Amelanchier alnifolia (Western Serviceberry) - A choice deciduous shrub, Serviceberry reaches 6 – 10.’ Serviceberry is extremely hardy, ranging from the Pacific coast to the prairies, USDA zones, 3-10. Found on rocky, dry slopes and well-drained thickets, Serviceberry prefers full sun and, aside from a generous layer of mulch, will require minimal attention. This handsome shrub has outstanding blue-green foliage, delicate 2” flower clusters and brilliant red and yellow fall color. The pea size, purple fruits make fantastic pies and preserves. They were highly esteemed by Native groups and used to improve the flavor of less desirable berries. Not only humans love these fruit - wildlife of all varieties will come for a taste! I strongly recommend this plant for all native plant gardens.
Corylus cornuta var. californica (Western Hazelnut) - An attractive, small tree reaching 20 – 30’ tall and 6’ wide, with multiple arching branches. The long, pendant male catkins form in late winter to give charm and ornamental value and are the first native blooms of spring. The leaves resemble large, crinkled birch or alder leaves, although far more decorative. The bark is smooth and the twigs often crisscross beautifully. Squirrels like the edible nuts, as do many people! Western hazelnut is shade and moisture tolerant and prefers a slightly alkaline soil. This variety is native only to the west coast, but hardy USDA zones 4-8. With a little effort, Western hazelnut can be trained to form a unique hedge, offering a bounty of nutritious, gourmet snacks. It's a tough species that survives attacks of civilization with grace, making an excellent tree for city planting. Not available for sale in Oregon unless approved by Dept. of Agriculture.
Crataegus douglasii (Douglas Hawthorn, Black Hawthorn) - This delightful tree grows slowly to 10,’ sometimes reaching 20 - 30.’ A hardy tree, it is indigenous along the coast between Alaska and California and inland from New Mexico to Saskatchewan, USDA zones 3–9. Black hawthorn is distinguished by its pendulous branches with dark, shiny, deeply serrated leaves and sharp thorns ½ -1” long, and dense, clusters of intricate, rose-like flowers - simply spectacular. In restoration, the deep roots stabilize the soil. In the garden, this tree attracts birds, butterflies and the most welcomed of garden visitors, the ladybug. This versatile tree prefers full sun and is drought resistant while also tolerating brief periods of flooding. The black berries or haws are edible and make tasty pies and preserves.
Fragaria chiloensis (Coastal Strawberry) - A superb evergreen ground cover, Coastal strawberry does well in sun or partial shade. True to its name, this strawberry is native to beach areas and other inhospitable growing sites from Alaska to Chile and in Hawaii as well (USDA 7-10). It spreads by runners to forms low, compact mats, 6 - 12" high. The leaves are leathery with red tints in winter. Large white flowers in the spring are followed by delectable berries that put store-bought berries to shame!
Fragaria vesca (Wood's Strawberry, Woodland Strawberry) - This fine, deciduous strawberry has small, delicious fruit. Light green, sharply toothed, clover-like leaves distinguish this plant. With long runners, it spreads easily to make a nice ground cover. Found in the wild in shaded sites from southern BC to California (USDA 5-9), it is more common on the West side of the Cascades than the East side.
Fragaria virginiana var. platypetala (Wild Strawberry) - Similar to the Wood's Strawberry, bluish green top leaves distinguish this species. With its bright white flowers and delicious fruit, this deciduous, low-growing plant, reaches only 2-5” in height. Tucked among larger plants, they cover the ground to hold soil, retain moisture and keep youngsters entertained treasure hunting for the delicious berries on warm summer days. Wild strawberry is more common on the East side of the Cascades, but it is also found on the Western side. Usually occurring at higher elevations than the other Fragaria species, Wild strawberry grows on rocky slopes in full sun and often follows the path of rainwater runoff. It is hardy between USDA zones 4-10.
Gaultheria shallon (Salal) - This sturdy evergreen shrub is found widely along the Pacific Coast and is hardy in USDA zones 8-10. Salal grows from 3 - 6,' mostly under evergreens where it spreads quickly to form dense thickets. Its dark green, lustrous leaves are popular among commercial florists. White or pink flowers in late spring attract hummingbirds. The fruits are plentiful and delicious, prized by hikers, small children, Native groups and bears. Use Salal under evergreens & deciduous trees where most shrubs will not survive or as a low-maintenance ground cover. Salal is extremely adaptable, thriving in sun, shade, humus, infertile, dry or moist soils. It requires little care once established.
Mahonia [Berberis] aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape) - This superb evergreen shrub is the State flower of Oregon. Hardy in USDA zones 5-10, it is at home along the Pacific Coast from BC to northern California. Oregon Grape can reach 10' tall, but is usually 5' in gardens. In spring, large clusters of small golden flowers unfurl from shiny green, holly-like foliage. New growth is copper color in the spring. The blue fruits are tart and improve after frost. They are often gathered for jelly or wine. Used to treat a wide variety of ailments, Oregon Grape species contain the extremely potent alkaloid, berberine, (also found in goldenseal) which is antiseptic and stimulates the liver and spleen. Use this plant for hedges, borders and drifts. It flourishes in sun or shade and is highly drought tolerant: perfect for the Northwest.
Malus [Pyrus] fusca (Western Crabapple) - Often growing in thickets, this small tree grows moderately fast to reach 40.’ It is native to low elevations from coastal Alaska to northwestern California, USDA zones 6 – 9. Its leaves resemble those of cultivated apple tree leaves, turning red or orange in autumn. The branches are armed with distinctly sharp spur-shoots. White, clustered flowers are smaller than those of cultivated apples but equally fragrant. Fruits are but 1/2" and hang in clusters on long stems. These tart fruits can be picked when immature and stored until ripe – a wise idea as the birds may otherwise beat you to the tasty fruit! Crabapples make a flavorful juice (yielding as much as 2 cups of nutritious juice per lb. of fruit!) or jelly. Crabapples like moist areas and sun or shade.
Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum, Oso Berry) - A harbinger of spring, with pendant, greenish-white clusters of flowers in early March, Indian Plum grows rapidly to 15 - 20.' The many long, slender stems grow erect in full sun but in the dappled shade they arch majestically. The foliage is a cheerful lime green, turning yellow in autumn. In early summer, olive size, bittersweet, purple berries dot the branches but are almost immediately eaten by birds. Native groups collected the berries for eating. Indian Plum is found from BC to California, west of the Cascade Mountains, USDA zones 8-9. It prefers moist sites in full to partial shade but will survive in full sun.
Ribes divaricatum (Black Gooseberry) - A common gooseberry found along the coast from British Columbia to California at lower elevations in USDA zones 7-8. This gooseberry was found in Lewis and Clark’s collection of plants. It is not as shrub like as many gooseberries are; instead it produces arching canes that root as they touch the ground and eventually form thickets. The racemes of bell shaped flowers range from green to a reddish purple and the round edible berries are smooth and nearly black when ripe. This gooseberry has few thorns in clusters of three and has three lobed leaves. Coast Black Gooseberry grows best in moist open areas especially along stream banks.
Rubus leucodermis (Blackcap, Whitebark Raspberry) - Do not be confused by the black color of the ripe berries, they are actually classified as raspberries because the fruit comes off without the core. The growth habit is shrubby with arching whitish canes that will root and form into a thicket. Native berries will spread but are not as invasive as alien species; this one is native to Alaska and all of the Western States USDA zones 1-8. Blackcaps are frequently found growing in open sunny sites that have been disturbed or clear-cut. Native Americans used the berries for food and once used them to make dye. The shoots were also eaten and have medicinal properties. Black caps make good jams and jellies and are beneficial as food for wildlife. (I have eaten these in the wild and wow they are good. I have some plants in my yard. - Dave)
Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) - This attractive native bramble shrub is the favourite of hummingbirds and was highly esteemed by Coastal Natives. Growing fast and erect, bushes reach 6' with a 6' spread. The large, reddish-purple flowers give way to yellow-rose tinted, edible berries. Their taste varies radically from bush to bush. Salmonberry is found in open forest areas, in sun or part shade, usually following a disturbance. Hardy from USDA zone 5-9, Salmonberry grows along the Pacific Coast from Alaska to California.
Rubus ursinus (Pacific Blackberry) - A small bramble shrub, this is the only native blackberry in the Pacific Northwest. It occurs from Baja, California to BC and east to Idaho, USDA zones 5-10. It does well with small amounts of irrigation and thrives everywhere from sun to full shade. Many claim that its small black berries are the tastiest blackberries - wonderful pies!
Sambucus mexicana [cerulea] (Blue Elderberry) - This handsome, deciduous shrub, with its multiple stems, reaches 6-12’ in little time. The bright green leaves grow from stems as pithy as raspberry canes and surround the distinct flat-topped clusters of flowers. Shrubs yield an impressive amount of delectable, blue-black berries with a high vitamin content that are used in pies, wines and preserves. Birds and other wildlife flock to the berries as they ripen. Do take care not to eat the berries uncooked and remember that the roots, leaves and bark contain cyanide and must be avoided. Blue elderberry is generally an interior rather than coastal plant found from Alberta to New Mexico and west to the Pacific Coast (USDA 5-10). It grows well in sun or shade and tolerates a moderately dry site.
Vaccinium membranaceum (Mountain Huckleberry) - A tall, deciduous shrub, Mountain Huckleberry is common at mid- to high elevations in open areas, especially after a forest fire. Found from Alaska to California and east to the Great Lakes (USDA 3-10), it is versatile and does fine at lower elevations. While it prefers moist sites, it can survive seasonal drought. This huckleberry has fine, oval leaves that turn vibrant shades of fire red or maroon in the fall. The flowers are yellow-pink and small, while the purple to black, shiny fruit are delicious for pies and jam (that is if you manage to not eat them all when picking them – a definite challenge!).
Vaccinium parvifolium (Red Huckleberry) - ”Parviflorum” means “small-leafed” and indeed the foliage and twigs are delicate on this shrub. Tiny greenish to flesh-colored flowers tuck themselves along the green twigs. Fruits are an attractive salmon-egg red and very tasty, although maybe not as plentiful as the other two species. They are relished by many wild animals and were held in high regard by Native groups. Growing from 3-12,’ Red Huckleberry is widespread in the Northwest. It is hardy from USDA 6-10. It prefers partial shade and rotted log material. An excellent neighbor for the Pacific Rhodie.
Viburnum edule (Squashberry, Moosewood Viburnum) - This fine deciduous shrub grows rapidly to 4.’ The leaves have three lobes with sharp serrations and turn bright red in autumn. When they fall, the smooth reddish bark is visible. The flowers are small and gorgeous, in 1” bouquets. The bright red berries are tart and juicy and remain on the bush throughout the winter. They make a wonderful cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving and can be picked throughout the fall and winter. In fact, a touch of frost will bring up their sugar and Vitamin C content. Occurring in moist woods and swamps throughout North America and in Eastern Asia, Squashberry is hardy from USDA zones 5-9. Limited quantity; this species is very hard to find commercially.
Vitis californica (Western Wild Grape) - This deciduous, climbing vine grows to 30’ and can also be allowed to sprawl as a unique ground cover. The leaves are large with 3-5 lobes. Bees are attracted to the flowers and birds to the small purple edible grapes. In fall, the plant embraces Van Gogh’s glorious palette – all shades of yellow, orange and red in dizzying combinations! This wild grape is native to riparian areas in Oregon and California, USDA zones 7-10. It is useful in restoration projects as it is easy to establish. It prefers moist sites but will not survive in standing water. Interestingly, this species is resistant to phylloxera aphids that nearly destroyed the wine industry in the late 19th century. Presently, most commercially-grown grapes have been grafted on to V. Californica rootstock.