Category Archives: Small Trees and Large Shrubs

Pacific Serviceberry

Amelanchier alnifolia

Pacific serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) is a large shrub or small tree, with mature dimensions to 18’ by 10’, sometimes larger. Leaves are round to oval, 1-2 inches long and entire at base but serrate at the top. It bears fragrant white flowers from mid-spring to early summer followed by dark blue, edible pomes, ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.

Serviceberry is a common and wide-spread species, growing native from Alaska to California, and across Great Plains into eastern Canada. It grows in full sun to partial shade, and tolerates dry, moist, or wet soil. The best autumn color is found on shrubs in sunnier sites.

In additional to being edible, the plant has medicinal and other uses. Fruit is well-liked by wildlife and flowers attract pollinators.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 15-30ft
  • Mature Width:10-20ft

Red elderberry

Sambucus racemosa

Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) is a large shrub or small tree, with mature dimensions to 20 feet tall by 10 feet wide. It grows from full sun to full shade, and prefers moist to wet soil. It is deciduous with large, compound leaves. White flowers bloom from early-spring to mid summer in 1.5”-3” pyramidal clusters. Bright red berry-like drupes are toxic to humans unless properly cooked.

Red elderberry attracts hummingbirds, pollinators, and beneficial insects.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads:
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Toxic if eaten raw - must be properly cooked
  • Mature Height: 10-20ft
  • Mature Width:6-10ft

Chokecherry

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)
Prunus virginiana

Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) is a deciduous, thicket-forming shrub or small tree. Estimates for mature height vary widely from 12-40 feet. It bears ½-inch fragrant white flowers in cylindrical clusters, blooming late spring to mid summer. The leaves are oval, serrated, 2-4 inches long and pointed at the tip. The fruit is a ¼-½ inch cherry (drupe) that starts red and becomes purple or black. The fruit is considered edible but quite tart, and is more likely to be used for jellies or wine than eaten raw. The seeds (pits) are considered toxic as they contain cyanide.

Chokecherry is common across the United States with black (var. melanocarpa) and western (var. demissa) varieties occurring natively in Oregon.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Dry, Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 12-40ft
  • Mature Width:10-20ft

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

Pacific Crabapple

Pacific crabapple (Malus fusca)
Malus fusca

In the spring, small, pinkish-white fragrant blossoms hang in clusters from this native tree. By mid-summer, 3/4″ long crabapples appear. The fruits are quite sour, but appeal to birds and animals. The fruit turns yellow to reddish in the fall, and the leaves provide fall color in shades of orange and bright red.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Moderate
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: Yes
  • Mature Height: 30ft
  • Mature Width:25ft

Vine Maple

Vine maple (Acer circinatum)
Acer circinatum

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) is a species of maple native to western North America, from southwest British Columbia to northern California, always within 300 km of the Pacific Ocean coast.

It most commonly grows as a large shrub growing to around 5-8 m tall, but it will occasionally form a small to medium-sized tree, exceptionally to 18 m tall. The shoots are slender and hairless. It typically grows in the understory below much taller forest trees, but can sometimes be found in open ground, and occurs at altitudes from sea level up to 1,500 m.

The leaves are opposite, and palmately lobed with 7-11 lobes, almost circular in outline, 3-14 cm long and broad, and thinly hairy on the underside; the lobes are pointed and with coarsely toothed margins. The leaves turn bright yellow to orange-red in fall. The flowers are small, 6-9 mm diameter, with a dark red calyx and five short greenish-yellow petals; they are produced in open corymbs of 4-20 together in spring. The fruit is a two-seeded samara, each seed 8-10 mm diameter, with a spreading wing 2-4 cm long.

Vine Maple trees can bend over easily. Sometimes, this can cause the top of the tree to grow into the ground and send out a new root system, creating a natural arch.

It is occasionally cultivated outside its native range as an ornamental tree, from Juneau, Alaska and Ottawa, Ontario to Huntsville, Alabama, and also in northwestern Europe. It is closely related to Fullmoon Maple, Acer japonicum, and Korean Maple, Acer pseudosieboldianum, from eastern Asia, and is an excellent native alternative to these trees.

Wildlife uses

Vine maples are important trees for wildlife. They provide nesting sites and cover for many birds and mammals. The vireo often weaves basket-like nests that hang in the forks of the branches. Birds use the seed stalks and leaves for nest building. As a food source, squirrels, chipmunks and birds eat the seeds. The caterpillars of the Brown tissue and Polyphemus moths forage on the leaves of their host plant.


  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Moderate
  • Spreads: No
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Pest-eating Insects, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 20-25ft
  • Mature Width:15-20ft

Red-osier Dogwood

Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea)
Cornus sericea

Red-osier dogwood is a medium to tall deciduous shrub, growing 1.5-4 m tall and 3-5 m wide, spreading readily by underground stolons to form dense thickets. Cuttings readily root, and it is an excellent shrub for live-staking along stream banks and in wetlands. In the wild, it commonly grows in wetlands and other habitats with damp soil. The branches and twigs are dark red, though they may lack this coloration in shaded areas.

The ovate to oblong leaves are opposite, 5-12 cm long and 2.5-6 cm broad. In the fall, the leaves are commonly bright red to purple. The flowers are small (5-10 mm diameter), creamy white in color and growing in attractive clusters 3-6 cm diameter. This species lacks the showy, petal-like bracts commonly associated with other dogwood species. The fruit is a white berry 5-9 mm diameter.

Red-osier dogwood is a popular ornamental shrub, often planted for the red coloring of its twigs in the dormant season, attractive white spring flowers, and fall color. It is particularly useful for restoration sites, wet areas, and stream banks.

Red-osier dogwood is known by several Latin names, including Cornus sericea, Cornus stolonifera, and Swida sericea. Other common names include redtwig dogwood, red rood, American dogwood, and (subsp. occidentalis) Western dogwood. It is a variable species, with two subspecies commonly accepted:

  • Cornus sericea subsp. sericea – throughout the range of the species. Shoots and leaves hairless or finely pubescent; flower petals 2-3 mm.
  • Cornus sericea subsp. occidentalis (Torr. & A.Gray) Fosberg – western North America. Shoots and leaves densely pubescent; flower petals 3-4.5 mm.

  • Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Water Requirements: Moist, Seasonally Wet, Perennially Wet
  • Ease of Growing: Easy to grow
  • Growth Rate: Fast
  • Spreads: Yes
  • Wildlife Support: Pollinators, Hummingbirds, Birds or Mammals
  • Fire-resistant: Yes
  • Edible: No
  • Mature Height: 15ft
  • Mature Width:6-9ft
1 2