Author Archives: habitatdana

Common Snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus

Common Snowberry           Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

 Symphoricarpos albus (L.) S.F. Blake

(sim-for-ih-CAR-poes  AL-bus)

Names: Symphori- means “bear together;” –carpos means fruits– referring to the clustered fruits.  Albus meaning white, and the common name, Snowberry also refers to the white fruits.  This species is sometimes known as Waxberry, White Coralberry, or White, Thin-leaved, or Few-flowered Snowberry.

Relationships: The genus Symphoricarpos has about 15 species, mostly native to North and Central America, with one from western China; 12 are found in the United States.  Western Snowberry, S. occidentalis, and Mountain Snowberry, S. oreophilis, are mostly found on the east side of the Cascades.  Trailing Snowberry, S. hesperius will be discussed in the groundcover section.  S. albus var. laevigatus (meaning smooth) is the most common phase found on the Pacific slopes and is more aggressive than the eastern form; it has also been known as S. rivularis or S. racemosa var. laevigatus.  It is more aggressive and differs from the S. albus var. albus by being larger, with larger berries and less hairy twigs and leaves.  It often escapes cultivation in the eastern United States, and has naturalized in parts of Britain.

Distribution of Common Snowberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Common Snowberry is found from southeast Alaska to southern California; all across the northern United States and the Canadian provinces.

Growth: This species usually grows 3-9 feet (1-2m) tall.

Habitat: It is found in in dry to moist open forests, clearings, and rocky slopes. It is very adaptable to different conditions. Wetland designation: FACU, it usually occurs in non-wetlands but occasionally is found in wetlands.

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Oval leaves are opposite with smooth or wavy-toothed margins; sometimes hairy on the undersides; often larger and irregularly lobed on sterile shoots.  Flowers are small, pink to white bells in dense, few-flowered clusters.  Fruit are white berry-like drupes containing two nutlets.

Leaves can be entire or lobed.

In the Landscape: Common Snowberry has long been grown as an ornamental shrub.  Winter is its most conspicuous season, where its white berries stand out against leafless branches.  Its dainty pinkish flowers are also attractive.  Common Snowberry spreads by root suckers and is best given plenty of space to create a wild thicket.  It tolerates poor soil and neglect.  It is great for controlling erosion on slopes, riparian plantings, for restoration and mine reclamation projects. It is also popular in Rain Gardens.

Phenology: Bloom time: May-August; Fruit ripens: September-October, persisting through winter.

 

 

Propagation: Stratify seeds warm for 90 days, then stratify for 180 days at 40º (4º C), or sow as soon as seeds are ripe in a cold frame.  Cuttings of half-ripe wood may be taken in July or August or of mature wood in winter.  Suckers may be divided in the dormant season.  Plants resprout from rhizomes after a fire.

 

Use by People:  Snowberries are high in saponins, which are poorly absorbed by the body.  Although they are largely considered poisonous, (given names like ‘corpse berry’ or ‘snake’s berry’), some tribes ate them fresh or dried them for later consumption.  The berries were used as a shampoo to clean hair.  Crushed berries were also rubbed on the skin to treat burns, warts, rashes and sores; and rubbed in armpits as an antiperspirant.  Various parts were infused and used as an eyewash for sore eyes.  A tea made from the roots was used for stomach disorders; a tea made from the twigs was used for fevers.  Branches were tied together to make brooms.  Bird arrows were also made from the stems.

Use by Wildlife: Saponins are much more toxic to some animals, such as fish; hunting tribes sometimes put large quantities of snowberries in streams or lakes to stupefy or kill fish. “The Green River tribe say that when these berries are plentiful, there will be many dog salmon, for the white berry is the eye of the dog salmon.” Common snowberry is an important browse for deer, antelope, and Bighorn Sheep; use by elk and moose varies.  The berries are an important food for grouse, grosbeaks, robins and thrushes.  Bears also eat the fruit.  The shrub provides good cover and nesting sites for gamebirds, rabbits, and other small animals.  Pocket gophers burrow underneath it. The pink flowers attract hummingbirds, but are mostly pollinated by bees.  The leaves are eaten by the Sphinx Moth larvae.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Black Twinberry Lonicera involucrata

Black Twinberry                       Caprifoliaceae-the Honeysuckle Family

Lonicera involucrata (Richardson) Banks ex Spreng.

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  in-voh-loo-KRAY-tuh)

Names:  Black Twinberry is also known as Involucred, Bracted, Bearberry, Fly or Fourline Honeysuckle; or Coast Twinberry.  Involucrata refers to the involucres, or bracts that surround the flowers and fruit. Twinberry refers to the 2 berries surrounded by the bracts.

Relationships:  Honeysuckles have long been a garden favorite, grown mostly for their sweetly-scented, nectar-producing flowers.  The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat.  Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557).  Unfortunately, many invasive ornamental species of Lonicera may be found growing in natural areas.

Distribution of Black Twinberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution:  This species is found from southeast Alaska to southern California; across most of Canada; from western Montana to Chihuahua in northern Mexico; with isolated communities in the Great Lakes region; listed as endangered in Wisconsin and threatened in Michigan.

Growth:  It grows from 1.5-9 feet (.5-3m)

Habitat: Black Twinberry is found in moist, open forests, streamsides, and edges.  Wetland designation: FAC+*, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Black Twinberry has opposite leaves that are broadly lance-shaped. It has paired, tubular, yellow flowers arising from the leaf axils.  The flowers are 5-lobed, surrounded by large, green or purple bracts.  Fruits are shiny, black “twin” berries surrounded by purplish-red bracts.  Young, green twigs are 4-angled in cross-section.

 

In the Landscape:  It is an attractive shrub and should be used more in the garden.  It is a great “edge” species when planted between a forest and more open area.  It can be used in a hedgerow or in a Rain Garden.  Its fresh, green leaves are similar to Indian Plum; and its dainty, yellow flowers and colorful bracts add interest throughout spring, summer, and fall. Black Twinberry is great for reclamation plantings on riparian sites, in wet meadows and in forests.

Phenology: Bloom time:  April-August (May at peak); Fruit ripens: September.

 

 

Propagation:  Stratify seeds at 38º (3º C) for 120 days or sow them as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood may be taken in July or August or of mature wood in November.  Layering in the fall is also possible.

Use by People: Natives used the leaves, bark and twigs for a variety of medicinal purposes. An infusion of bark was used as a soak for sore feet and legs, as an eyewash, or in the treatment of coughs.  Women chewed the leaves during confinement.  Leaves were also chewed and applied to itchy skin and various sores.  The berries were mostly considered poisonous, but were sometimes eaten for food.  The fruit or leaves were used to induce vomiting for purification or after poisoning.  The berries were applied to the scalp to prevent dandruff or to prevent hair from turning gray.  The juice of the berries was used to paint the faces of dolls and for basketry dye.

Use by Wildlife: Most tribes associate this plant with the crow; other birds such as grouse, grosbeaks, juncos, waxwings, thrushes, flickers, finches, and quail eat the berries too.  Bears also eat the berries.  Black Twinberry provides cover for small animals.  Although hummingbirds may visit Twinberry flowers, they are mostly pollinated by insects, as are many “Fly Honeysuckles.”

 Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

Red Twinberry

Lonicera utahensis S. Watson

Red Twinberry is similar to Black Twinberry but has more rounded leaves and lacks the big bracts surrounding the flowers and fruit; it has red fruit and its flowers are a creamy-yellow, nearly white.  It is found from southern British Columbia to central Oregon in the Olympic Mountains, North Cascades, and central Oregon; and in the Rocky Mountains from Alberta to the border of Arizona and New Mexico.  It can be used similarly in the landscape as Black Twinberry.  It is a valuable summer and fall browse for elk, but a minor browse species for white-tailed deer and moose.  Fruits are dispersed by birds, such as grouse, rodents, and bears.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

There are two other smaller Honeysuckle shrubs that may be encountered in the Pacific Northwest. Bluefly Honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea var. cauriana has white “twin” flowers and grows 0.5-6 feet (0.2-m) tall.  The Eurasian variety, Sweetberry Honeysuckle, Lonicera caerulea var. edulis is widely grown in Russia for its edible blue berries; ours have red berries (a thin fleshy cup).  Purpleflower Honeysuckle or Boob-berry, Lonicera conjugialis grows 0.5-4.5 feet (0.6-1.5m) and has reddish-purple flowers followed by paired red berries that are often fused together.  Both are found mostly in the mountains; from Mount Adams, in Washington, through the Cascades in Oregon to the Sierras of California, with a few in the northern Rockies.  Both bloom in June or July; and may be good choices in a landscape where smaller shrubs are desired.

           

 

 

Hairy Honeysuckle, Lonicera hispidula

Hairy Honeysuckle

 Lonicera hispidula (Lindl.) Douglas ex Torr. & A. Gray

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  hisp-ih-DOO-luh)

Lonicera hispidulaNames:  Hairy Honeysuckle is also called Pink Honeysuckle or California (Pink or Hairy) Honeysuckle.  Hispidula means covered with bristly hairs. The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557).

Relationships: Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa.

 

 

 

Distribution of Hairy Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Hairy Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Hairy Honeysuckle is native from Vancouver Island, in British Columbia to southern California; on the west side of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon; in the Sierras and coastal mountains of California.

Growth: More often a sprawling, shrubby vine, it may also climb up to 3-18 feet (1-6m).

Habitat: It grows in open forests, on drier south, or west slopes, but often grows in coastal riparian areas in California.

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Opposite leaves are variously hairy, sometimes smooth; with the terminal pair joined to form a disc.  Pink (or yellow tinged with pink), tubular flowers are born in terminal clusters, accompanied by a pair of axillary clusters.  The flowers are two-lipped with the lips about as long as the tube; curling back as the flowers open.  Fruits are bright red berries.  Stems are hollow.

In the Landscape:  Hairy Honeysuckle can be used as a ground cover on a dry slope or may be trained on a trellis.  Its attractive, pink flowers are another hummingbird favorite, so it is also a good choice for a wildlife garden.

Phenology: Bloom time: June-August; Fruit ripens: September.

Propagation: Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame or stratify for 90 days at 40º (4º C).  Cuttings root easily; they are best taken of half-ripe wood in July or August or mature wood in November.

Use by people: Natives in California used the hollow stems for pipe stems and the burned wood ashes for tattooing.

Use by Wildlife: The flowers provide nectar for hummingbirds.  The berries are eaten by grouse, pheasants, flickers, robins, thrushes, bluebirds, waxwings, grosbeaks, finches, and juncos. Small birds may make nests within the twining branches.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Trumpet Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa

Trumpet Honeysuckle

Lonicera ciliosa (Pursh) Poir. ex DC.

(Lon-IH-sir-ruh  sill-ee-OH-suh)

Trumpet HoneysuckleNames:    Honeysuckles have long been a garden favorite, grown mostly for their sweetly-scented, nectar-producing flowers.  The common name, honeysuckle, comes from the fact that children enjoy sucking nectar from the base of the flowers for a sweet treat. This species is also known as Orange Honeysuckle, Northwest Honeysuckle, or Western Trumpet.  The name Lonicera is derived from Adamus Lonicerus (Adam Lonitzer), a German botanist, author of the herbal, Kräuterbuch (1557). Ciliosa, which means having small, fringe-like hairs like eyelashes, refers to the hairy edges of the leaves.

Relationships: Plants in the genus, Lonicera, are often twining vines but many are arching shrubs.  There are about 180 species in the Northern Hemisphere, with about 100 from China, ~20 from North America, and the rest from Europe or North Africa. A similar species, Limber Honeysuckle, L. dioca, found in British Columbia, has light yellow flowers. Unfortunately, many invasive ornamental species of Lonicera may be found growing in natural areas.

Distribution of Trumpet Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Trumpet Honeysuckle from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Trumpet Honeysuckle is native from British Columbia to northern California, mostly west of the Cascades; but also can be found in the Idaho panhandle and neighboring Montana; and isolated communities in Utah and Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

Growth: Trumpet Honeysuckle is a twining or trailing vine climbing up to 18 feet (6m).

Lonicera ciliosa vine

Habitat: It is found in open woods, or along edges of forests.

Tubular flowers flare to 5 lobes at the end.

Tubular flowers flare to 5 lobes at the end.

Diagnostic Characters: Although the leaves of young seedlings are often very hairy, similar to Hairy Honeysuckle, mature opposite leaves are mostly smooth, large, and oval with the end-pair on each twig joined together at their base;  Terminal flower clusters arise from these disc-like leaves; bearing several orange, trumpet-shaped flowers that flare to 5 lobes at the end.  Fruits are bunches of orange-red, translucent berries.  Twining, freely branching stems are hollow.

The tubular orange red flowers are hummingbird-adapted.

The tubular orange red flowers are hummingbird-adapted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape:    In the wild, Trumpet Honeysuckle, climbs or rambles over trees and shrubs.  In the garden, it needs support and may need a little training to grow on a trellis, arbor, or along other structural elements in your outdoor living space.  With its orange, trumpet-shaped flowers, it is the classic hummingbird flower and should be included in any wildlife garden.

Trumpet Honeysuckle flowers

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Fruit ripens: September.

Fruits are translucent red berries.

Fruits are translucent red berries.

Propagation:  Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe in a cold frame or stratify for 90 days at 40º F (4º C).  Cuttings root easily; they are best taken of half-ripe wood in July or August or mature wood in November.

 

 

 

 

 

Use by People: An infusion of the leaves or bark were used for medicinal purposes, mostly for womb trouble, to stimulate lacteal flow, a contraceptive, colds and sore throat, and tuberculosis.  It was also used externally as a strengthening tonic, to bathe children with epilepsy, and to bathe little girls to make their hair grow long and sleek.  The stems were used for building materials; the fiber for twine and thread.  And of course, the flowers were sucked by children for the sweet nectar!

Use by Wildlife: Trumpet Honeysuckle is known as Ghost’s Swing or Owl’s Swing in Coast Salish languages, the Snohomish say the crows swing on it.  The flowers are extremely attractive to hummingbirds.  The orange-red berries, although not a favorite, are eaten by a variety of birds including robins, juncos, flickers, and finches.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Devil’s Club, Oplopanax horridus

Devil’s Club                                               Araliaceae-The Ginseng Family

Oplopanax horridus (Sm.) miq.

(awp-lo-PAN-ax  HOR-id-us)

devils-club-plantNames: The genus name, Oplopanax, is derived from hoplon, meaning weapon and panakos meaning panacea or “all-heal”—referring to the medicinal qualities of these shrubs and their relationship to the well-known Asian herb, Ginseng, Panax ginseng.  Oplopanax is sometimes misspelled, Ophlopanax. Both the common name and specific epithet, horridus, refer to its spiny, wicked-looking appearance.  Scientific synonyms include: Echinopanax horridum or horridus, Fatsia horridum, Panax horridum, and Ricinophyllum horridum.

Relationships: The genus Oplopanax consists of only 3 species in North America and northeastern Asia. Devil’s Club is the only Oplopanax species found in North America

Distribution of Devil's Club from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Devil’s Club from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: It is mostly in the west; from southern Alaska and the Yukon Territory to southwestern Oregon in the west; to Alberta, the Idaho panhandle and neighboring Montana in the east; with a disjunctive population on islands in Lake Superior; (listed as threatened in Michigan).

 

 

 

Growth: Devil’s Club grows erect to 3-9 feet (1-3m) tall or sprawling, growing in clumps.

Devil's Club often grows by streams and rivers.

Devil’s Club often grows by streams and rivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat: It is found in moist woods, especially along streams. Wetland designation: FAC+, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

oplopanax-forest

Diagnostic Characters: Leaves are large, palmately lobed, similar to a maple leaf, with numerous spines along the veins on the undersides, and along the petioles.  Flowers are small and whitish, borne in globe-shaped clusters arranged on a tall, pyramidal spike.  The bright-red berries are somewhat flattened.  The very thick stems are covered with yellowish spines.

oplopanax-horridus-plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Landscape: Although this plant has been called “fearsome” and “formidable,” it is boldly attractive.  Due to its spreading, mounding form and its large, maple-like leaves it can’t help but draw your attention.  In the wild, the stems can create an extensive spiny barrier to hikers desiring to get to a woodland stream.  In the garden, it needs to be given plenty of room, in a moist spot, where it is unlikely to be closely encountered.  In late summer, spikes of red berries make a striking contrast against a sea of green.

devils-club-flowerPhenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Fruit ripens: June-August, persisting over winter.

devils-club-berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation:  Seed can be sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe in the fall. Stratifying at 40º (4º C) for 30 days is optional according to one source; another source recommends a 72 hour running water soak, followed by an alternating 100 day cold, 100 day warm, 100 day cold moist stratification regime.  Either way, seeds may take up to 18 months or more to germinate. Cuttings or layering are possible; stem cuttings from horizontal branches in late spring to early summer; or root cuttings taken in winter.  Division of suckers during the dormant season or judicious digging of small plants in the wild may be the easiest propagation method.

Use by People: Devil’s Club was, and still is, an important medicinal herb for many native tribes.  The greenish, inner bark of the roots was the part most often used.  It was chewed or boiled to treat many ailments, including aches and pains (especially due to arthritis), sores and wounds, colds and flu, digestive disorders, lung ailments, cancer, diabetes and before and after childbirth.  It was also used for cleansing.  The inner bark was chewed during purification or power-seeking rituals by hunters, warriors and shamans.  The ash of stems was mixed with grease to rub on swellings and to make a reddish brown tattoo paint used by dancers.  The berries are considered poisonous but have been mashed, rubbed into a foam on the scalp to combat lice and dandruff, and to make the hair shiny.  The wood has been used to make lures and hooks for fishing.  Bark shavings were mixed with different berries to make paint or basket dye. The young, spring buds were sometimes boiled and eaten.  The spiny stems were used as protective charms against supernatural powers.  Devil’s Club was considered an all around good luck plant!

devils-club-with-ferns

Use by Wildlife: Deer and elk may browse Devil’s club lightly in spring and summer.  Devil’s Club growing along streams provides shade and cover for salmon and their eggs.  Bear prefer these areas because of the readily available fish and berries! Bear also eat Devil’s Club leaves and stems.  Devil’s club provides cover for various birds and rodents.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Pacific Poison Oak, Toxicodendron diversilobum

Pacific Poison-Oak             Anacardiaceae–The Sumac or Cashew Family

Toxicodendron diversilobum (Torr. & A. Gray) Greene

(Tox-ih-ko-DEN-drun  die-vers-ih-LO-bum)

toxicodendron-diversilobumNames:  Pacific Poison-Oak belongs to a genus of plants well known to cause severe skin irritation after contact.  Toxicodendron means “poison tree.” Diversilobum means “different lobes,” due to its irregularly lobed leaflets that resemble oak leaves.  This species may also be called Western or California Poison-Oak or Yeara.

 

Relationships:  Members of this genus were formerly included in Rhus (the sumac genus).  There are five species native to North America, including Poison-Ivy, T. radicans, of the eastern United States; and at least one species in South America and several more native to Asia.

Distribution of Poison Oak from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Poison Oak from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: It is found from Vancouver Island and nearby islands in British Columbia to Baja California, mostly on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon.  In Washington, it is most common on Puget Sound islands and nearby shorelines, and along the Columbia River.   It is very common on the west side of the Sierra Nevadas and in the Mojave Desert in California.

 

 

 

 

 

 

climbing-poison-oakGrowth: Pacific Poison-Oak is usually a shrub growing 3-6 feet (1-2m) tall, but sometimes is a vine growing up to 45 feet (15m).  As a vine, a Poison-oak climbs trees or other supports by adventitious roots or by wedging stems within crevices.

Poison oak is usually a shrub but will sometimes grow as a vine up a tree.

Poison oak is usually a shrub but will sometimes grow as a vine up a tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Habitat: It grows in acid soils on dry to moist, rocky slopes or riparian zones; most often with a southerly exposure in the Puget Sound Region.

poison-oak-flowers

Diagnostic Characters: If it has “leaves of 3, let it be!” is a well-known warning referring to Poison-oaks and Poison-ivies.  It is a useful identification characteristic, although sometimes there are five leaflets per leaf.  Leaflets are irregularly lobed or scalloped, similar to an oak leaf. or sometimes just wavy or nearly entire. Leaves growing in the sun are often thicker and more waxy. Leaves growing in the shade on climbing vines are often thinner and duller.  Small greenish-ivory flowers are borne in axillary clusters; with male and female flowers on different plants.  Smooth, white fruits are berry-like.  Seeds are white or tan and deeply grooved.  Stems exude a milky juice when cut.

 

In the Landscape: Poison oak is not usually grown in a garden, unless it is a specialty poison garden. It does however have attractive fall foliage of a pinkish hue. In fact, people will sometimes unknowingly pick up the pink leaves on an autumn hike because they are pretty.

Poison Oak has attractive Pink leaves in Autumn.

Poison Oak has attractive Pink leaves in Autumn.

 

poison-oak-berriesPhenology: Bloom time: April-June; Fruit ripens: August

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation: Seed is best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soaking  the seed for 24 hours in hot water prior to sowing in order helps to leach out any germination inhibitors. Cuttings of half-ripe wood are best taken in July/August.

toxicodendron-diversilobum-plant

Use by People: Natives used the stems for basketry. Leaves and roots were used for various medicinal purpose. A black dye was made from the ashes or juice of the plant. The resins of some Asian species are used to make lacquer.

Use by Wildlife: The berries have high wildlife value for birds and small mammals, especially Flickers, other woodpeckers and squirrels. Deer will browse the foliage. The shrub is used for nesting and cover by some bird species.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Red Stem Ceanothus, Ceanothus sanguineus

Redstem Ceanothus                Rhamnaceae– The Buckthorn Family

Ceanothus sanguineus Pursh

(See-uh-NO-thus   sang-GWIN-ee-us)

Names: Redstem Ceanothus is also known as Redstem Wild Lilac, Redstem Buckbrush, Oregon Tea Tree, Northern Buckbrush, or “Soapbloom.”  Sanguineus means blood red, referring to the stems or flower stalks.

Relationships: The genus Ceanothus consists of about 60 shrubs or small trees found only in North America with about 40 occurring only in California.  Many have blue or purple flowers, earning the genus the common name, “Wild Lilacs,” but our creamy white-flowered northwestern species are generally called “Buckbrushes.” Snowbrush, Ceanothus velutinus, is discussed in the evergreen shrub section. Red Stem Ceanothus is very similar to Snowbrush, it mainly differs in that it its leaves and stipules are deciduous and its stems are red.

Distribution of Red Stem Ceanothus from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Red Stem Ceanothus from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: This species is native on both sides of the Cascades from British Columbia to northern California; eastward to western Montana, with reported occurrences in South Dakota and on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan (Listed as threatened in Michigan).

Growth: It grows 3-9 feet (1-3m) tall .

Habitat: This species grows in dry open sites and forest edges, often in recently burned areas. Wetland designation: It almost always occurs in non-wetlands areas in our region.

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: The leaves of Redstem Ceanothus are thinner than those of C. velutinus; but similarly are finely toothed and oval with 3 main veins branching from the base of the leaf.  Flowers are fragrant, small and white in clusters at the ends of side branches.  Fruits are 3-chambered explosive capsules, each with a shiny brown seed.  Smooth, greenish stems turn purplish-red.

In the Landscape: The white flowers are showy in early summer and the reddish stems are attractive in the winter.  Redstem Ceanothus also is able to fix nitrogen so is good for areas with poor soils.

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Capsules ripen: June-August.

Propagation:  Seeds usually germinate after a fire.  They have a hard seed coat and dormant embryos; and require heat (185-212º F, 85-100º C) or treatment with sulfuric acid for 20 to 30 minutes followed by a neutralization of lime or by water and a 48 hour running water soak; then a 90 day cold stratification period.  Semi-hardwood cuttings in May have the best success, treated with 2000ppm IBA and placed in a mist bed with bottom heat.—just the right amount of moisture is critical—too much and the cuttings will rot.  This plant is not often available nurseries due to its difficult propagation requirements.

Use by People: A tea has been made from the leaves; a poultice of the dried, powdered bark has been applied to burns, sores and wounds; and a green dye was made from the flowers.  It was called “Soapbloom” because all parts of the plant contains saponin, and was mixed with water and beaten into a soapy foam.   The foam is good for cleaning dirt but does not remove oil; so it will not dry skin.  The flowers, especially, were nice for use as a body soap because of their pleasant perfume.  Natives burned the wood for fuel and to smoke deer meat.

Use by Wildlife: Redstem Ceanothus is a favorite browse species of elk and deer as are other Buckbrushes.  Snowshoe Hares also eat the foliage and rodents eat the seedlings.  Birds, rodents, ants, and other insects consume large amounts of the seeds.  The shrub provides good cover for birds and small mammals. Flowers are pollinated by bees.  Ceanothus sanguineus is a larval host for the Pale Swallowtail Butterfly.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

  Deerbrush , Ceanothus integerrimus, is another similar species found from the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State to Baja California; also in Arizona and New Mexico.  Integerrimus means completely entire, not toothed, referring to its leaves.  Deerbrush grows in dry, open forests; it is drought-deciduous, meaning that most leaves are shed during dry summers and a few leaves are retained throughout winter.  It has white, pink, lilac, or pale blue pyramidal clusters of flowers.  Deerbrush could make an attractive addition to a dry garden, but should be avoided in moister areas.  Its shoots were used by natives for basketry.  Deerbrush is a valuable honey plant, and as the common name suggests, is an important browse species for deer.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Western Burning Bush, Euonymous occidentalis

Western Burning Bush      Celastraceae–The Spindle Tree Family

Euonymus occidentalis Nutt. ex Torr.

(yew-ON-ih-mus  ok-sih-den-TAY-lis)

Names: Western Burning Bush is also known as Western Wahoo, Western Strawberry Bush or Pawnbroker Bush.  Occidentalis means western.  Burning Bush refers to the fall foliage color; Strawberry Bush alludes to its colorful fleshy seeds. Plants in this genus are generally called Spindle Trees because the wood of some species was traditionally used to make spindles for spinning wool.

Relationships: There are about 175 species of euonymus, or Spindle Trees; mostly native to Asia, they are also found in Europe, Australasia, Madagascar, and North America.   Only four are native to North America, but many ornamental species have been introduced and have naturalized in the east, such as Burning Bush, E. alatus, and European Spindle Tree, E. europaeus. 

Distribution of Western Burning Bush from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Western Burning Bush from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Western Burning Bush is the only native euonymus on the west coast.  It is found west of the Cascade Mountains from Thurston County in southwest Washington to southern California. In British Columbia, it is only known to occur on Vancouver Island.  It is listed as sensitive in Washington State.

Growth: This species is a straggly shrub growing 6-15 feet (2-5m) tall.

Habitat: It is mostly found in moist woods; sometimes in grassy areas with a few trees.

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Opposite leaves are oval-shaped, finely toothed with a pointed tip.  Small, greenish or purplish-mottled to bronzy, dark purplish-red flowers are borne in clusters of three in the leaf axils.  Fruit is a 3-lobed capsule, which opens to expose seeds that are covered by a reddish-orange, fleshy aril.  Non-hairy branches have narrow, parallel, longitudinal lines or grooves.

In the Landscape: Hitchcock writes that Western Burning Bush “is probably classed as a botanical collector’s item rather than a plant of much horticultural merit.”  This spindly shrub may, however, be useful in a shady corner of the garden.  It has a nice yellow to orange-red fall color–although not as brilliant as the cultivated Burning Bush, E. alatus, it is bright enough in stand out in the shade.  The fleshy orange-red arils are an interesting feature of this plant.

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-June; Fruit ripens: September-November.

Propagation:  No information is available for the species, but seeds of plants in the genus Euonymus generally require 3-4 months stratification at 32-50º F (0-10º C).  Euonymous is easily propagated from cuttings (hardwood cuttings in early spring) or from layering.

Use by People:

Use by Wildlife:  Birds digest the fleshy seed coat and disperse the seeds in their droppings.  Flowers are pollinated by insects.  The ASPCA lists this plant as toxic to horses, cats and dogs.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Soapberry, Shepherdia canadensis

Soapberry                                                          Eleagnaceae–The Oleaster Family

Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt.

(Shep-HER-dee-uh  Kan-uh-DEN-sis)

shepherdia-canadensis-shrub

Names: Soapberry is also commonly known as Canadian or Russet Buffaloberry, Rabbitberry, Soopolallie, or Foamberry.  Common names refer to how its crushed red berries can be whipped into a foam.  In Chinook Jargon “soop” means soap and “ollalie” means berry. Shepherdia is named for John Shepherd,” once a curator of Liverpool Botanic Gardens; canadensis means “of Canada.”

 

 

 

The related species Silverberry, Elaeagnus commutata

The related species Silverberry, Elaeagnus commutata

Relationships: Several shrubs in this family, such as Oleaster, Elaeagnus angustifolia, are grown ornamentally for their silvery or golden foliage.  Silverberry, Elaeagnus commutata, is an inland native, also grown ornamentally.  Shepherdia is a genus with only three species native to northern and western North America.

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution of Soapberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Soapberry from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Soapberry is found throughout most of northern and western North America; all across Canada; from the Arctic Circle to northern Arizona and New Mexico in the west; through the Great Lakes Region and New York and Maine to the east.  On the west coast, it is more common inland, but can be found on Vancouver Island, and other smaller islands in British Columbia; the San Juan Islands, and surrounding shores in the Olympic rainshadow.  In Oregon, it is mostly limited to the east side of the Cascades; in California, documented specimens have been found in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

 

Growth: Soapberry grows 3-6 feet (1-2m) tall.

Habitat: It grows in dry to moist open woods, often on sandy, rocky, or gravelly soils.

shepherdia-canadesis-leavesDiagnostic Characters: Leaves are opposite; mostly green on the upper surface, with fuzzy, silvery-white hairs, and rusty brown scales on the undersides.  Flowers are small, yellowish-brown, clustered on small branches, often appearing before the leaves; with male and female flowers on separate plants.  Fruits are oval, translucent orange-red berries; soapy to the touch when crushed.  Stems are covered with brown scales, like Russet Potatoes.

In the Landscape: Soapberry is a good choice for nitrogen-poor sites due to its association with a nitrogen-fixing, filamentous bacteria, (Frankia sp.), which live in its root nodules.  This silvery, shrub with its “flocked” appearance could be perfect for a dry, rock garden.  Its red berries are attractive in summer.

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-June; Fruit ripens: July.

Propagation:  Seeds exhibit erratic germination and are susceptible to greenhouse pathogens; they should not be allowed to dry out.  Plant seeds immediately in a cold frame in fall, or cold stratify for 60-90 days.  Sulfuric acid scarification for 20 to 30 minutes increases germination rates.  Vegetative propagation is best accomplished using root cuttings; stem cuttings, reportedly, have been unsuccessful but one source recommends trying half-ripe wood in July or August.

soapberry

Use by People: The fruit was eaten raw, cooked or dried into cakes.  Most report that it is bitter tasting; although some say it is sour and gets sweeter after a frost.  The favorite way of preparing the berries is to make “Indian ice cream.”   Berries were collected by shaking the bushes over a mat.  They were then put in a grease-free container, mixed with an equal amount of water, and whipped until frothy.  The foam was then flavored with a sweeter food such as cooked camas, or salal berries.  The bittersweet flavor, however, may be an acquired taste.  Because of the saponin content, the berries should be consumed in moderation.  The berries can also be made into a jelly.  After consumption, the berries are thought to provide protection from mosquitoes.  Different parts of this plant were also used for various medicinal purposes.  A brown liquid made from boiling the branches was used to curl and dye hair.

The red, almost translucent, berries are high in saponins and can be whipped into a froth.

The red, almost translucent, berries are high in saponins and can be whipped into a froth.

Use by wildlife: Soapberry is rarely abundant enough to be very valuable to wildlife.  Deer, Elk, and Bighorn Sheep consume the foliage, while bears, Snowshoe Hares, chipmunks, grouse, quail, and Catbirds consume the berries.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Red-Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea

Red-Twig Dogwood                                            Cornaceae-Dogwood Family

 Cornus sericea L.

(KOR-nus  sir-IH-see-uh)

Red Twig Dogwood variety with a Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea 'Flaviramea') in the background.

Red Twig Dogwood variety with a Yellow Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea ‘Flaviramea’) in the background.

Names:   Cornus sericea is synonymous with Cornus stoloniferaCornus means horn or antler, or “the ornamental knobs at the end of the cylinder on which ancient manuscripts were rolled”—which may refer to the hard wood or the knobby-looking inflorescence of some dogwoods.  Sericea means covered with fine, silky hairs, which are found on the undersides of the leaves, especially on the veins; or on the young branches.  Stolonifera means “bearing stolons (running stems),” due to this shrub’s habit of spreading by the layering of prostrate stems.  It is often called Red-osier Dogwood; other common names include: Red-stemmed, Rose, Silky, American, California, Creek, Western, or Poison Dogwood, Squawbush, Shoemack, Waxberry Cornel, Red-osier Cornel, Red-stemmed Cornel, Red Willow, Red Brush, Red Rood, Harts Rouges, Gutter Tree and Dogberry Tree.  “Osier” is a name for willows whose branches are used for making baskets or wicker furniture.

Relationships:  There are about 100 dogwood species worldwide found primarily in temperate regions.  Three Dogwood trees and a couple of shrub species are found in the eastern or Midwestern United States.  In our region, we also have the Pacific Dogwood tree, and a groundcover, Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis.

Distribution of Red Twig Dogwood from USDA Plants Database

Distribution of Red Twig Dogwood from USDA Plants Database

Distribution: Red-Twig Dogwood is found throughout most of northern and western North America, extending into Mexico in the west; but barely into Kentucky and Virginia in the east.  The variety found west of the Cascades, C. s. occidentalis, tends to be more hairy.  Red-Twig Dogwood is extremely variable; many cultivated varieties are available varying in stem color, size, and leaf variegation.  Notable varieties include ‘Flaviramea,” a yellow-twig form; “Isanti,” a compact form (to 5’) with bright red stems; ‘Kelseyi,’ a dwarf form to 1.5’; and ‘Silver and Gold’ with yellow branches and creamy-edged foliage.

Growth: The species grows 6-18 feet (2-6m) tall, often reaching tree stature in our area.

red-twig-dogwood-flowers

Habitat: It usually grows in moist soil, especially along streams and lakesides, in wet meadows, open forests and along forest edges.  Wetland designation: FACW, It usually occurs in wetlands, but is occasionally found in non-wetlands.

red-twig-dogwood-leafpngDiagnostic characters: Leaves are opposite, oval-shaped, pointed at the tip with the typical dogwood veining pattern; 5-7 secondary veins arise at the midvein, and run parallel to each other out to the margin, converging at the tip.  White threads run through the veins.  Flowers are small, white to greenish in dense, flat-topped clusters (bracts not large and showy as in other dogwoods).  Fruits are white, sometimes blue-tinged with a somewhat flattened stone pit.  Stems are often bright red, especially in winter, but also can be greenish, or yellow.

 

cornus-sericea-shrubIn the Landscape: Red-Twig Dogwood is most often grown for its striking red twigs for winter interest. In fall, its white berries are a striking contrast against its brilliant red fall foliage.  It is especially useful for planting in Rain Gardens, around water retention swales, and for stabilizing streambanks, especially where seasonal flooding is a concern.  It is good for a quick space-filler and can be used as an effective screen in the summer.  This species also  shows promise for being useful in reclaiming mining sites with high saline tailings.

Phenology: Bloom time:  May-July; Fruit ripens: August-September.

Propagation: Cold stratify seeds at 40º F (4º C) for 60-120 days.  Scarifying seeds or a warm stratification period for 60 days prior to cold stratification may increase germination rates.  Red-Twig Dogwood is easily propagated from division, layering and cuttings taken in late summer.

red-twig-dogwood-berriesUse by People: Some natives smoked the dried bark during ceremonies (hence the common name kinnikinnik which usually refers to Arctostaphylos uva-ursi).  They also boiled it and used it medicinally for coughs, colds, fevers, and diarrhea.  The sap was used on arrowheads to poison animals.  The berries were eaten by some tribes, often mixed with Serviceberries.  The bark was used for dye and the stems for basketry, fish traps, and arrows.  The branches are attractive in floral arrangements.

Use by Wildlife: Red-twig Dogwood is an important browse for deer, elk, moose, Mountain Goats, and rabbits.  Although not as desirable as other fruits, the berries often persist through winter, providing food when other fruits are gone.  Mice, voles and other rodents eat the bark and the berries.  Turkeys, pheasants, quail, and grouse eat the fruit & buds.  Bears, ducks, and trout also eat the berries along with many songbirds, the primary agents of seed dispersal.  Beavers use Red-twig Dogwood for food and to build dams and lodges.  Red-Twig Dogwood provides cover and nesting habitat for small mammals and birds and along with other riparian species provides good mule deer fawning and fawn-rearing areas.  Flowers are primarily pollinated by bees.  This species is also a larval host of the Spring Azure Butterfly.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

E-Flora BC, Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn