket-forming in marshy areas.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, 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
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 6ft
  • Mature Width:3-7ft

Red Columbine

Red columbine (Aquilegia formosa)
Aquilegia formosa

Red columbine (or Western columbine) is a common and attractive wildflower. It is native to western North America, from Alaska to Baja California and eastward to Montana and Wyoming. The name red columbine is also used for a number of other members of the genus Aquilegia.

Within its range, red columbine can be found across many habitats, including chaparral, oak woodland, and mixed-evergreen or coniferous forest. It prefers moist locations such as stream banks.

The plant grows to 8-48″ in height, averaging around 1-2ft. The red and yellow flowers appear from April to August (with some variation between regions), and are about 5 cm long. The red or orange spreading outer parts of the flower are sepals, and the yellow inner parts are the true petals. The petals bear spurs that attract the plant’s pollinators, sphinx moths.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 3ft
  • Mature Width:1-2ft
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