Vine Maple is perhaps our most beautiful native maple. Found from SW British Columbia to Northern California in the Shasta area. Its a pervasive understory tree throughout the western part of the state. It derives its name from its almost vine like habit in shade. This winding and sun seeking component leads to the most graceful natural forms. In full sun it is a compact, multi-trunked shrub. In autumn in both habitats it turns to shades of fiery orange and yellow and red. Vivid against the pure green trunks and stems. One of the most dramatic places you will see this shrub is at 4500′ on Belknap crater on McKenzie Pass where it lives among the lava. In early fall the brilliant colors of the maples contrasts wonderfully with the black lava. Its very hot and very dry but its also very high in elevation. The symmetrically serrated round leaves rival any Japanse maple. In shade established trees get by with little summer water. In the sun irrigation is welcome. Rich to average soil with regular applications of mulch. To 16′ tall in shade and again quite a bit shorter in full sun- very wide in shade. Avoid the reflected heat of south facing walls. This shrub/tree belongs on the north side or under substantial shade. Some deer resistance. Excellent underplanted with native ferns and Gaultheria. A common native that should be a more common ornamental. Tiny red flowers turn into sunny orange samaras by autumn and persist past the leaves. Avoid very dry shade of un-irrigated over hangs. This is a semi-mesic maple. Oregon native plant
Biome: Willamette Valley Natives
The Willamette Valley is not only Oregons most populous region it is a landscape in flux. What was open grassland and oak woodland managed by fire by the initial residents was densely settled, farmed and logged by Europeans. No where in the state are human pressures so close to fragile nature.
Xeric clay soils
The Willamette Valley is comprised of xeric clay soils. These soils are dry in summer and biological activity ceases as the dry season sets in. These soils require diligent attempts to rehydrate once they have dried. Often the water just beads up and rolls along the surface of the soil (hydrophobic). In soils like this mulch of any kind is paramount.
A distinct dry season
This pronounced dry season is a hallmark of the valley biome. The natives in this landscape including many annuals, perennials and bulbs that are native to California are also native in the Willamette Valley but not north of the Columbia River. Many plants are found and many are endangered only in the valley. The center of the genus Sidalcea finds a home and diversity no where else.
Introduced exotics snuffed out many natives
Its important to remember that there were NO RUNNING or stoloniferous grasses native to the Willamette Valley. Only clumping grasses with space between for such things as native annuals and perennials. When turf grasses were introduced for ornamental and commercial purposes they pretty much snuffed out most of the native habitat of many forbs (herbs). Wild flower habitat was destroyed. Add to that rambunctious exotics such as Armenian/Himalayan Black Berry and Scot’s Broom and European pear and more exotics and the space for many of these natives is squashed. We include plants that are native adjacent to the valley too and perform wonderfully here.
Oregon’s most endangered biome
Most of the Willamette Valley was occupied by Oregon Oak Savanna. This is Oregon’s most endangered biome and attempts are being made to set aside the less than .06% that is left(!) We encourage local gardeners to welcome the wealth of wildflowers native to the Willamette Valley. They are in serious peril.
Climate adapted plants for gardeners in the PNW
This is the locally native form of our wild yarrow. A rambunctious, easy to grow evergreen perennial for rough sites in well drained soil in full sun. Continuously from spring to autumn ‘umbels’ of pure white flowers rise 18″ above low spreading aromatic, finely divided ferny foliage. Most often it is green with variants that have gray foliage from time to time. Low water perennial that can even be used as a lawn substitute. A single plant spreads to several feet wide. Moderate deer resistance. Butterflies oh the butterflies.This is a pioneer perennial and will often out compete less robust native perennials. Its best use is as a contained weed. It is great for pollinators Individual plants rarely persist more than 3 years. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Calistoga’
A fine form of our native Yarrow that has leaves that are a striking gray with pure, clean white flowers. A great combination. Spreads to form a low wide plant that is evergreen (gray). The flat clusters of flowers appear continuously from May to frost. More consistently if you remove spent flowers. The umbels, unusual for the daisy family, are loved by butterflies. Well, actually all pollinators. They are given a flat landing pad and tons of flowers- what more could you want. Excellent for low care areas where this romping perennial will happily out compete weeds and hold ground with very light amounts of water. Full sun and well drained soil. its best to double dig the soil to incorporate oxygen and de-compact the soil. Does not like compacted soil. Light but consistent summer water speeds growth and vigor. Otherwise very drought tolerant. Excellent on slopes. To 20″ tall in bloom on a low spreading foliage plant to 2′ wide or wider. High deer resistance. Great cut flower. Mix with other low water plants. Pretty with other colors of yarrow. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Pretty Woman’
Of all the selections of our native yarrow this stands out for many reasons. The ‘umbels’ of flowers are a rich red which holds the color for an extended period. It fades only slightly to a rust red with time. Its vigorous and easy to grow. And it re-blooms reliably if spent flowers are removed. All the way until frost and sometimes longer. A very, very good long-lasting cut flower. To 18″ tall forming spreading colonies. Semi-evergreen. Low water when established in well-drained soils. Excellent to moderate deer resistance. Appreciates an annual application of compost. Oregon native plant.
Achillea millefolium ‘Salmon Beauty’
Yarrow is an unbeatable native perennial that blooms for a LONG time with a minimum amount of effort from the gardener. Foamy, ferny gray green leaves creates a low carpet of evergreen foliage. Rising up on 2′ spikes flat umbels of soft salmon flower create landing pads for pollinators. The flowers fade lightly after opening for a wonderful multicolor effect. Remove spent flowers, apply a little water and it will repeat bloom until frost. Best in lighter soils that are enriched but drain quickly. Best floral displays occur with light consistent summer water though it is very drought tolerant when established. Tolerates the toughest, hottest sites. Admirable if a little pungent cut flower. LOVED by pollinators. Creates a growing patch to several feet wide quickly. Blooms spring- autumn. Moderately deer resistant. Borders, dry borders, hell strips, etc. Oregon native plant.
Great Hounds Tongue or Giant Pacific Forget-me-Not is one of our most remarkable native perennials. On the property where I grew up near Eugene it was native. There was a clump of this majestic perennial that was there for nearly my whole life. Unfortunately, we sold the property but this plant was still there last I checked. In the Willamette Valley and out into the Columbia Gorge you see these luminous blue flowers on a sturdy spikes in the dry areas under oaks. Often seen with Wyethia -Mules ears which blooms later. Large fleshy leaves form a substantial clump. In early to mid spring 2′ spikes reveal outrageously large versions of Forget-me-nots. Established plants will then go dormant with summer drought. Adapted to xeric clay soils that dry in summer. Not only does it not require water established plants can resent it and rot. Place in a wild, shady, unwatered part of your garden. Amend the soil lightly with compost and water in well. Pairs with other native perennials such as Sidalceas. In the wild it is accompanied by Erythronium oreganum , Lathyrus nevadensis, Fritillaria affinis, Dodecatheon hendersonii, and Ranunculus occidentalis. That is what grew with our patch, under white and black native oaks, with a madrone here and there. Impressive native perennial whose intense blue flowers are hard to convey in a photograph. It takes an extended time from seed to a growable plant. Patience because of limited quantities. SLOW Oregon native plant.
Western Maiden Hair Fern is native from the Aleutian Islands in Alaska south mainly through shady wet spots in the west south as far as Chiahuahua, Mexico. Its even locally native from Maryland to New Foundland. Its a long lived and vigorous fully deciduous perennial for perpetually wet sites. To 2′ tall and spreading almost indefinitely where conditions suite it. Heavy clay soil that retains consistent moisture in part shade to shade. Often found lining water falls in Oregon or in deep cool moist gullies. The multi fingered leaves are a soft green and are held erect on jet black stems. Very good sited at the bottom of a downspout. Very easy to grow given consistent moisture. Oregon native plant.
This delightful onion has a wide range in our state. Primarily you see it in dry, exposed sites a little way up from the bottom of the Willamette Valley. Mid green slightly fragrant grassy leaves give way to an 8″ stems in May-June with a chalice of multiple pink/lavender pink upward facing flowers. Full sun to part shade and adaptable to many soils as long as there is a dry rest in summer. This onion quickly goes summer dormant directly after seed set and disappears entirely by mid summer. Great pollinator bulb for Willamette Valley meadows. Its nearly always on a slope where it is found. Replicate this and give it only the rain that falls from the sky in subsequent years. In time the bulb multiplies and it can also self sow. Leave a disturbed area around the plant and keep it free of weeds and they can mature and bloom in several years. Light deer resistance. aka Slender leaved onion. Very attractive food source for butterflies. Oregon native plant.
Slim leaved onion is very easy to identify in Western Oregon though it occupies more than one biome. Where I grew up it was always found in the same meadow. The meadow was primarily Festuca californica and Festuca roemeri. This onion was found between those grasses and usually intertwined at the base with native mountain strawberriy (Fragaria virginiana var. platyphylla) and rosy plectritis. Its ease of identification comes with a pinch of the leaf or flower- resinous onion odor. This 10″ tall allium supports clear white flowers (occasionally they range to pale pink in these seed grown plants). This is a petite but very ornamental native onion. Its bloom time coincides with onset of summer drought. June into July. It forms enlarging bulbs and as soon as the starry flowers are spent the seed ripens and bursts casting it all around. Full sun and average to enriched soils. Water to establish potted plants then in subsequent years natural rainfall will suffice. This local native is sold in Europe as a cultivar called ‘Graceful Beauty’- its just the species A. amplectens but graceful is a great description of this wildflower. Excellent planted among Rosa nutkana and a perfect and natural accompaniment with native hardy annuals. Each bulb produces multiple flowers which increase over time. Attractive to a vast group of pollinators- local bees and hover flies make repeated visits. Adaptable to all soils that drain. Avoid standing water. Adaptable to clay soils. Oregon native plant
Spreading Dogbane is a pretty semi-shrubby native perennial that is found in every biome in our area. David Douglas mentioned this billowing perennial with clouds of light pink/white bells. Mostly he hated tripping over it in the Willamette Valley. This very permanent plant spreads to form big drifts in the wild. Streambanks, prairies, alpine meadows it can appear. The rounded downward pointing leaves emerge on semi-woody stems. In June-August clouds of flowers appear for weeks. Loved by pollinators and birds specifically attractive to native hummingbirds and butterflies. To 2′ tall and spreading by stolons to a wide area. Water to establish then none in subsequent years. Mulch after planting. Virtually any somewhat rich soil type including amended sand. Full sun to part shade. Wonderful plant and floral texture for meadows. I have great childhood memories of this plant in July in full bloom perched with our huge native black bumble bees. Very convenient bloom time- it begins to bloom just as most other natives are finished. Dogbane is toxic when consumed by humans or animals- hence the common name. When stems are broken a milky sap is exuded. Moderate deer resistance. Distantly related to milkweed. Once very common in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk. Great performance in hellstrips and verges that are lightly or completely non-irrigated. Give this plant room to spread and plan ahead. Limited availability. Oregon native plant
Western Columbine is a wonderful native wildflower that forms almost permanent colonies in part shade. 20″ stems support pendant flowers of vivid orange and yellow. Blooms April-June. Rich, well-drained sites that retain moisture in part shade.Little summer water once established. Finely divided, blue-green leaves are pretty as well. Excellent perennial for naturalizing in part shade and cool environs. Often seen living in a basin of moss and this may be repeated in the garden. Self sows and blue green foliage is distinctive almost immediately. Long-lived when established. Associated plants are Sidalcea campestris, Symphoricarpos albus, Tellima grandiflora. Works well with smaller ferns too. Oregon native plant.
Elk Clover. Our native large herbaceous Aralia that forms large, tropical-looking clumps along moist places in the central southern part of the state. To 8′ tall and as wide when established in rich soil with an adequate summer moisture supply. A native plant that takes very well to cultivation. In summer 2′ long spikes reveal white orbs. Showy and a little exotic for a native as well. This is a great large scale plant for tropical effects- mix with Hardy Banana (Musa basjoo) and you have got yourself a big bold look. Black berries follow the flowers and are somewhat showy as well. Completely winter deciduous. Native to the southwest part of the state with a disjunct population in the Cascade foothills of Lane county. Oregon native plant.
Pacific Madrone, iconic tree of the Pacific Northwest. Famous for its glossy, russet orange sinuous trunks, exfoliating bark, and round, evergreen foliage. In spring, clusters of white flowers are showy and turn into vivid red berries by autumn. These are loved by birds- especially western tanagers who will quickly strip a tree as flocks move from one to the next. Must be grown from seed and it must be transplanted when small. Just the way it is. Plant it in average, well drained soil. Water lightly through the first summer in subsequent years leave it strictly alone. Full sun is best- tends to wander towards the sun in shade. Underplant with low water natives such as Arctostaphylos, Ceanothus, Vancouveria. Slow at first it picks up speed after about 4 years- then it can grow 2′-4′ a year. Somewhat messy tree- loses older leaves in summer and the bark exfoliates all over the place too. Know this and live with it. Ours are raised from seed of trees native to our wholesale nursery site- so its a local strain. Pacific madrone is native from the highest mountains of southern California to southern British Columbia. It is the northern-most broadleaved evergreen tree (native) in North America. Oregon native plant.
Arctostaphylos columbiana ‘Pacific Coast’
This is a compact, dense growing form of Hairy Manzanita from the city of Manzanita on the coast. These are Greg’s collections. He chose several forms that had nice foliage, foliage color, habit, and resistance to disease. This form is one of the most compact of the three. Slightly smaller leaves are born densely on a more reserved growing plant. In late winter to spring clusters of white flowers followed by drupes that turn distinctly red. Inland forms of this Manzanita have maroon to russet berries so this is a distinct difference. Beautiful dark, glossy maroon bark as for the species. To 6′ x 6′ in 7 years. Adapted to average to poor soils which will allow it to grow at a more reserved rate. Arctostaphylos columbiana reacts to richer soils, even clay soils with exuberant growth. Best in our native soils that are unimproved. Dig a large hole and provide regular water until you see good new growth then taper off. In subsequent years only what falls from the sky. Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy Manzanita) is a proto species one of the first and it is the most widespread Manzanita in Oregon and Washington. Genetically it dominates and most of Calfiornia’s northern species are derived from ancient Hairy Manzanita. Provide full sun and good air circulation. Excellent underplanted with native annuals and Sedums. Good looking siver/ gray foliage year round. Extraordinarily drought adapted. Associated plants with the coastal species are Vaccinium ovatum, Pinus contorta ssp. contorta Garrya elliptica, Baccharis pilularis and Salal (Gaultheria shallon). Often found with Festuca rubra on stabilized sand dunes. Oregon native plant
Xera Plants Introduction
Arctostaphylos columbiana ‘Wolf Creek’
Our native Hairy Manzanita is one of the most widespread species in the PNW. It is very susceptible to overwatering and overly enriched soils. .This can be avoided by strictly avoiding all irrigation once established and planting in average, unamended soil. Large-growing shrub with gray green leaves, the telltale hairy leaf petioles and white flowers in spring. Russet berries follow. Its best attribute is its smooth exfoliating mahogany bark. And in time you can remove the tired lower branches to reveal it as well as improve air circulation. To 8′ x 8′ very quickly in average, well-drained soil. No summer water and little intervention from the gardener. Wild areas, dry hillsides. This form we selected from the southern Willamette Valley. It occurs in specific sites around the Valley and is common at the coast /coast range as well as the Cascades. Its populations are most stable on steep rocky slopes and sandy substrates at the coast where plants live longer in impoverished situations. During the warm interstadial (8000-4000 yr BP) when our climate was a bit milder but with a much more pronounced summer drought it was much more widespread- once found in the city limits of Portland at two sites those have been usurped by development. Excellent performance in hot dry urban sites. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Aruncus dioicus var. acuminatus
Goats Beard is a big bold and easy to grow perennial for part shade and perpetually wet sites. To 4′ tall and as wide with large fountains of pure white flowers in late spring to early summer. Native in seeps and along watercourses, mimic those conditions in your garden and you’ll have success. Long lived plant that develops a woody base. Completely winter deciduous. Excellent combined with other mesic water loving plants. Tolerates some inundation but not during the growing season. Often found on cliffs away from the browse of deer. Very large permanent perennial in time. Fall color is often yellow. Widespread in the PNW. Native in the Portland City limits. Oregon native plant.
Narrow leaved milkweed is an Oregonian butterfly weed that has a great wildflower demeanor and is just as attractive to pollinators as well as Lepidoptera (butterflies). Full sun and well drained soil, though it accepts clay soil on slopes that are strictly unwatered in summer , otherwise light consistent irrigation to establish- then natural rainfall alone. To 22″ tall and making a spreading plant. Mix with fine textured ornamental grasses,such as Tufted fairy grass – Deschampsia caespitosa and tall spiky perennials such as simultaneously blooming Kniphofias. Light summer water when companion planted. Flower color is most often creamy white but ranges to light pink. Often seen on road cuts and in ditches in the Willamette Valley. Blends in with grasses and other plants but pollinators find it no matter what. Spreads to form colonies by underground stolons to 2′-3′ wide. Nice cutflower. Important food source for Fendler’s Blue Butterfly which is very endangered and locally indigenous. Winter deciduous. Blooms open in June and persist to August. The large seed heads are pointed and release their downy seeds on the wind in August-September. Oregon native plant.
This widespread species is native to the floor of the Willamette Valley and is locally common in the Columbia Gorge where it occupies dry rocky hillsides in full sun but tolerates heavy clay soil. In the best conditions (loam) it is huge spreading perennial that requires pre-planning and some real estate. Gray green stalks and leaves rise up to about 4’tall and bear deliciously fragrant pink orbicular flowers. These are irresistible to butterflies, including Monarchs, and if you want one to visit your garden this plant is good insurance. However, all butterflies find it irresistible. Spreads underground vigorously by stolons and can come up quite a way from the initial clump. Full sun and well drained soil. Completely winter deciduous and emerges relatively late in spring. Be patient. see video below. IMG 6323. Oregon native plant.
Baccharis pilularis ssp. consanguinea
This is the Willamette Valley form of coyote brush (bush)- also known as chaparral broom. A relatively short lived evergreen shrub in the aster family. Indeed this form blooms in autumn through winter with small brushes of white plumed flowers on female plants. Smaller yellow flowers on males. Typical of the steepest cliffs abutting the ocean and in the Willamette Valley it populates recent road cuts and fire zones. Often it will be seen all alone in the center of a Willamette Valley field. Native inland from northern Marion county to Douglas county. Very fast growing and drought adapted daisy bush for rough sites and poor soil. Improved soil will yield an enormous shrub so its difficult to pin point an exact size but everything from 4′ tall in poor soil with no summer water to 12′ x 12′ in rich soil with irrigation. I suggest no irrigation after planting. Excellent fodder for insects and birds. It may be pruned heavily in spring and will quickly regenerate. Foliage is deep glossy green but fine textured. Not bothered by deer. Excellent native companion for Manzanita, Grevilleas. VERY EASY to grow. average life span 10 years. Good instant plant for a native garden, but not long term. Native from N. Oregon coast south to Baja California. A prominent component of the California beach chaparral and on the Oregon coast as well. Common associated plants on the coast are Salal (Gaultheria shallon) and Mahonia nervosa. In the Willamette Valley its primary role has been ursurped by Scot’s Broom. Too bad. Oregon native plant.
Blechnum spicant (Struthiopteris spicant)
The second most common fern in western Oregon Deer fern is a lovely native evergreen clumping perennial that is invaluable. The tiered upright and then settling to horizontal mid green glossy fronds are handsome all the time. To 2′ wide and 2′ tall (when fronds are emerging). Rich, moisture retentive soil high in organic matter. Light summer water in part shade to shade. Familiar fern of the Oregon Cascades but very widespread. High deer resistance. Excellent native fern for life between Rhododendrons and Pieris that are ancient. This fern loves part shade and cool moist soils but has a bit of drought adaptation as well. Its supremely adapted to to the rough life of competition. Useful plant that looks very good year round. Design by Vanessa Gardner Nagel Seasons Design. Oregon native plant.
Crown Brodiaea is in my opinion the more showy of the two that are common in Western Oregon, the other is Brodiaea elegans Harvest lily. This little naked lily inhabits dry hillsides and meadows from British Columbia to California. Cylindrical leaves emerge in autumn and a clump is green until spring. Then as the leaves go dormant it sends up a chalice of rich blue flowers with distinct white petals on the interior of the flower The 4-6 flowers measure nearly an inch wide each when open. To 8″ tall and spreading primarily by seed, this corm will also multiply to form local colonies. Blooms May to July, just as the accompanying grass is going tan summer dormant. Brodiaea has been placed in the Amaryllis family, then the Asparagus family and now it resides, but probably not permanently, in the Lily family. Loved by pollinators and native bumble bees are especially fond of the pretty flowers. Disappears completely after seed set. Full sun and an open aspect. Average soil and tolerant of xeric clay soils that dry to concrete with summer drought. Adored by butterflies. In the Willamette Valley it is common to find this corm among creeping strawberry Fragaria Virginiana platypetala Roemer’s Fescue Festuca roemeri var. roemeri, Prairie stars Lithophragma sp.as well as Ookow Dichelostemma congestum . Once established no supplemental water is required, in fact its best to give this beautiful little flower a dry rest in summer. No summer water zone. Not well adapted to compete with introduced invasive turf grasses. Oregon native plant.
Wonderful native bulb that has several common names. Harvest lily is one as well as cluster lily. This gorgeous inhabitant of dry hillsides from British Columbia to southern California erupts in clusters of blue flowers just as summer drought ensues. To 14″ tall but normally shorter a clump of scrappy green leaves comes out in autumn and persists until bloom time. As the leaves go dormant the bulb sends up its bloom. Easy to grow if you accept its requirements. Bulbs that are potted should be watered after planting but established plants should rely only on what falls from the sky. Best to not irrigate in summer. In time it spreads by both increasing bulblets as well as seed. Excellent planted among Festuca roemeri var. roemeri as well as Festuca californica where it occurs naturally. Excellent pollinator bulb in the lily family. Leaves are deer resistant but flowers are not reliably deer proof. Full hot, all day sun in soils that dry completely in summer. Native throughout the Willamette Valley and into the gorge locally. Oregon native plant.
Cat’s Ear’s or furry mariposa. This bulb is exclusive to the west side of the Cascades from central Puget Sound south to northern California. In Oregon it occupies a host of biomes. Most commonly its seen in grassy places or steep rocky slopes. On our property near Eugene it was primarily a woodland plant with forays out into the sun. We shamelessly picked this delicate flower for short lived bouquets. Picking it snuffs out the plant. To 8″ tall and sporting multiple flowers on a divided stem. The flowers have a peaked sweet fragrance that gives away the species. A fascinating flower for pollinators. Three rounded petals with a sharp tip are layered in purple to white to blue fur. This is imposed over the base color of the petals which is often white shading to purple. When planting from a container water when you plant it and then nature takes its course. It quickly goes summer dormant after setting seeds in downward shaped capsules. Do not disturb once established. Plants can put up leaves for several years before bloom commences. Patience. No summer water. Protect from deer who will snack on the flowers. Native associates are Sanicula crassicaulis, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Lithophragma parvifora, Nemophila menziesii, Iris tenax, and Carex tumulicola. Emerges quickly in spring- does its thing and then goes back to sleep. Charming.A critical bulb for Willamette Valley meadows, excellent under Oregon white oaks.. Oregon native plant.
Camassia leichtlinii ssp. suksdorfii
Great Camas is the larger and some say showier cousin to common Camas (Cammasia quamash ssp. maxima). Its found throughout the western valleys of the state. Rising to 2′ tall in mid spring the petals of great Camas are not only larger they are stiffer as well. The large star shaped flowers open from the base to the top. They range greatly in color from pale blue to the most common dark blue. Its a luminous color that beckons pollinators. Small black hover flies gather on the flowers to collect pollen. Forms increasing colonies in rich soil that retains moisture. Its often seen in winter wet areas, but it can be found under oaks and firs in woodlands as well. It grows and blooms simultaneously with its common associates, Sidalcea malviflora ssp. virgata and occasionally even with Iris tenax (Oregon Iris). Its most striking neighbors in the wild are wild Parsnip (Hieracleum maximum) as well as Ranunculus occidentalis (Western Buttercup). Leaves precede the flowers and the whole plant goes cleanly summer dormant after seed set. Very adapted to heavy soils. No supplemental irrigation is required once established. In the wild it is found from full sun to quite a bit of shade on the verge of woodlands. Oregon native plant.
Camassia quamash ssp. maxima
Common Camas one of the wests great wild flowers. ‘Maxima’ is the form that is most common in the Willamette Valley. In April to June meadows, glens, and floodplains turn sky blue. Occurs natively in vernally wet sites, that means that part of the winter it is submerged or very saturated. However, it does thrive in upland situations in heavy clay soils that are sodden for at least half the year. Prior to European development first nation people relied on this starchy bulb as a food source. They managed it by low intensity fires which cleared away the competition but did not injure the deep bulb. In turn the Camas thrived. They ate it baked or steamed like a small potato. An important pollinator plant that also attracts some critically endangered Willamette Valley butterflies. Nice cut flower. The spike of flowers opens at the base and moves to the top. To 20″ tall in bloom. The whole plant goes quickly dormant with summer heat. Leaves emerge in early spring and precede the flowers. Full sun. Common associated plants are Ranunculus occidentalis and Hosackia gracilis. (Photo credit Guy Meacham) Oregon native plant.
Chamisso Sedge is a wonderful, common and extremely widespread sedge native to the W/NW parts of the US. Upright growing evergreen clumper to 10″ tall x 10″ wide in a season. The complex flowers are brown awns clustered in orbs at the top of very straight 20″ stems. Adaptable to a wide range of conditions from wet riparian zones to drier upland sites. In the wild it accompanies such perennials as Delphinium trollifolium, to Iris tenax. Good looking year round with just a slightly beat up look after the hardest winters. Spreads moderately fast in rich to average soil. Better year round appearance with a light application of compost. Excellent in a Willamette Valley meadow that is wet in winter and bone dry in summer. Each clump is dense enough to inhibit weed competition. Spreads very lightly by seed. Clumps that lose their luster in summer drought can be irrigated. Good garden performance. Great massed plant on 1′ centers. Oregon native plant.
Foothill Sedge is commonly found from the central Willamette Valley south into California. A tightly clumping sedge with medium green foliage and 8″ wiry stems with attending flowers that are tan in spring/summer. In our region this plant can be found in upland situations where it is moist for at least half the year. Its also diminutive and almost hard to find in the wild. Under cultivation its an entirely different beast. Clumps are dense but expand with a pronounced weeping habit. To 8″ tall x 18″ wide for each individual plant. Good massed or as a lawn substitute. Takes mowing if its limited to once a year. Regular irrigation keeps it green and happy. Summer drought sees blades of tan as well as green and not so verdant. It does not run nor become a seeding pest- sticking surprisingly to itself. Plant on 1′ centers for a modern, mounding effect. Takes clay soils well. Water regularly to establish the first summer then taper off (continue watering if you want it to stay staunchly green). Combines well with perennials including native perennials such as Checkermallow (Sidalcea) and, Ranunculus occidentalis (Western Buttercup), as well as Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon) are found in closely related communities with this plant. Full sun to light shade, or high overhead shade. In California it is also known as Berkeley Sedge. Oregon native plant.
Carex tumulicola ‘Willamette Gold’
Wow, when nature smiles on you then you need to take advantage. We found this stable variant of our locally native foothill sedge that is pure gold. As for the species a clumper that forms trailing 12″ foliage. The tight clumps keep to themselves and do not seed or run. Brilliant color all season long in average to enriched soil in full sun to light shade. Water consistently through summer for the best, consistent color. Attending flowers are on wiry straight stems with buff flowers in late spring to early summer. Mass for a much more drought adapted and vivid effect as Hakenochloa- Japanese forest grass. Easy to grow climate adapted native sedge. This is from a seedling batch of Willamette Valley native seed. Tough and good looking all the time. Evergreen- ever gold. To 6″ tall and 1′ wide. Plant on 1′ centers for a massed effect. Excellent in concert with other drought adapted natives, Manzanita etc. A great robust plant. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Ceanothus cuneatus ‘Blue Sierra’
For cold gardens this is an excellent cultivar and its a version of a species native to the Willamette Valley south into California. Small green wedge shaped evergreen leaves on an arching, somewhat angular shrub. In April and May clouds of soft violet blue flowers swarm the whole shrub. Beautiful. To 7′ x 7′ very quickly in poor to average well drained sites. No summer water once established. Handsome at all times. Excellently adapted to rough urban life where compacted soils, reflected heat and little water is present in summer- thrives in all those conditions. Full sun. Easy. Surveys by the California Chaparral Institute report that this is the most common component shrub of that community in both California and Oregon. Fixes nitrogen with its roots and is common following disturbance. Classic west coast shrub. Excellent accompanied by native bulbs and annuals. Beautiful with Pacific Coast Iris. Oregon native plant.
Ceanothus cuneatus ssp. cuneatus ‘Adair Villiage’
This is a Willamette Valley native form of Buckbrush found in the SW part of the Valley. This species is found historically from the Portland/Oregon City area in the Willamette Valley and throughout the southern half of the state well into California.Small isolated populations occur in central Washington- revealing a much larger range at some point. It has lost large areas of its northernmost natural range to development and fire suppression. It is a fire adapted species that requires disturbance to distribute. Thats a pity because this is a fantastic native shrub for hot dry sites. It is now employed by ODOT for freeway plantings and we are happy to see that. A large, angular evergreen shrub with small deep green paddle shaped leaves. In April the whole shrub is swarmed with pure white flowers.This is a beacon to all pollinators and the sweetly fragrant flowers will literally be buzzing in bloom. Fast growing incredibly tough shrub for areas of intense drought and reflected heat. To 8′ x 8′ very quickly in any soil that does not become boggy. Excellent performance in tough urban situations. Irresistible to bees and butterflies. Associated plants in the wild are Rubus ursinus, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Iris tenax and Ranunculus occidentalis. Extremely cold hardy to below 0ºF. No summer water. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
This is a different form of our locally native Buckbrush. We found this at approximately 2200′ on Mary’s Peak in the Coast Range in a forest that was comprised primarily of Douglas Fir and Golden Chinquapin. This shorter shrub with smaller deep green leaves is most conspicuous in its slick gray stems. To 3′ tall by 4′ wide in 5 years. Full sun and average to poor soil. Blooms April to May with ivory colored panicles that cover the whole plant on old wood. The sweetly fragrant flowers are always buzzing with pollinators. A true low water shrub that can easily get by on only what falls from the sky, once established. This is a cold hardy and locally native evergreen shrub. Often it grows in an arching and then angular kind of way. This form is less upright. Red seedheads follow the flowers. This is a very well known and stable population in the wild that is regenerating nicely. Extraordinarily tolerant of heat and drought. Traditionally this shrub follows disturbance and was widespread in the Willamette Valley often as a meadow component with Rosa nutkana and Amelanchier, Excellent with native clumping grasses, perennials, and annuals. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Deerbrush is a widespread species in Oregon favoring areas with extensive summer drought. Its found primarily in the southern 1/3 of southwest Oregon and the north central part of the state into southern Washington. A small population exists on Skinners Butte in Eugene. Wide spreading semi-deciduous to deciduous shrub with young stems that remain green. Locally it is most common from about Dog mountain in the Gorge to the east and is extensive throughout Hood River and Wasco counties. This is an ideal shrub for revegetation areas, it naturally responds to fire, in fact the seeds must be exposed to boiling water to germinate. This species comes in a very wide range of colors. from clear white to deep blue and occasional shades of lilac pink. It may only be raised from seed so flower color is naturally variable. The plumes of flowers are large and airy displaying the color of the flower vividly. The most common flower color in Oregon is light blue. In late May and June a wonderful wildflower drive is up the Hood River Valley. These frothy blue, to pink to white flowers literally foam out from under native oaks and conifers. Its very conspicuous at that time too on the Rowena plateau. A word of warning not only does this shrub encourage deer browse it is also the unfortunate home of many deer ticks. Photograph carefully. Here it is found with such associates as Holodiscus, Toxicodendron, Symphoricarpos and Arctostaphylos. This brushy plant derives its name from the familiar sight of black tail deer breast height chomping away in extensive groves. Not a long lived shrub 7-10 years but it fixes nitrogen efficiently and improves the soil for successors. Full sun to very light shade, best on a dry slope. Water to establish then only what falls from the sky in subsequent years. Very hardy to cold enduring subzero temperatures. Beautiful pollinator heaven in bloom. To 3-7′ tall and as wide in several years. Oregon native plant.
Photo Credit: Dii Mazuz, Bruce Hegna
The most widespread native Ceanothus in our region. Its known by two common names, red stem Ceanothus which is fairly self explanartory and Oregon tea. A large growing shrub to small tree with conspicuous sanguine stems clad in large mid green leaves, this completely deciduous shrub is not known for fall color making due with yellow and off green before abandoning it. Fast growing to 12′ tall in May-July depending on elevation frothy white, fragrant flowers loosely decorate this sparse plant. In full sun and with regular irrigation it achieves tree-like status quickly. In the shade it makes rounded twiggy plant that is much less graceful. A wonderful native for pollinators and birds. Pollinators relish the flowers and birds make off with the black and brown seeds. Very graceful when well grown and that means average soil and water to establish then none in subsequent years. Excellent bordering woods and thickets. Naturally occurring with Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana and Rosa nutkatensis var. nutkatensis. Tolerates more summer water than most Ceanothus but none is necessary. Not deer resistant. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Clarkia amoena ‘Dwarf Pink’
Farewell-to-spring is a common wildflower of meadows and glens in Western Oregon. It gets its name because it is often the last wildflower to bloom before the summer drought ends the show. This form differs by its pure pink profuse flowers on a dwarf plant. (The wild form is lavender with a red blotch in the center of each petal.). An amazing display of bloom that appears as if someone dropped a bouquet on the ground. You see no evidence of leaves when its in full fettle. Blooms June to October in a garden setting with regular summer water and rich soil and the gardeners diligence removing spent flowers. Reseeds in open disturbed soil. to 10″ tall and a little wider forming a dome. Nice cut flower. Fun variation on a native. Very attractive to native pollinators. True hardy annual. Oregon native plant.
Clarkia amoena ‘Dwarf White’
Excellent little selection of our locally native wildflower ‘Farewell to Spring’. To just 10″ tall this plant(s) become a solid dome of white flowers from May-August. Cute little cut flower. Full sun in rich, to average well drained soil with just light competition from other plants. Re-seeds reliably in open disturbed sites. A great native derivative for hell strips and even containers. Regular summer water – or it will shut down go dormant and think its time to set seed and then make its melon. Rough areas, cut flower. Oregon native plant.
Clarkia amoena ssp. lindleyi
Farewell to Spring is so called because it is one of the last conspicuous native wildflowers to bloom before the onset of summer drought. And bloom it does all the way to late August. Its seen in mass populations waving above the already sear grass on hillsides that dot the valley. Little water is needed but a little supplemental water and removing spent flowers will extend the show. Otherwise it will die upon setting seed. The 2′ tall stems support multiple luminous pink cup shaped flowers. They appear superficially like a poppy. This is the variety that is locally native in the Portland area. The distinctly lavender pink flowers fade to a lighter interior near the center. But it will also appear with a darker pink/red blotch in the center of each petal on a minority of seedlings. These assist in guiding pollinators and this plant is a prime source for all native bees and butterflies. Excellent cut flower that lasts for quite a while in a vase. This is the source species of all the fancy cultivars that are raised in the cut flower trade. Reseeds happily in open disturbed sites. Excellent plant for wild areas and is often employed on road cuts and freeway embankments in deliberately sown wild flower mixtures. I’ve noticed that this local subspecies re-sows itself annually where other subspecies and especially the showy florist varieties are shy to do so. If you want a robust, climate adapted wildflower then go with this subspecies. It comes back strong. Probably our showiest and longest blooming native annual. Reseeds- leave stems to dry and disperse seed and remember to leave open spaces for next years show. Wonderful with yellow Madia elegans for a months long display of brilliant native annuals. A Xera favorite plant. See video below (IMG) taken at the William Finley Wildlife Refuge just south of Corvallis. Oregon native plant.
Lovely ubiquitous woodland flower that brings waves of glorious airy stars for weeks in late spring to mid summer. Occasionally pink the flowers most often are white. Handsome somewhat bold foliage provides a plant that is more than suited to competition on the forest floor. Often self sows and this is welcome. Plant containerized plants in spring and water faithfully through the first summer- but never boggy. Then it is yours. Let it romp among ferns, Hosta, Japanese Forest Grass for a sparkling NATIVE treat. Mix with other natives such as Vancouveria and deer fern. Very easy to grow. Blooms for a very long time and longer if we have a cool beginning to summer. AKA Candy flower. To 10″ x 10″ on average. Summer deciduous and emerges early in spring. Not bothered by pests. Forms spreading colonies in rich, humus enriched soil in part shade to shade. Locally native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Clinopodium (Satureja) douglasii
Yerba buena is a fine trailing herb native to southeast Alaska south into northern California. Its a common scrambling component of woods and forest margins. The round slightly scalloped leaves emit a sweet herb/mint fragrance that reminds me of childhood and they line trailing stems. This 4″ tall by 2′ wide perennial is commonly found among shrubs and clumping grasses as well as perennials. It can be found in the wild with such plants as Vancouveria hexandra (Inside out flower) and Whipplea modesta (Whipple Vine). In late spring to early summer barely conspicuous tiny white snapdragon flowers appear in the leaf axils. Evergreen. Often the leaves turn maroon red in cold weather. The sturdy semi-woody stems root where they attach to the ground and it may be used as a deer resistant small scale ground cover for stabilizing smaller scale slopes. This member of the mint family can be used to flavor iced tea or any cold drink. Shade to part shade in average to slightly enriched soil. Combines well with clumping grasses and smaller scale shrubs such as Symphoricarpos (Snow Berry). Good in containers as well. Yerba buena (the good herb). Excellent native pollinator perennial in the mint family. Oregon native plant.
Native annuals often get over looked in our gardens. They occupied vast stretches of the Willamette Valley and civilization has caused those displays to suffer. In our gardens they are precious reminders that we should include every category of native plant. Giant Blue Eyed Mary is one of our most delicate looking and stunning in floral detail, It makes a hazy cloud of beautiful blue and white small snapdragon flowers from late April to Mid June. A true annual that dies once the floral display is done. But leave the skeletons of the plant for several weeks longer to form and shed seeds for next years display. This 20″ tall grassy plant occupies open sunny sites as well as the margins of forests. In our gardens it appreciates open slightly disturbed soil. Seedlings germinate in autumn and over winter as small plants. They will heavily occupy an area about the size of a 9″ pie. Excellent plant to succeed mid and late spring bulbs. Water lightly after planting and to establish then none required. Native to the Portland city limits as well. Fantastic displays of this plant can be seen at Camassia in West Linn all through late spring. This is a very reliable re-seeder if you give it some open ground and check for slugs. Seedlings germinate quickly following the first rains and are incredibly cold hardy and drought tolerant. Don’t worry, they are from here, they know what to do. Attracts a wide variety of native pollinators including a wealth of smaller hover flies. Oregon native plant.
Wild Phlox is a native hardy annual that occurs from the prairies of the Willamette Valley to the sage brush country east of the Cascades. Clusters of flowers open sherbet orange and then fade to white with conspicuous blue pollen for a multi colored effect. Adaptable plant that will occupy any open disturbed site. Reseeds prolifically. To 2′ tall. Cute cut flower. Nice native to let wander your garden. Low water. Locally native in the city of Portland and to our nursery site in Sherwood. A charming plant that should be given average conditions and not pampered- otherwise it will contract powdery mildew which is harmless but kind of ugly. The unique, nearly indescribable color of this flower certainly is not. Oregon native plant.
Oregon cut leaf gold thread is a widespread but not common evergreen perennial that is found in dry shade on the west side of the Cascades. Native primarily to Oregon it extends north into Washington and is rare south into California. A colony creating perennial that has handsome, intricate deep green foliage. The arrow shaped leaves are arranged in rosettes along the expanding yellow stolons. The effect is a dense cover that expands at a slow rate. In spring sparse thread like flowers are curious followed by swollen seed pods arranged in a circle. Rich to average soil in shade to dappled shade, though if pushed it can tolerate a little sun. Good year round appearance. It may be cut back at the end of winter, but I haven’t really found this to be necessary. Use its best attributes, adaptation to dry shade and evergreen good looks as a limited groundcover beneath woodland perennials or at its best on the forest floor. Not a wide scale groundcover and clumps expand at a slow/moderate pace. Not adapted to compacted or clay soils. Best in heavy duff on the forest floor. Great in shade containers at the foot of Aspidistra . Not bothered by deer. Limited quantities. It derives its common name from the bright yellow roots and stolons. Water until you see good new growth then set it free. Oregon native plant.
Coreopsis tinctoria var. atkinsoniana
Columbia Coreopsis or Columbia tickseed is a locally native annual but more often biennial that is found along the Columbia River and into the gorge. Also, native throughout eastern North America. Its first season is spent as a rosette of curly, finely divided leaves that have a glossy sheen. The following early summer it erupts into groups of gold flowers, slightly reflexed petals and a red dot that surround a brown protruding cone. Loved by pollinators and they come en masse. To 22″ tall on average in bloom. For rich to average soil in full sun. The sun part is non-negotiable. Mix with native Oregon perennials and annuals such as Sidalcea virgata or Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi as well as Madia elegans for a summer long show. Very good butterfly plant. It has a scattered population in the Willamette Valley but should be grown here much more often. Self sows in open disturbed sites. Very prolific in bloom with clouds of golden flowers unobscured by pesky foliage. Nice cut flower. One stem can be an entire bouquet. light consistent summer water improves the show but this is a tough, climate adapted biennial. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Pacific Dogwood is one of our most beloved native flowering trees. From BC south to the Sierra Nevada of California this understory to margin tree alights in April and May in pristine white flowers. They perch on upward arching stems for a perfect display. This large conical shaped tree can achieve 35′ in great age. Water deeply and infrequently during its first summer in the ground, once it is firmly established it can go with natural rainfall. In full hot sun more irrigation may be needed. Native to the Portland city limits and a firm spring decoration on our freeways. Pacific dogwood contrasts wonderfully in bloom with deep green conifers. Average growth when young is 2′-3′ per year. In certain seedlings this spectacular species may re-bloom in August/September. Its a fairly small percentage but when it occurs its a refreshing display at the end of hot summer. Fall color is pink/red/orange and is conspicuous in the understory. Full sun to overhead shade in the understory. In autumn red fruits decorate the branch tips and are food for birds. Give this native tree good air circulation and mulch after planting. Oregon native plant.
Giant Larkspur or Cow Poison, I prefer the first common name for this stunning large growing native Delphinium. In vernally wet sites to moist upland sites it forms large spectacular colonies. In late spring and early summer stems that soar to nearly 4′ tall are loosely decorated with marine blue flowers with a lighter central bee. In habitat its common associates are Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolius) and Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) where it can be found in the shade of these deciduous trees. The one variable with this Delphinium is that it is found in cool places- never hot and dry. These shadowy environs can make this plant hard to spot even in full bloom. Often they will be in standing water during the winter months and they are adapted to very heavy wet clay soils. In cultivation the need for moist conditions continues and it does appreciate at least an application of all organic fertilizer and compost at planting time. Keep it well watered through its bloom cycle, then it can go drier but never dust dry- in time it can handle much less irrigation. An annual mulch is beneficial. Wonderful, bold cut flower , but its loved by pollinators as well ( what is it about blue flowers? ). Forms spreading colonies in time. Give it room to stretch out. Its often found with our native Cow Parsnip (Hieracleum maximum) and great Camas ( Camassia leichtlinii) in habitat. This could easily be replicated in a garden. Native to the Willamette Valley into the Columbia River Gorge. Once widespread in the Willamette Valley its territory has shrunk precipitously. Long lived perennial. Very good deer resistance. Extremely showy in bloom. Oregon native plant.
Tufted Fairy Grass is an Oregon native that forms bright green fine clumps but is in its glory in bloom when tall vertical stems display hazy tan flowers at the tips. Easy to grow grass that improves under cultivation. Native to semi-shady to sunny aspects in rich soil that drains but also retains moisture. Adaptable to wet sites that dry in summer. To 10″ x 1′ as a clump of foliage but rises to 3′ tall in bloom. Very wild looking grass that can be massed for a hazy meadow effect, or placed in straight lines a modern aesthetic that combines a wild plant with spaced symmetry. Excellent among shrubs and with other wild looking meadow perennials. Winter deciduous. Cut back dead growth in spring. Relatively long lived. Native in the Portland city limits. Graceful. Winter deciduous. A pan global plant- this is our local form. Click on the link for a video of the dried seed heads. Oregon native plant.
Oregon bleeding heart is a widespread lush, long blooming perennial wildflower for moist conditions in shade to full sun. A somewhat rambunctious plant that spreads quickly by stolons. Do not plant it near shy or small plants that can become swamped. It tolerates quite a bit of shade and if in full sun it thrives with supplemental water and a massive flower display. Divided soft green foliage is very good looking, in April-July a continuous supply of rose colored downward pointing clumps of flowers on an 18″ spike. The foliage rises on average to half that height. Responds vigorously to amended soils and regular irrigation. In hot dry situations it will go quickly summer dormant. In the shade with water leaves persist to autumn and re-bloom occurs. Not bothered by pests, including deer and snails and slugs. Frequently found in shady ditches in the Willamette Valley. Winter deciduous, if not already summer drought deciduous. An easy to grow, self sufficient perennial for wild areas. Mix with other vigorous and scaled plants. Very easy to grow. Oregon native plant
Dicentra formosa var. oregana ‘Langtrees’
Excellent form of our native bleeding heart that is an incredibly long blooming perennial for gardens. Remarkable blue foliage is beautiful if it never produced 1′ spikes of clear white pendant flowers. Blooms begin in spring and with regular summer water in rich soil continue throughout summer. Shade to full sun (with regular water). Forms widely spreading colonies. Give it room to spread. This tough, adaptable plant handles any soil situation from perpetually moist to quite dry. Resistant to pests- that includes slugs and snails as well as deer. (They will briefly browse it before ditching it for better things- it recovers quickly). Completely winter deciduous. Oregon native plant.
OOKOW. The common name for this wonderful native bulb. A naked lily closely related to Brodiaea. Also, referred to as cluster lily though that isn’t even remotely as fun to say as OOKOW. Stems to 22″ tall support 6 to 15 showy purple flowers clustered at the stem tip. Dry sunny hillsides in clay soils to meadows throughout western Oregon. Its native range goes a bit to the north into Washington and south to central California. This happy bulb spreads to form colonies in time. It will also spread by seed. An integral part of Willamette Valley meadows. Excellent cut flower that lasts a week in a vase. Water to establish when planting from containers. In subsequent years it will rely only on what falls from the sky. in habitat it can be found with native clumping grasses such as Koeleria and Festuca roemeri var. roemeri. Sisyrinchium idahoense is a frequent associate. The flowers do not nod on the stems as other closely related species Smalll grassy foliage appears in early spring and disappears cleanly following bloom. Adapted to heavy clay soils that are wet for 6 months of the year that dries in summer. Full sun. Loved by Hummingbirds and butterflies. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Firecracker flower. This bulb is native from southern Lane County in west central Oregon south into California. Its an easy to grow showy bulb that performs very well in gardens. It should be grown more often. I first saw this plant in the wild near Elkton, Oregon. I was driving by not very slowly and I saw a flash of red in front of a fence. i went back to investigate and found this plant in full bloom. In its habitat it occupies dry sunny slopes that face south. Soil is loam to clay but all of them dry completely in summer. Blooms mid- to late spring for an extended length of time for a bulb. A handful of scrappy leaves forms a rosette . And the blooms extend to about 18″ tall. They are not always straight and can wind, vinelike around and through other plants. The red buds reflex when open to reveal a yellow interior. I’ve had many hummingbirds visit mine. Let it go completely dry in summer- in fact it excels in wild environments and competes very well with weeds. Leaves disappear quickly after bloom. Increases over time. Deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Henderson’s shooting star or more appropriately foothill shooting star. Thats where you see them in meadows and glens usually underneath or near Oregon white oaks. Common composition of the flora seen with this plant are giant baby blue eyes Nemophila m. ‘atomaria’., Ranunculus occidentalis – western buttercup as well as Lithophragma- Prairie Stars. Rubbery near round leaves emerge in mid winter and persist as rosettes for months until real heat pushes them into sleep. The charming flowers rise up to 14″ on tall straight stems. The nodding flowers gives away its familial association with Cyclamen and Primrose and reflexed magenta purple petals shoot straight up. The interior of the flower is a spike decorated like a single cake with a red brick a brack design if you look closely. Great cut flower and where ever you throw the spent flowers they will still ripen and set seed and quickly a new patch will be created. Full sun to part shade in clay soils that dry in summer. No water once established. They quickly go dormant and disappear to escape summer heat and dry. Relatively easy native wildflower to grow. Deer resistant. Native from northern California north to SW British Columbia. Found throughout the western half of the state. This wildflower made extensive colonies around my childhood home near Eugene. It always bloomed around my birthday and over the years I built up huge colonies. It was so charming with Erythronium oreganum- Oregon fawn lily- they grew side by side. In our ‘backyard’ there were huge colonies of native Dodecatheon. I would pick bouquets of them from the backyard and when the flowers were spent I would chuck them off the front deck into the woods. Over time I realized they were still setting viable seed as we had a huge population in the front in a few years, . Blooms late March to early May. Oregon native plant.
Calico flower is a widespread showy annual of vernally wet sites throughout our region. A low spreading plant that rises up in bloom to reveal shovel shaped blue and white flowers. They closely resemble annual Lobelia (Lobelia erinus) to which it is closely related. Blooms appear from Mid May to early August. Rich soil with regular summer water. Downingia is native to areas that are often submerged in winter. And in the garden it appreciates ample water. Full sun and resists competition from other plants. Very good in rain gardens. One potted plant will expand to 2′ with rising showy flowers. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. Excellent container plant. You can simply remove it when it has completed its life cycle- replace with warm season annuals. A food source for the endangered Willamette Valley endemic Fendler’s Blue Butterfly. Leave established plants in place once they have died to distribute seed for the following year in the ground. Oregon native plant
Showy daisy- though that is far too vague for this tough and graceful wildflower. Native in separate parts of the state this summer blooming perennial inhabits meadows and fields of the Willamette Valley. Rows of very fine soft pink petals surround a green/yellow center on 18″ stems June-August. The pretty daisies come in a group and then appear sporadically until frost. Loved by pollinators this is an authentic component of Willamette Valley meadows. Average to enriched soil with regular water to establish, in subsequent years it can survive on rainfall alone. Plant with Prunella vulgaris var, lanceolata, and Erigeron glaucus for a midsummer blooming native vignette. Long lived low maintenance perennial that goes completely deciduous. Widespread in the northwestern states of the US. Our version is from seed native to the Willamette Valley. Loved by butterflies and even good beetles. Clump expands to 2′ wide in time. Not bothered by deer. Simple, tough, wonderful native perennial. Full sun. Oregon native plant.
Our native Sulphur Buckwheat that is among the best for general garden culture in our climate. This ubiquitous creeping plant of alpine areas of Oregon celebrates spring with umbels of (sulphur) yellow flowers on long stalks. The low and spreading rosette of leaves are thick green on top with silver indumentum on the reverse. Full sun in fast draining conditions- ideally rock garden conditions because that is where you find it. Crevasses between rocks is where it lives. This is easily reenacted in your garden at the top of a porous rock wall. Blooms May-July for an extended time. The flowers go through a fascinating metamorphosis in color as they open, reach their peak of hot yellow and then turn to russet/red seed heads. These abandon the spike through autumn and spent flower spikes may be removed in winter. Water until you see the rosettes actively increasing. Then taper to once in a while. This species has a total of 13 (!) subspecies in Oregon alone. We have yet to delve into specific subspecies but if we did I would look for Eriogonum umbellatum var. modocensis and Eriogonum umbellatum var. umbellatum. Both are endemic to Mary’s Peak the tallest point in the Coast Range (4097′). So, I know that those (with immaculate drainage) can easily cope with higher rainfall. Rock garden staple and can also self sow in happy places. Very fun, sunny, satisfying native to grow. Associated plants in habitat are Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata and Achillea millefolium, Sedum oreganum, Castilleja minuta and Penstemon cardwelii. Excellently adapted to gravel, crevice, gardens with an arid aesthetic. Amend the soil as for Agaves and it will thrive. Pronounced Air-e-OG-oh-num. Rosettes to 3″ tall, blooming stems to 1′ tall. Spreads, give it room. Oregon native plant.
Oregon Sunshine is the cheery common name that greets this widespread native perennial. Silvery gray intricate foliage forms a spreading mat. In late spring and early summer brilliant golden yellow daisy flowers spangle 10″ stems. Loved by pollinators and we’ve been impressed with its draw to butterflies as well. To 2′ across and excellent on slopes where water never lingers. Add compost and this perennial will soar- give it room in that case.In the wild its a frequent of road cuts and other disturbed sites. It also competes admirably with exotic invasive weeds and will persist where other natives are swamped. Rock gardens, dry borders. Water to establish- the first season- but never boggy. The following year it will rely only on what falls from the sky. Full sun to light shade. Adapts to poor soils. Moderate deer resistance. Goes quickly dormant following bloom. Native to the Portland city limits. Very good planted beneath Pinus ponderosa var. benthamiana Pacific Ponderosa Pine this pair can frequently be found in the wild. Oregon native plant.
Oregon fawn lily is widespread in the western third of the state. In late winter and early spring leaves arrive mottled like a spring fawn. Soon the flowers follow on straight stems and yield a cream colored umbrella of petals. They reflex around a yellow center with protruding stamens. This glorious little plant is perfectly adapted to our climate. By mothers day it has set seed and gone back to sleep. Flowers are single on average plants or in poorer soil. In rich soil it soars to 20″ tall and can have a spike with two flowers. Gorgeous ephemeral plant that requires a dry rest period in summer. Competes well with invasives and in time it will seed itself to form patches. Seedlings of this bulb take approximately 2-3 years to bloom. Water to establish potted plants. Once established, only the rain that falls from the sky. Full sun to full shade in average soils, including clay soils. Do not water in summer or it will rot and die. In the wild its found under Oaks where it competes on the forest floor with Lonicera hispidula and other forbs. Blooms from early April to early May in the Willamette Valley- later at higher elevations. A wonderful native plant that should grace every garden. Found in the wild with Dodecatheon hendersonii, Nemophila menziesii var. atomaria, Carex tumulicola, Festuca roemeri var. roemeri and Festuca californica. Occurs on upland soils, never boggy. Extremely well adapted to our soils and climate. Wonderful woodland bulb. Best in part shade to shade, where the flowers last longer. Oregon native plant.
Eschscholzia californica ‘Pretty in Pink’
True pink California poppy. Seed from this exceptional pink flowered selection comes true about 95% of the time. Deep rose pink semi-double flowers appear in late spring and continue sporadically until mid summer. A happy plant can become a short lived perennial but the majority will behave as bloomy annuals. Full sun and rich to average soil with good tilth (crumbly texture). It can even thrive in compacted soils. To 10″ x 10″ forming a compact plant with lacy blue foliage. The strident rose pink flowers are showy from a distance. Leave the last round of flowers to seed for the next several seasons. Excellent wildflower display in rough areas w/ low water. Water plants to establish then taper off. Remove spent flowers to encourage more. Wonderful flower color. Mix with Eschscholzia c. ‘Alba’ the white form. Deer resistant and drought adapted native plant. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Eschscholzia californica ‘Purple Gleam’
One of my favorite separate strains of CA poppy. ‘Purple’ gleam is a tiny bit of an over statement. More accurate its pink w/ purple overtones and a lighter center. Blooms from April August in a wave of big flowers that tossles over compact plants with filigree blue foliage. Full sun and average to even poor soil. Often potted Eschscholzia will perennialize and live for a year or two in the ground. Otherwise its an annual and will succumb when the whole plant blooms itself out. To 10″ x 12″ forming a spreading plant. Remove spent flowers to continue the show. Many plants will take a break over summer and then resume blooming w/ cooler autumn rains. Great pollinator plant. Containers, dry areas, borders. Reseeds reliably w/ about 80% true to parent type. Wonderful with Clarkia unguiculata ‘White’ and Collinsia grandiflora. High deer resistance. Leave open disturbed soil for it to reseed. Light summer H20. Oregon native plant
Eschscholzia californica ‘Willamette Valley Form’
Plants don’t really stay in the same place, They move according to climate and soils and with the help of humans. This famous poppy carpets meadows and glens and rocky hillsides in brilliant orange from SW Washington through Western Oregon into California to Baja but is happily grown throughout the globe. Sunny orange flowers with an edge of lighter yellow in our local form appear from mid spring to late summer. This form was identified in 1846 at the former town of Tonquin. Tonquin is about 500 yards from our nursery and this poppy is everywhere. Blue fine foliage on spreading plants to 14″ tall and up to twice that width. Full sun in any soil where water does not collect. Reseeds itself prolifically and can become your own introduced weed. Seedlings are easy to spot and dispatch if unwanted. Nice cut flower if you pick it in bud. Loved by pollinators. Easy to grow native annual/ sometimes a perennial. Water to establish plants then none necessary. Completely deer and rabbit proof. Oregon native plant.
Festuca californica var. californica
California Fescue native to the Willamette Valley from Multnomah county south and once widespread before being pushed to the margins by exotics and development. The best place to find this clump forming cool season evergreen grass now is on slopes, almost always underneath native Oaks. As you go farther south it becomes more widespread. Our seed grown plants come from exceptionally blue foliaged plants. Grows during the winter and looks clean and fresh then. In spring 3′ tall inflorescences arrive and are straight and airy. Following bloom in summer the stems of these blooms take on raspberry tints and remain standing. Totally summer drought adapted but a little irrigation will improve summer looks. To 1′ x 2′ as a clump of evergreen foliage. Full sun to part shade in average to enriched, soil where water never stands. Light summer water. Best in wild areas and margins. Looks a tad too wild for some. Check it out in person and see how you feel. Excels around Manzanitas, Cistus, Ceanothus and in dry shade in woodlands. A great garden plant. One of our best native grasses. Oregon native plant.
Festuca roemeri var. roemeri
Roemer’s Fescue is a native bunchgrass found on upland prairies and slopes throughout the PNW. In the Willamette Valley it survives on the upward margins of woods, often under Oaks and accompanying California fescue. Roemer’s Fescue has much finer leaves and a tighter clumps than Festuca californica. Its immediately identifiable by this thin blue green foliage. A cool season grower it spends the winter in its freshest and lushest state by the onset of summer drought it has already gone dry dormant. To 8″ tall and spreading. 1′ spikes with tan flowers appear in late spring and remain erect until the entire plant goes summer dormant. With regular water and good drainage this grass will avoid summer sleep and remain green and lush. A common component of Willamette Valley Oak Savanna and losing ground to invasive weeds. Excellent underplanting for drought adapted shrubs, or for the garden/wild lands interface. It spreads quickly by seed- its from here, you should expect that so keep it away from highly manicured areas. Its habitat in the Willamette Valley has shrunk to almost nothing. Bring this pretty native bunchgrass back to our gardens. Admirable lawn substitute. Evergreen. Oregon native plant.
Fragaria vesca var. bracteata
Woodland strawberry that is native to large parts of Oregon. This upright growing smaller strawberry is delightful when pristine white flowers morph into sweet pendant red fruits. To 10″ tall and as wide this clumping plant expands at a moderate clip forming patches in rich to average soil with light, consistent summer moisture. Blooms in April- fruit arrives in June. This is the locally native form of this widespread plant. it differs from the European version in that it produces runners. I In France the same species is famous as Fraise du Bois. Our local species in Oregon will produce several rounds of fruit with reliable irrigation. It will increase by RUNNERS, the european variety does not run, but clumps. This is not a long lived species and it seems to find its happy place on its own. Expect several years lifespan and leave fruit on the plant annually to ensure reseeding and nurture new plants at the end of stolons. This is our local selection and it is very drought adapted. The European variety much less. Great in containers. Use in partly shady borders, its a diminutive plant and fits nicely among larger perennials. Great for fresh eating…and dogs like them too so protect from marauding pooches. Very natural lining woodland paths. Semi-deciduous to winter deciduous. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant
Fragaria virginiana var. platypetala ‘Mt. St. Helens’
Broadleaved strawberry or mountain strawberry is a widespread native species with large white flowers in spring that turn to small delicious red fruits in June. A low spreading perennial that also spreads liberally by runners. This tendency ramps up in richer conditions. This tough native form was found by our employee Brandon at Mt. St. Helens. This clone shows impressive vigor and is useful in a number of ways. A tough species that naturally thrives in clay soils (and clay strawberry pots). It competes admirably with grass and is best between native clumpers. Associated plants in the Willamette Valley are Dichelostemma congestum, Carex tumulicola , Lathyrus nevadensis, and Calochortus tolmiei. Mostly evergreen with many bright red leaves in winter but leaves remain present in all but the coldest situations. In the garden give it rich to average soil and regular irrigation to establish. This variety has enough summer drought adaptation that it will grow sufficiently with little summer water. Cold hardy, tough little plants. Bears one crop of fruit per year. Rescue them from snails and ants. Widespread throughout the region. On the west side it is found everywhere from oak savannas to alpine meadows. In the eastern part of the state it is primarily in the mountains in partly shaded zones where there is adequate moisture. Each plant spreads to about 6″ across and runners expand out more than a foot from that. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Frangula (Rhamnus) purshiana
AKA Cascara or Cascara sagrada. This is a widespread small tree to shrub in the northwestern part of the United States to SW Canada. West of the Cascades its found in almost every biome. It can be a wind contorted shrub on blasting headlands at the coast. In the Willamette Valley its common where birds drop the berries/seeds on fence rows and it borders fields with native roses and Oso Berry. Its even found in the Bitteroot mountains in Montana/Idaho. It was frequently used by indigenous people as a laxative. Cascara is a small round crowned tree/shrub. In drier locations it is more shrub like but in deep, rich soil with access to water it can grow to be a thirty five foot tree. Large round alternate leaves turn dark green and glossy in summer. In May and June the tiny greenish flower appear and transform into red fruits by autumn. This is the mechanism that makes this plant so widespread, its dispersal by birds. A lovely little straight trunked shade tree that requires almost no water once established. It functions as an understory component as well. Full sun to quite a bit of shade, including dry shade. Easy to grow and climate adapted. Average life span 35 years. In winter its very symmetrical open branch structure is handsome. Fall color is soft yellow to chartreuse and not especially showy. Oregon native plant
Mission Bells or Western Checker lily. This is a handsome native bulb that is found extensively throughout the west side of the Cascades. It can inhabit Oregon oak savanna or Douglas fir forests. It is a prime Willamette Valley prairie component. This was one of the first native plants that i ever grew. In our backyard in the country under white/black oaks you would see them sporadically. When I put up a fence to block the voracious deer I inadvertently protected a patch of uncultivated forest floor. Where there was one meager Mission Bell the first year blossomed literally into 25 the next year and 50 the following year. Apparently, the deer had been eating them. So,learn my lesson protect this native plant from deer. To 20″ tall in bloom in April to June. The flowers are large for a Fritillaria and are most often black brown with green checkers and nod dramatically. To be honest this is a flower to view up close, from a distance this mostly green and brown plant blends right in to the forest floor. Tolerant of many soil types, ours grew in heavy silica based clay that dried to concrete in summer. Once established this tough bulb thrives and each lives many years. Spreads by seeds and bulbils and offset bulbs. Goes completely summer dormant with true heat- no presence in summer. Attracts quite a few pollinators including butterflies. No supplemental water in summer.Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Oregon native plant.
Salal. An iconic native shrub that occupies the understory of the forests from the coast to the Cascades- in the Willamette Valley its restricted to the shadiest, mesic environs. A mounding evergreen that forms large colonies in time. Ranges in height from 2′ to 6′ depending upon its situation. Spread is indefinite when happy. In spring chains of white urn shaped flowers transform into edible berries. Very handsome foliage is used as long lasting cut material and is sometimes marketed as ‘lemon leaf’. Can be tricky to establish. Shade to part shade is best in rich, humus rich soil with regular water. To establish water, water, water. And apply a liberal deep mulch. Avoid hot sun and compacted dry soils. Once it gets going, its yours forever. Occurs naturally in mesic/shady environs around Portland. Mulch annually to accumulate a layer of organic material that this spreading shrub craves. Oregon native plant.
Not many gardeners are aware that we have our own native hardy Geranium. And its a really good garden plant. Bushy herbaceous perennial that displays very large magenta/blue flowers in late spring to mid summer. It peaks in June and is quite a display. To 2′ x 2′ and completely deciduous in winter. Excellent in manicured borders or areas that receive a bit of extra irrigation in summer. Adapted to clay soils it improves considerably under cultivation. Mix with native Sidalceas for a bonafide native combination. Native throughout western Oregon but also native in the Rocky Mountains. One of our finest natives that should be used more often. Fall color is yellow before going cleanly away. Not bothered by slugs or snails (!) but not entirely deer resistant. Full sun to light shade to very high overhead shade (a tall tree canopy). Best in enriched soil with consistent summer moisture. Associated plants in the wild are Sidalceas, Achillea. Very good performance in rain gardens. Oregon native plant.
Gilia capitata ‘Willamette Valley Form’
Globe Gilia or Bluefields is a widespread annual wildflower from British Columbia to Baja. To 30″ tall and forming a substantial plant very quickly. From April to July and sometimes longer these striking sky blue flowers appear and rise on tall stems displaying the orbs of flowers. If you apply light consistent water and remove the spent flowers they can re-bloom. Otherwise, they persist until hot weather and then set seed and die. Studies at OSU on native pollinators ranked this #1 as their source for pollen/nectar. That alone gives you reason to include this re-seeding plant in your garden. Rich, to average disturbed sites are ideal. It often grows and self sows in the disturbed slopes of road cuts, dry hillsides. In the garden it LOVES good conditions and will be much larger, bloom longer, with flowers of a darker hue of blue. A great wildflower for the garden that makes a sweet cut flower. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. Wild areas, hell strips, dry gardens. Easy to naturalize if you contain the competition from other plants. Locally native in the Portland city limits. New plants germinate in autumn and overwinter happily. Oregon native plant.
Willamette Gumweed, Puget Gumweed is an important native late blooming pollinator plant. A native resident in the Willamette Valley along water courses and marshlands- It seems to excel in areas that are wet in the winter and bone dry in summer. That kind of adaptation begs for its inclusion in bioswales and to stabilize stream banks. In normal garden conditions gumweed – which derives its common name from the gummy coating on the leaves. It has a tar-like fragrance and is positioned on the leaves to decrease evaporation. It may also impart some resistance to saline conditions. In June-Sept. this large, spreading plant is decorated with corymbs of bright yellow daisy flowers. Immediately they are attended by pollinators. Its fascinating. The flower bud is densely armed with prickles giving this native daisy kind of a tough look. To 30″ x 30″. Full sun and rich to average conditions. Tolerates clay soils if you water it consistently to get the new roots into the clay soil. Once established it’s a very drought adapted plant. It also improves substantially under cultivation. Combine with Symphyotrichon subspicatum ‘Sauvie Sky’ and Solidago for a native prairie redux. Winter dormant. Seed grown from plants native to the Willamette Valley. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
One of our prettiest native Heucheras that can be found in partly shady locations from the Willamette Valley to the Cascades. A low rosette of handsome maple shaped leaves looks good for most of the year. In late spring very vertical straight stems erupt and cruise to 14″ tall. They terminate in rows of green flowers. As the flowers fade and change to seed the erect stems turn a soft red. Blooms are effective for months. A colony forming plant that spreads in rich to average soil with regular summer irrigation. Best in moist shady locations but is amenable to full sun- which will dramatically increase the number of flowers. Climate adapted perennial that improves under cultivation. Mass for a soft green floral effect. Mix with other woodlanders or even in full sun in rock gardens. Semi-deciduous. To 18″ wide. Moderate deer resistance. Excellent plant for partly shady meadows, which is its native haunt. Native to the city limits of Portland. Excellent plant. Oregon native plant.
Ocean Spray is a well known shrub west of the Cascades. It occupies dry woods in part shade to full sun. Large and spreading it displays foamy white clusters of flowers in early summer. They age to a tan color before falling apart. Handsome small scalloped leaves are very pretty and turn yellow to orange in autumn. To 9′ x 7′ very quickly in virtually any soil type. Extremely drought adapted when established- but amenable to light irrigation in summer. Wild look for wild areas, match with native perennials. Often suckers to form patches and it is common for seedlings to show up around the parent plant. These can be moved when young or dispatched. Birds adore the dried seeds in winter. Pretty native in the Rose family. Moderate deer resistance- but sometimes they attack it if it is newly planted so protect. Winter deciduous. Ours are raised from seed native to our wholesale site. Oregon native plant.
Curious and rare western oregon native plant that can be found in permanently wet sites. This gives you a clue about how to grow this striking little pea. Wide stretching arms deliver pink and yellow flowers in clusters at the tips. Blooms April to July. Native along the immediate coast from the Bay Area in California north to British Columbia Inland it clusters around permanently wet sites. . Never common in its range. Stream banks, seeps, the margins of ponds for full sun and perpetually moist soil. Excellent for use in rain gardens (bioswales). Often short lived in gardens where it is dry. You must supply constant moisture. To 8″ tall by 4′ wide. Not difficult to grow and very climate adapted pea that is welcome in gardens. Oregon native plant.
Oregon iris or Tough leaved iris is the most northerly species of Pacifica Iris- extending its native zone as far as SW Washington. Its common throughout the western part of our state where it decorates grassy hillsides in full sun to quite a bit of shade with jolly purple flowers April-June. That was the most common color where I grew up SW of Eugene. Turns out this Iris comes in quite a few colors. Pink, blue, white, golden yellow, red- all hues that have been recorded for this species. Conspicuous also, among the 11 Pacifica species this is a winter deciduous perennial and its the hardiest of the lot. Forms grassy clumps in fan shaped displays to about 10″ tall. A large clump can be 30″ across and filled with nearly 20 flowers- these rise on cantilevered stems to 14″ tall. Not very tolerant of disturbance and to be honest it has stymied us quite a few times. They HATE division. Therefore, we feature seed grown plants- local seed. These plants feature extra vigor and usually bloom with in 3 years. They also establish better. Best in light shade, dappled shade on slopes. Average, clay soil is what it wants and you can increase vigor by double digging the hole very wide to incorporate oxygen in the soil and water lightly and consistently through the first summer. Then none to light in subsequent years. An admirable competitor with introduced invasives and as per all Iris it is supremely deer and even rabbit resistant. Winter deciduous- also, it may go drought deciduous in extremely dry summers. Mixes well with native annuals. Established clumps live for decades. The flowers have the light fragrance of root beer (at least to me) and are the only fragrant Pacifica species that I can detect. First nation people used the incredibly tough leaves to braid into ropes, traps. Which is cool. Oregon native plant.
Clackamas Iris is a rare endemic to only three counties in northern Oregon. Though it appears in scale with Pacific Coast Iris, it is not related and is more closely aligned with bearded Iris. Pale green 15mm wide leaves first emerge vertically before settling to a more horizontal position. Light lavender buds unfurl to white with yellow on the falls in May-July. In its native range this smaller iris is everywhere which begs the question; Why isn’t its natural range larger? Not bothered by deer or pests this is a supremely climate adapted perennial. To 12″ tall in bloom the arching leaves equal that and spreads out. Light consistent summer water to establish, then only what falls from the sky. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. In habitat it is an understory component with Sword Ferns and shrubs such as Hazel, Oso Berry, and Viburnum. Provide deep rich soil and room to spread. This Iris makes very large colonies quickly- to 3′ wide. The broad leaves are winter deciduous. Wonderful Iris for gardens and wild areas. Oregon native plant.
Iris x pacifica ‘Baby Lilac’
I found this naturally occurring hybrid at the intersection of the species Iris tenax and Iris douglasii in the southern Oregon coast range. There are 11 Pacific coast species and finding a true hybrid with knowledge of the parents in the wild is rare. Pacific coast iris are most closely related to Siberian Iris. These guys crossed the land bridge from Alaska and speciated. Its still possible to cross Pacifica Iris with Iris sibirica. These are known as Calsib hybrids. This is a sturdy evergreen large clump forming Iris with large pale lilac flowers with intricate markings on each lower petal. Full sun to part shade in virtually any soil with little summer water. Water to establish the first season and then none necessary in subsequent years. Excellent plant for wild areas. Cold hardy. Leaf clumps are evergreen and flop a bit in the winter. A very heavy blooming plant- a large clump can have 25-30 flowers. Highly deer and rabbit resistant. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Iris x pacifica ‘Tawny Meadow’
Our first deliberate cross of two Pacifica species has yielded a real looker. Half Iris innominata and half Iris tenax. It inherits the incredible amount of flowers from the first parent which is yellow and more intricate markings and purple hues of the latter. Fun to grow colony producing grassy iris for full sun to part shade. Begins blooming in late April and continues for 3 to 4 weeks. Adaptable to many types of soil, including clay soils. Water regularly through the first summer to establish then none in subsequent years. This little iris ( to 8″ tall) is very wild looking and reminds us of natural hybrids that occur in the wild. In time when you have many flowers per clump it makes a charming cut flower. Two Oregon native perennials. Heh. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Prairie June Grass is a widespread cool season grass that was common in the Willamette Valley. A tight clumping grass with soft blue/green foliage that rises to about 18″ tall forming a clump as wide. In June-August feathery gray/tan plume of flowers erupt and soar above the grassy clump. In bloom it is about 30″ tall. A long lived grass for virtually any soil in full sun. Rich soil results in a very large plant. Average soil that has been double dug to add oxygen is usually all thats necessary. Water the first season to establish then none in subsequent years. Mix with other native perennials and annuals. A great companion for Sidalceas as well as Solidago and Douglas aster. Will often self sow. Keep it away from highly manicured areas. Otherwise the clump keeps to itself. Very easy to grow perennial grass that is found throughout the northern hemisphere. An authentic grass for a Willamette Valley prairie. Winter appearance is green and verdant. Summer brings tan drought dormancy. Oregon native plant.
Celery leaved Licorice root is a subtle native perennial that is widespread in the western third of the state. In late spring umbels of white flowers are symmetrical and beckon to a host of pollinators. Especially attractive to native wasp species that are good and that predate bad caterpillars. The arrow shaped glossy deep green divided leaves provide a handsome collar for the subtle flowers in bloom. The entire plant tastes and smells very strongly of anise and as children on hikes we would eat the green seeds before they ripened for a blasting hit of licorice. To 2′ x 2′ forming long lived clumps in part shade to full sun. Prolific in the Willamette Valley and able to compete somewhat with non-natives. Water to establish plants from containers in rich soil with consistent irrigation until about the Fourth of July. then it can go dry. Self sows moderately. A common component of Oregon oak woodlands. Often found with Phacelia heterophylla and Polysticum minutum (Western Sword Fern). Oregon native plant.
Meadow foam is a native hardy annual that occupies the flood zones in the valleys in most of Central and northern California up to the southern Willamette Valley, mainly in seeps and floodplains, To 4″ tall and up to a foot wide the grass green finely divided leaves are a great backdrop to the yellow flowers which are cleanly tipped white at the edge of the petals. Vigorously reseeds in any soil in full sun to part shade. Leave the dead straw to disperse the seeds or simply shake it where you would like next years display to be. And it WILL RESEED PROLIFICALLY- by early autumn you will achieve an enormous patch. Don’t worry if they are crowded the seedlings seem to work it out. This is a fantastic method for inhibiting winter weeds- YOU get to chose your weeds and this is an easy to deal with plant. A great annual to eclipse the fading foliage of bulbs. No supplemental water required. Completes its life cycle by the heat of summer and has already set hundreds of seeds for the following years crop. This from just one 4″ pot. Winter weeds are the worst cause we aren’t out there on patrol so this is greatly helpful. And the cycle begins again each year. Meadowfoam honey is wonderful btw. Very sweet with a sharp clover tang. Oregon native plant
See video click on IMG 4574
Limnanthes douglasii var. nivea
White meadow foam is a prolific native hardy annual that covers the bottom of inland west coast valleys in white in mid- late spring. Demure plants are actually a floral power house with tons of pure white flowers creating a foaming ivory carpet in bloom. By the heat of summer this true annual ends its life cycle but not before producing millions of seeds to renew the display for the next year. Takes all kinds of soil including compacted dry clay. No additional water is required once established. Each plant is 4″ tall by 6″ wide and they grow together to form an impenetrable layer. One planted potted plant yields hundreds of seedling. White meadow foam is a stunning western native that deserves more use. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Bare stem biscuit root is a locally native perennial that is found in rocky dry areas among clumping native grasses. The stemless rosette bears upright trifoliate glabrous blue leaves. 20″ stems rise up in late spring to earl summer with umbels of sulphur yellow flowers (sometimes purple). To establish, water thoroughly through the first month in the ground. Winter deciduous it emerges very early in spring. Loved by pollinators of all kinds. In the Willamette Valley this biscuit root grows in various biomes but is most common on dry hillsides. Festuca californica and Festuca roemeri are two native grasses seen with this plant in the wild. Full sun to light deciduous shade. Avoid standing water in winter. Long lived perennial once established. Excellent in gravel gardens. Leaves remain handsome after blooming. Spreads slowly to form colonies. Locally native in the Portland city limits. Drought adapted when established. Moderate deer resistance. Resents disturbance once established. Widespread in the west. Important pollinator plant. Common associates in the wild are Potentilla gracilis ssp. gracilis Slender Cinquefoil, and Sidalcea m. virgata Pictured below. Oregon native plant.
Spring Gold or Biscuitroot is a widespread spring perennial from British Columbia south into northern California. In our area it occupies steep slopes and delights in mid-late spring with complex umbels of brilliant gold/yellow flowers. This tap rooted plant requires regular water for the first season- but never boggy, In enriched to average well drained soil. Excellent performance on slopes. Over time the rosette increases in width and amount of spring flowers. Adapted to life between native clumping grasses. This is easily replicated in a garden. An important native pollinator plant that was also used by native Americans as a food source. To 6″ tall in bloom a plant will achieve 2′ wide in half a dozen years. Strongly resents disturbance and a happy plant will live for decades. Not bothered by pests. Once native in the Portland area, its original range in W. Oregon has been substantially diminished. Great companion plant with Manzanita. Goes quietly dormant over summer. Occurs with both Camassia leichtlinii and quamash, as well as Ranunculus occidentalis, Plectritis congesta, as well as Dodecatheon. Moderately deer resistant.
PNW Orange Honeysuckle is one of our most showy native vines. Our region is sparse on native vines so this pretty plant is welcome. In late spring to summer clusters of brilliant orange tubular flowers decorate the branch tips. Loved by hummingbirds as well as other birds which is obvious, its also important for all native pollinators. The flowers change to brilliant red fruit which is consumed by wildlife and seldom lingers. Deciduous mid green foliage is verdant all through the season. As with the vast majority of Honeysuckle vines this plant nearly always goes leafless at the base. Expect this and plan for it. Strongly twining plant to 12′ tall and almost as wide. Provide strong support. Light consistent summer water to establish then very little necessary once established. (Also accepts regular summer H20). Excellent vine for country fences, decorating mailboxes etc. Protect from deer, otherwise it is pest and disease resistant- occasional mildew in the autumn is virtually harmless – great news for a honeysuckle. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering. This vine can be very hard to find. We grow it from seed and quantities are limited. Oregon native plant
Not available 2022/23
Hairy Honeysuckle or wild pink honeysuckle is a common vine in the western part of our state. Ranging rom S. British Columbia to California. This sprawling and twining plant is most associated with the cover under white oak woodlands. This vine can crawl to impressive heights into trees. As a child near Eugene this grew extensively on our property. It would climb pole sized trees and I would strip the winding canes off the trees and use them as a trellis for annual vines. The strong wood lasted 10 years or more. It derives its name from the conspicuous hairs on the leaves. At terminal ends of the branches soft pink curly flowers appear in cymes from June to September. These are followed by brilliant red berries that are food for birds. It has no fragrance. Excellent plant for stabilizing banks and hillsides where its incredible tenacity and drought tolerance is an advantage. Never a tidy plant this vine can be sent up a trellis or large tree. Water to establish then set it free. This honeysuckle can be afflicted with aphids early in the season but I’ve never seen it actually inhibit the plant. Just make sure not to look to closely at the plant in May-June. Evergreen to semi-evergreen with round leaves that surrounding the stem nearest the ends just before the flowers appear. Best in wild areas.- for some it can lack the sophistication of our other native honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa. and is not as immediately beautiful. In habitat it consorts with Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) Poison Oak (Toxicodendron diversifolia) and Creeping snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus). Often found clambering up steep rocky slopes in dry woods. Oregon native plant.
Our locally native silver leaved lupine. A wildflower that beckons gardeners with incredible metallic silver foliage and spires of blue and white flowers from late spring into summer. It has some exacting requirements. Its best to know where you find it in the wild. Steep, steep cliffs and steep open road cuts. What do they have in common? Excellent drainage and little summer water. Spreading almost shrubby evergreen plant to 2′- 3′ wide on average. The very pretty fragrant flowers rise up to about 3′. It seems to resent a lot of competition from other plants- give it room, its own space and again, perfect drainage. Highly deer resistant also not as attractive to rabbits. Oregon native plant.
Lupinus polyphyllus ssp. polyphyllus
Large leaf lupine. This is the form that is native to the western part of the state. There are 5 other subspecies, this is the Willamette Valley form. A large bushy perennial famous for the most showy flowers in the genus. This is the direct descendent that forms the colorful Russell lupines. A great large garden plant and not a long lived plant. Generally 3-5 years is antiquity for this species. The large palmate divided deep green leaves are coated in fine fur. This makes raindrops turn to pure mercury as they balance on the leaves. The most commonly seen flower color forms in the Willamette Valley are generally blue and purple and solid colors. The multi-color vastly larger selections are just as adaptable as the species. Large rocket like flower trusses rise to 3′ tall in late spring to early summer. Loved by insects the foliage is often fodder for native fauna. Excellent pollinator perennial or cut flower. Large peapods stick out horizontally from the spent flower stems. Reliably self sows if you contain the competition from foreign exotics and turf grasses. Potted plants should be watered regularly through their first summer. In subsequent years it can rely on natural rainfall. Very deer and rabbit resistant. To 3′ wide when happy. Protect from slugs/snails. Oregon native plant.
Streambank lupine or Riverbank lupine is widespread shrubby species native to western Oregon. Its full range is from extreme southwest British Columbia (where it is endangered) to northern California. Large growing, spreading plant that can almost achieve a sub shrubby habit. To 3′ tall in bloom forming an evergreen shrublet to 3′ across. From late April to early July spires of blue flowers with a white keel erupt from the plant. Very pretty in bloom and incredibly important to pollinators and insects who feast on the flowers as well as leaves. The true species has flowers that are all blue, its found primarily on sand bars in major rivers on the west side of the state. Most seed that is grown and dispersed is a selected bicolor flower. Short lived plant 3-5 years. Following the flowers conspicuous seed pods turn a dark color, These may be allowed to open and disperse in the OPEN DISTURBED SITES that it craves. Excellent in concert with California poppies where it has become a famous duo on our freeways in the spring. Good cut flower. Not bothered by deer. Water to estalblish then leave it to natural rainfall. Oregon native plant.
Elegant tar weed or Hayfield tar weed is a locally native annual that occupies (or occupied) sunny dry hillsides in selected regions of the western part of the state. Elegant tarweed references both the light tar like fragrance of the sticky 2′ stems and the elegance of the 1″ wide flowers that are the most showy of the genus. Daisy-like flowers range from pure yellow to yellow with a ring of maroon, white, or red around the center. One of our longest blooming annuals flowers appear from April to November. Remove spent flowers apply light irrigation and it will happily continue its show. Nice cut flower- but remember flowers take an afternoon nap and revive with darkness- kind of cool. The dried seeds of this species were a very important food source for native people. They would grind the oily seeds to make a kind of flour or press them to extract oil. To 2′ tall forming multi branched clumps. Re-seeds in places that it likes, mostly sunny, open places with good drainage. Native to the city limits of Portland, though no longer likely present. Fix that. An ebullient pretty native. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Oregon Grape, our ubiquitous state flower. This evergreen shrub can be found almost anywhere aside from the immediate coast to high Cascades west of the mountains. Its native from B.C. to Southern California. Variable shrub to on average 5′ tall and suckering as wide. In rich, happy conditions it will soar to 8′ or more and in more impoverished conditions it makes its life as a spreading low plant. In late February-April the top of the plant erupts in golden yellow incredibly fragrant flowers that are one of the first joys of spring. By late summer these flowers have transformed into clusters of dusty blue incredibly sour fruits. Often employed in the toughest situations where its performance is some what rough. It thrives in cultivation with light, consistent summer moisture. Tolerates heavy clay soils and summer drought. The pinnate leaves often take on purple/maroon tints in winter. Ours are cuttings native to our wholesale nursery site. So its a local plant. Full sun to part shade to quite a bit of shade at the expense of blooming and a lankier outline. Excellent deer resistance when established. Oregon native plant.
Cascades Mahonia is found throughout the western part of Oregon occupying shady environs under the tree canopy. Low growing creeping evergreen with large deep green leaves. They emerge in spring tinted bright salmon before settling to their mature color. In spring spikes of fragrant light yellow flowers appear and then turn into small edible blue berries. Which also attracts birdlife to the forest floor. To just 2′ tall but a single plant can spread to 5′ wide in 6 years. Part shade to shade in rich, humusy soil with regular summer water. Established plants get by with nothing. Takes some patience to establish and a lot of water. Mulch annually. Moderately deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
An incredibly widespread North American wildflower that is known by many different common names. In our region the preferred common moniker is Low False Solomons Seal. This rhizomatous perennial forms expansive colonies when happy. It appears as strongly arching stems clad in alternate wide green leaves. In late spring to early summer and dependent upon altitude small, white, starry flowers appear at the tips. After bloom they slowly morph into black berries. These can easily be dispersed by birds. Part shade in naturally mesic sites, that means woods on the north side of a slope in the Willamette Valley in shade beneath Douglas Firs and often consorting with sword ferns. To 10″ tall and forming expanding colonies. Winter deciduous, fall color is often a lingering gold before the whole plant disappears. Tellima grandiflora (fringe cups) and Claytonia sibirica ( candy flower) are common associates. Part shade to shade in humus enriched soil with regular summer water. VERY established clumps can get by with natural rainfall. Avoid, hot dry sites, and stubborn dry clay. Mulch heavily after planting. Moderate deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Nemophila menziesii ‘Frosty Blue’
Impressive selection of this wonderful native annual. Leaves are brightly frosted in white and make a great backdrop to the sky blue nickel sized flowers. Blooms April-June in part shade to full sun. AKA Frosty Blue Baby Blue Eyes. To 4″ x 6″ forming a spreading plant. Very attractive and it will reseed in the autumn or early spring- the seedlings are immediately identifiable by the silver foliage. Likes to germinate among other small plants/grasses for overwintering protection. Water to establish then only lightly until bloom has ceased and seed is set. The whole plant dies and decomposes almost instantly in the real heat of summer. Excellent in early season containers. This form was found in California but this is also an Oregon native plant.
Giant baby blue eyes is kind of a misleading common name. The flowers in our locally native form of Baby blue eyes are a pure white with black dots on the interior. The only blue that appears on this subspecies is on the reverse of the petals which is often blushed with navy blue. This delightful wildflower grew natively in my back yard where I grew up. In early April to early June it would make sheets of cup shaped blooms under the native white and black oaks. There it bloomed simultaneously with Foothill shooting star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), Prairie stars (Lithophragma parviflora) and western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis) and mission bells (Fritillaria affinis) – a really cool native vignette. Wonderful annual for many kinds of native pollinators. Native bees favor this plant and if you look diligently they will be visited over and over. It will resow itself very reliably if foreign invasive plants are kept away. Mixes really well with (Collinsia grandiflora) Giant Blue Eyed Mary and (Plectritis congesta) Rosy plectritis. A truly exquisite west coast and Oregon native that is adapted to life between clumping grasses. Non native turf grasses will quickly over run and out compete this plant. So, invasive weed control is paramount in maintaining consistent years. In my own backyard it grew between (Festuca californica) California fescue and California three awn (Danthonia californica). Water in potted plants.Protect seedlings in spring and fall from slugs. Oregon native plant.
Oso berry is a classic west coast shrub. Its one of the earliest shrubs to burst into leaf and flower long before anyone else- often as early as early February. Exceptionally fresh green leaves emerge vertically and for a time appear as rabbit ears lining the stems. On female plants fragrant chains of white flowers are showy in a very spring like way. Following pollination chains of charming fruit (the berries or plums)first turn yellow then red/orange and arrive at deep purple. They are reputed to be good. And even though I’ve known this plant my entire life i’ve never tasted a ripe berry. Seems like they disappear to wildlife very fast. There was a thicket of this early spring shrub near the bottom of our long driveway and it would leaf out and bloom in February and March. When I spotted those acid green leaves I knew that winter was over. To 8′ x 8′ quickly from a massively suckering central shrub. Branches soar up and arch out. All the better to observe the colorful fruit. Native, often under Oregon white oaks and in dry woods with Holodiscus discolor/ Ocean spray, Corylus cornuta californica /Western Hazel. By late spring this shrub has all but faded into the background. Often it will lose many or all leaves in a very dry summer, but its drought tolerance is phenomenal. Fall color is soft yellow and shows up nicely on the dark forest floor. Its natural range is from the N. Bay area in CA north to extreme SW British Columbia. Always on the west side of the mountains. Stems force well when brought inside in December- January. Deer resistant and possibly rabbit resistant. This is a very wild looking shrub, goes well with other plants of that mein. Stirs early pollinators and even Anna’s Hummers. These are unsexed seedlings. Best in part shade to shade though it will tolerate full sun with a less refined overall look. Water lightly but consistently for the first summer then none in subsequent years. Virtually any soil type including heavy clay. Simultaneous bloom with flowering currants (Ribes sanguineum). A great garden pairing. Oregon native plant.
Grass widows or Grass maidens is a beautiful and fascinating perennial bulb that is native over a wide but scattered part of our region. Most common east of the Cascades it finds a home in several drier portions of the Willamette Valley. The summit of Spencer’s Butte south of Eugene is one location as are appearances in dry prairie in Benton county. One of the very first conspicuous wildflowers to emerge in February/March. From shallow soils, it lifts to 8″ tall with a wide nodding purple flower- the exact hue of each plant is slightly different. A clump of leaves follows the flowers before going neatly summer dormant. Best in rock garden conditions where you rely only on natural rainfall. Spreads in time to form quaint colonies. Once a Sisyrinchium this member of the Iris family is one of the dearest wildflowers for our gardens. Full sun- no shade at all and amend the soil w/ a handful of pumice. Water after planting until summer heat induces dormancy. Then never again. Seed grown. Avoid crowding from other plants. It can and has been overwhelmed by invasive exotic grasses. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Klamath Ruby’
Far and away our most vigorous clone of our native Oregon Sorrel. So named for the bright red underside of the leaves. In spring and sporadically into summer pure white flowers peek over the foliage. This is a fast colonizing plant that goes by underground stolons and it can cover several feet in a year. In time it will cover anything in part shade to shade in rich, hummus laden, moisture retentive soil. Piles up to about 6″ deep in no time. This form is decidedly evergreen. Use for wild areas to obstruct smaller weed growth- under decks, shady glens, other areas too dark for plants to grow. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Select Pink’
Not the most original cultivar name but its aptly descriptive. Vigorous evergreen ground cover with dramatic hot pink flowers for weeks in spring. Spreads by underground stolons in rich, fertile, woodland conditions with regular summer water. To 4″ high and spreading many feet across shortly (in ideal conditions) . Part shade to shade. Very easy native perennial to grow. This is the second most vigorous Oxalis o. clone that we have behind ‘Klamath Ruby’. Simple pink flowers are pretty and rise up just above the foliage. AKA Redwood Sorrel or Oregon Sorrel. Long lived. Edible. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘White Flower Form’
There are quite a few selection off Redwood Sorrel or Oregon sorrel. This is the most common light green leaved form that you see carpeting shady dells and tree rootwells in the deepest shade. To 8″ tall and spreading vigorously by underground stolons. Clear white flowers in mid to late spring. Edible. Very simple plant to grow in part shade to shade. It will even thrive on an open north exposure. The soft foliage is semi-evergreen and has a great rebirth in spring. Not bothered by pests or deer. Spreads to several feet wide in rich soil high in humus. Do not plant with smaller delicate neighbors this plant will easily swamp them. Avoid full sun and compacted soils. Established plants can get by the summer with minimal to no irrigation. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Wintergreen’
A GREAT PLANT PICK. This staunchly evergreen form of our native sorrel has deep green leaves marked with a silver chevron on each leaflet and large pink flowers in spring. Creeps to form an inpenetrable ground cover. To just 4″ tall but spreading to several feet wide within several years. Spreads underground by traveling stolons. A great native small scale ground cover for part shade to even dense shade. Regular summer water is beneficial but not necessary once the plant is up and going. Very easy to grow climate adapted evergreen perennial ground cover. Oregon native plant.
Oxalis oregana ‘Xera’s Blush’
I found this form of our native Redwood Sorrel in a drier and hotter part of the Siskiyous than what is normally the range for this woodland plant. Large soft green leaves have a silver chevron in the center of each leaflet. In spring very large pale pink/lavender flowers appear with a central yellow eye. Very showy. ideal candidate for dry shade- give it mulch and plenty of water to established then this form seems much more drought and heat adapted than the familiar forms on the market. Forms a semi-evergreen ground cover in shade. Edible. Part shade, shade, regular summer water. Spreads underground by stolons. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Eepah or Yampah is a native perennial in the carrot family that was used as an important food source for first nation people. To 20″ tall 1-3 stems emerge from swollen edible roots and produce pure white umbels of flowers. All parts of this plant are edible and the roots are high in vitamin c, protein, and Potassium. Eaten fresh it has a juicy crispy texture and taste similar to a water chestnut. Cooking Eepah root yields a nutty flavor with a sweet consistency of sweet potato. The large green seeds have a flavor very similar to Caraway and were eaten fresh or dried. Simple looking perennial that is very similar in appearance to introduced wild carrot or Queen Ann’s Lace Daucus carota. Oregon Eepah is native from extreme southwest Washington, much more common in Oregon and northern California. It has lost large amounts of its lowland population to invasive weeds and development. Where it occurs much more frequently is at higher elevations where there is less weed competition. Full sun to very light shade in average to rich soil. Irrigate for the first season, in subsequent years it can survive on rainfall alone. Winter deciduous. NEVER EAT A WILD PLANT unless you are 100% certain of its identity, if not ask an expert before consuming any unknown plant. Great plant for butterflies and pollinators. Its wild appearance lends it to cottage gardens, serious vegetable gardens. Blooms May-july. Its a very pretty cut flower and was once a common component of Willamette Valley meadows (mainly on hillsides). Oregon native plant
Scorpion weed is a beautiful native perennial found on rocky slopes/ hillsides/road cuts throughout California and western Oregon. Handsome corrugated trifoliate leaves are silver and have a pointed tip. In May-July curled flower inflorescences arise unfurling as they bloom to reveal rows of mauve/blue flowers. To 2′ tall in bloom it forms a handsome dome of evergreen foliage to 14″ across. The leaves are the most striking and conspicuous feature of this plant. Pollinators adore the flowers and its especially important for native bees. Full sun to very light shade, average, well drained soil. Light summer water. Excellent in the front of borders. Wonderful bold contrast with other fine leaved silver beauties- it even shines with lavender. As you hike throughout the mountainous parts west of the Cascade Crest the incredibly handsome leaves are sure to catch your eye. Easy to grow and perfectly climate adapted. Oregon native plant.
Phacelia heterophylla ssp. virgata
The most sought after plant for native bees is Varied leaf Phacelia. For anyone who has hiked and camped in Oregon you are likely already familiar with this silvery plant. The divided and rounded laves are clad in silver fur and the leaves are the highlight of this widespread perennial. The flower which shows great promise as it rises from the cool leaves. It opens and then unfurls and you expect a purple or even red flower but no disappointly- dingy off white is what unfurls. Either way its a pollinator paradise. Size is dependent on the fertility of the soil. Often you see this plant in its early rosette forms along just about any path in the state. Western Oregon to Eastern Oregon this widespread plant is specific to our native pollinators. To 18″-3′ (in really rich soil). Short lived Oregon native perennial. About 3-5 years. Reliably reseeds. Seedlings are easy to spot as they mimic the parent plant. Full sun to a considerable amount of woodland shade. Associated plants in habitat are Sword ferns (Polystichum minutum) and Vancouveria hexandra. Moderately deer resistant. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Western Mock Orange is a locally native deciduous shrub with masses of showy white flowers in June to July. These are seedlings of a shrub native to our wholesale nursery site. A certain percentage of the seedlings will be fragrant to a varying extent. The fragrance is most conspicuous after several seasons in the ground. Full sun to part shade in rich to rocky soils with regular water to establish and then set it free. Moderately fast growing to 8′ tall by 4′ . Tough shrub that accepts a lot of soil types, in habitat it is most often seen on hillsides and even appears in riparian situations. Its most typical on the edges of forests. Associated plants in the wild are Western Hazel, Corylus cornuta californica and Oso Berry Oemleria cerasiformis, and Ocean Spray, Holodiscus discolor.Fall color is most often yellow and not spectacular. The pretty mid green foliage blends in to the landscape before and after its profuse period of bloom. Accepts summer drought when established to regular irrigation . Climate adapted shrub for wild areas to shrub borders. Oregon native plant.
Philadelphus lewisii ‘Snow Velvet’
No offense to natives but I’ve always found our native mock orange to be kind of a dull one note shrub. Sure, its showy in bloom and certain specimens can be sweetly fragrant but once its done blooming…yawn. What do you do with it? Instead plant this highly improved selection with enormous semi-double white sweetly fragrant flowers. Each blossom is fully 2″ across and they come in such abundance in June that whole 9′ x 8′ frame is flocked like an enormous wedding gown. Some repeat bloom through summer. Same wild habit as the species which is nice- but incredibly showy in bloom. Full sun to part shade in average, well drained soil. Drought adapted. Great scaffold for summer Clematis. Blooms on old wood, prune AFTER flowering if needed. Forms a distinctive large vase shape. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Adaptable to both cultivated and feral/wild areas. Tough and climate adapted shrub. Oregon native plant.
Pinus ponderosa var. benthamiana
Pacific ponderosa pine is a lovely tree native west of the Cascades from about the Portland area (with some outliers farther north) south to northern California. Our form is from locally collected seed. Slow growing in youth this pine picks up speed in its teens and grows almost exponentially from there. Pacific ponderosa pine is known for it tall straight crowns of lush green needles in clumps of three. This tree is excellently adapted to our winter wet/summer dry climate and even small trees can endure the very longest, driest, hottest summers with no visible stress. Its adaptable to all types of soil – not fussy and is even found in the most well drained stranded flood cobbles of major rivers. To 125′ in time with ulitimate height of close to 200′ in great age – expect a 3′ tall tree to be about 15′ tall in 10 years. Full sun- not very shade tolerant and when planting with other trees anticipate at least a 25′ wide crown in the future. Needles can drop profusely in September which is a bit of a mess. Take note of this. Underplant with other drought adapted natives. Water to establish for the first summer then none in subsequent years. A regal pine that is among the tallest in the world. Oregon native plant.
Plagiobothrys figuratus var. figuratus
Fragrant Popcorn flower is a wildflower limited to western Oregon with its largest populations in the Willamette Valley. This hardy annual is an inhabitant of wet meadows and vernally wet fields. Closely related to forget me nots (Myosotis) this plant erupts into waves of pure white flowers with a tiny yellow eye. The flowers foam between grasses and shrubs for several weeks in late May to July. To 10″ tall unfurling flowers on a plant of small stature. Excellent performance in rain gardens and a very reliable re-seeding plant. Full sun and water potted plants to establish. Self sown seedlings get by with no supplemental irrigation. Excellent with Rosa nutkana, Camas, Ranunculus occidentale. Moderately deer resistant. On warm summer days a field in full bloom emits a sweet perfume.Very good performance in containers and is often superseded in its habitat by Downingia. Excellent native pollinator flower. Especially important to native bumbles. Oregon native plant.
Sea Blush, or more commonly Rosy Plectritis is a locally native hardy annual in the Valerian family. In April-June it swarms meadows and glens with orbicular globes of dense fragrant pink flowers. They rise on average to about 10″ tall. Rich soil will yield larger plants. Excellent bulb cover for late narcissus, tulips etc. Fun to grow heavily reseeding annual that also makes a sweet cut flower. It can be found in the western third of the state. Also wonderful with Pacific Coast Iris as they bloom concurrently. Sets seed and dies by mid summer when the spent carcasses may be removed- when doing that give them a shake where you want next years display to occur. Make sure not to cover the seed, native annual seed requires light to germinate and it will very quickly sprout with the first cool fall rains. Traditionally, Rosy Plectritis can be found in a mix of perennial and annual communities. In its many habitats it can be found with Oregon Iris (Iris tenax) and often Giant Blue Eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora). Water to establish as plants- then none. Full sun to very light shade. New seedlings have paddle shaped true leaves with a rubbery texture. High deer resistance. Native in the Portland city limits. Photo credit: Matthew Hubbard Oregon native plant.
Our native pink Jacob’s Ladder is a great plant for gardens. Hailing from valleys adjacent to the Cascades as well as the coastal strip the finely divided foliage of this clumping perennial is attractive but enhanced when the clusters of very pretty flowers open the palest pink aging to lavender over several days. Full sun to part shade in rich moisture retentive soil. To 28″ tall and somewhat spreading. Blooms for an extended period from April to June. Summer drought will bring dormancy but a little bit of water keeps it green. Great tolerance to dry clay soils and it persists in conditions that would end lesser perennials. Mixes well at the margins of woodlands or the front of perennial borders. Even in its habitat it tends to flop, or rather lean on its neighbors. Expect this and use it to an advantage. The softly colored flowers will wind into other plants playfully and you can achieve really cool and wild appearing vignettes. Very good in concert with native Geranium oreganum as they bloom simultaneously. A really pretty native perennial. Adaptable to heavy clay soils. Soars in rich, amended soils and can be quite a bit larger than I’ve listed. Fairly good cut flower. Oregon native plant.
Our native Licorice Fern that has a backwards season. It emerges all fresh and happy with the first cool weather and rains in autumn and persists that way until hot weather takes hold, then it quietly (and cleanly) disappears. Forms spreading colonies on any light surface including the vertical slopes of rocks and trees. The base of the plant forms an interconnected series of rhizomes that cling to anything. It escapes all drought and heat by summer dormancy. Neat trick. If you detach the fronds and bite into the base of the petiole it delivers a strong anise/licorice flavor. This remarkable plant should be common in living walls and green roofs that would require no supplemental irrigation- and actually thrive and look healthy. Excellent performance in the ground in rich, well drained soil. Water as they say is irrelevant. Highly deer resistant. Oregon native plant.
Western sword fern is one of the most ubiquitous plants on the west side of the Cascades. In many forests in the Coast Range and Cascade foothills it is the sole understory plant. Western sword fern is a large species with long arching fronds. Adaptable to a host of situations. Often self sown spore will show up in the oddest places. I’ve seen it as an epiphyte and even self sown into hot concrete steps. In rich, acidic soil this evergreen fern soar- provided soils rich in humus, organic matter and protected from direct sun with consistent access to water. Very well adapted to our winter wet/ summer dry climate- it will cruise through dry summers unscathed. In the garden it does useful duty in the toughest, dry, shadiest sites. Along with Cast Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior) and Ophiopogon (Lily turf) it is one of the best dry shade inhabitants. As an understory component it is often accompanied by Cascades Mahonia (Mahonia nervosa), Inside-out-flower, (Vancouveria hexandra), and Pacific Blackberry (Rubus ursinus). To 4′ x 4′ in ideal situations. Though it is evergreen western sword fern does go through a transitional period before new croziers unfurl in spring. The 3′ long fronds begin to lie flat on the ground by winter. This is the time to remove tired, old leaves. and make way for fresh, new, unfurling foliage. Though very tough western sword fern does look its best with consistent light water. Supremely deer and rabbit resistant. Long lived and not a slow grower. Oregon native plant.
Potentilla gracilis ssp. gracilis
Slender Cinquefoil is a common, somewhat quiet but easy to grow long lived native perennial. Palmate leaves are conspicuously serrated on long stems. In early to mid summer 20″ stems support multiple clumps of sunny single yellow flowers. Full sun to part shade in average to enriched soil. Water to establish the first season then let it go with seasonal rainfall. Wild looking perennial that shines in borders, among shrubs and along the urban wild lands interface. Very pretty clustered at the foot of Holodiscus whose bloom is simultaneous. Loved by pollinators and an important food source for many butterflies. Native from SW. British Columbia south to San Diego County California. Often found in Ponderosa pine forests. Blooms much more heavily in full sun and improves under cultivation. Winter deciduous. Little deer resistance. Rose family. These are seed raised from Willamette Valley populations so it is the local form. Oregon native plant.
Prunella vulgaris var. lanceolata
As a child in the country near Eugene western self heal was one of the first wildflowers I learned to identify. And its a beautiful and fascinating native perennial. This ‘weed’ circles the world but our locally native form is an exceptional improvement. Lance shaped basal leaves (the trick for identifying our local sub-species) forms stout upright stems. They are crowned with ‘cones’ that have whorls of showy deep purple tubular flowers- they appear continuously for up to 6’weeks into August decorating the tops of a 1′ tall plant. Spreads to form a clump as wide and appreciates average to enriched soil in full sun. Regular summer water increases vigor and lengthens the bloom time. A very charming native cut flower that produces new blooms continuously after its picked. This is a very important plant for native pollinators. Also, it differs from the pan-weedy form in larger cones and much showier flowers. Its a larger plant as well. Adapts to clay soils with regular irrigation to establish. A natural magnet for butterflies. Blooms May-August. In our region it is now found primarily away from the valley in upland valleys to alpine meadows and scree. A good native weed that is a great garden plant as well. Oregon native plant.
Canyon live oak is a vastly underused, beautiful evergreen native tree. Found from Lane county, Oregon south through California, slight parts of Nevada around Lake Tahoe and sporadically in Arizona and even New Mexico. This venerable tree is found on the steepest slopes of canyons and mountain ridges. In Oregon it represents the northern most native Live Oak or evergreen oak in North America. Leaves are glossy army green on the the top with a conspicuous furry gold underside. This is a rugged, tough tree that should be used in both gardens and as a street tree. In the Alameda neighborhood in Portland there is an ancient specimen to 60′ tall and wide with a large trunk. This heritage tree was reportedly brought to the city from southern Oregon via horse and wagon. Slow growing in youth it picks up speed exponentially several years after planting. To 40′ x 20′ in 30 years with a broad spreading crown. In the wild it often forms a gnarled multi-trunked rounded outline. Its very possible to train this tree to a single trunk/leader to extend the crown skyward. Extraordinarily cold hardy enduring temperatures slightly below 0ºF with no difficulty. The large acorns are born in a showy golden hued furry cups- and are produced profusely in banner years. Water to establish for the first season then none in subsequent years. Full sun. Beautiful, native Oak that we cherish at Xera. Oregon native plant.
Quercus garryana var. garryana
Oregon white oak. A monarch of a tree locally native and forming Oak Savanna communities in the Willamette Valley that preceded European development. Slow growing tree of great age and grace. Deep green foliage forms dappled domes in the high rounded canopy. Birds and wildlife adore this completely summer drought adapted tree. To 130′ but not in your lifetime. Our acorn source is local. Whitish bark in patches and it will often develop pure white patches at the base- an outlet for sodium from the constantly saturated Oregon winter soils. Tolerates the most impenetrable clay and shuns summer irrigation. Fall color is russet orange. Grows just 2′-3′ a year in youth -if really happy. This as all oaks has what are referred to as banner years. In certain years huge amounts of acorns are produced. This is thought to overwhelm predators and at least a fair amount can germinate. Famous for its moss covered enormous branches which have been likened to the perfect depiction of a Grimm’s Fairy Tale. Oregon native plant.
Western Buttercup is our own wonderful wildflower. This is the real thing and NOT the invasive Ranunculus ficaria or repens. Traditionally it occupies open Oregon Oak woodlands and meadows including vernally wet meadows. Though it handles winter inundation it is also adapted to upland situations and in every biome it goes quickly summer dormant. Rosettes of pretty pinked leaves elongate in bloom to an airy spray of bright yellow flowers. Intimately, the petals have a glossy sheen. And growing up in the country it was traditional to put a picked flower under your chin and the reflected color yellow revealed that indeed you did like butter. Great cut flower that peaks on May Day and has made many a wild flower bouquet with purple Oregon Iris and purple Dodecatheon hendersonii- Shooting stars. Pictured here with Common Camas Camassia quamash at the Camassia reserve in West Linn, Oregon. Blooms from mid-April to early June. Vast meadows of western Oregon still harbor this sweet short lived perennial. Adapted to heavy clay soils- reseeds when happy. Suitable for mowed meadows as long as it has gone to seed by the time you mow. Wait until June. Good competitor with invasives and absolutely integral to a Willamette Valley meadow. High deer resistance. Oregon native plant
Coast gooseberry or black gooseberry is an intricately branched native deciduous shrub that is incredibly important to wildlife as well as pollinators. Mounding and spreading with fine and prickly needles housed at each node. The maple shaped leaves have a fine skunk aroma up close. To 4′ x 6′ in the extreme this moderately fast growing plant is best in full sun but can handle quite a bit of shade-especially deciduous shade. This species is never common and its found mainly west of the Cascades The small pendulous flower feature red petals surrounding a white corolla. These morph into prickly sour fruits whose final color ripens to black. Fall color is soft yellow to orange and brief. Light consistent summer water in a average to enriched, well drained soil. The berries are edible but intensely sour and make fine food for a wide range of cool birds. Native to the Portland city limits. Excellent shrub for remediation of wild sites. This pretty shrub makes a great transitional plant for wild areas and has a wild look itself. Blooms on wood from the previous season. Prune if needed AFTER flowering. Oregon native plant
Sierra gooseberry or sticky gooseberry is a pretty if prickly native deciduous shrub for rough areas. Charming in bloom , the 1/2″ pendant flowers have sepals that are reflexed and red around a pendant white corolla. After opening they both change to light red and remain showy for several weeks. They line zig zagging stems with three thorns at each node. That means you must site this 7′ tall by 4′ wide arching plant carefully. The flowers are pretty viewed up close and turn into prickly translucent green/red drupes. These are eaten by a huge variety of wildlife and especially smaller birds. Often the shrub will be completely stripped of berries by the time the soft orange fall color appears. Native from the Cascades of Marion county south throughout inland California down to San Diego county CA. Its most often found in dry gravelly areas on slopes in full sun to deep woods where its habit is more restrained and open. Blooms appear in mid spring. Water lightly to establish the first summer then only what falls from the sky in subsequent years. Adaptable to dry shade if it is not completely dark. Moderate deer resistance. Very similar to another native Gooseberry Ribes lobbii which is discrete in its dull non sticky leaves. Wonderful native shrub.Rarely seen in habitat below 1000′. Oregon native plant
Ribes sanguineum ‘Oregon Snowflake’
Excellent improved form of the already popular white flowered Flowering Currant. This form sports foliage that is deeply divided- very pretty- and a more dense and compact habit. Its an incredibly heavy blooming form that has great garden application. To 4′ x 5′ in 7 years with a rounded mounded habit. In late February- April pendant clusters of pure white flowers glow in the early spring sunlight. The buds emerge chartreuse and then become pure sparkling white. This was bred and selected at OSU. And so far has been rare on the market. Full sun to quite a bit of shade with light consistent summer water to establish. Then- it can survive on all that falls from the sky. Takes light irrigation in gardens but never soggy and never soggy during hot weather. Fall color is yellow/orange and brief. Sour fruits are dusky blue in summer. Moderate deer resistance. Derivative of an Oregon native plant. PPAF.
Ribes sanguineum ‘Xera’s Lime Punch’
As luck would have it this lime/chartreuse foliaged variant of our locally native and cherished flowering currant appeared at our nursery. We’ve grown it for years now and it is so much tougher and more reliable than the closely related R. s. ‘Brocklebankii’. Which seems like such a great idea but that most people kill. This is an easier to grow more robust plant. Hot pink flowers contrast in a great way with the lime colored vivid foliage. To 8′ tall and 4′ wide in 7 years. Part shade and regular water to establish the first year then none in subsequent years. Adaptable to many types of soils. Will not burn in full sun but isn’t as happy. Add pep to wild areas. Brighten up shady environs. Blue,very sour fruits appear in early summer. Grows quickly to its ultimate size. Moderate deer resistance. This is a wonderful shrub. (Big pride). Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Ribes sanguineum ssp. sanguineum
Flowering Currant. One of the most conspicuous flowering shrubs over the western half of Oregon. From extreme Southwest BC to northern California. .This v shaped and arching shrub protrudes from highway plantings like a chandelier of pink flowers. Each chain of flowers is a slightly different shade of pink to white on this batch of seedlings. To 9′ x 9′ forming somewhat open shade. Blooms on old wood, prune if needed AFTER flowering has ended in late spring. Fall color ranges from pink to orange and quite often yellow. We had several shrubs of this plant on the property where I grew up. We randomly harvested the branches for cut flowers for almost two generations and none of the plants suffered. They were wild plants and as good as any named variety. Blooms March to April and then maple shaped leaves unfurl and are a quilted nice texture. Full sun to quite a bit of shade at the expense of flowering. Dusty blue fruits cascade in chains as the leaves drop in fall. These are immensely sour fruits. Best on hillsides poking through the rest of the underbrush. Flowers which have a slight skunk funk force easily if brought inside. One of Oregons greatest native flowering shrubs. Moderate deer resistance. Water to establish then only occasionally. Oregon native plant.
Mist Maidens are an integral part of spring in western Oregon. These delicate looking beauties are actually iron tough. Clouds of white flowers sway above rubbery scalloped foliage beginning in early March and continuing to early June. They have the light fragrance of vanilla. Hot weather shuts them down and they quickly retreat to their bulbous roots to wait out summer in dormancy. Once established they require little interevention from humans. Let them romp around in the spring border with such similar perennials as Primula sieboldii and Viola corsica. Just don’t forget that they are there when they magically disappear. To 10″ tall and about as wide. In favored circumstances this Oregon native will happily self sow. Pretty and fresh as spring. Found locally in the coast range in Washington and Yamhill county. Once much more widespread. Its common name is derived from its predilection for growing at the edge of seasonal water falls. Pretty leaves, pretty flowers, easy to please. Oregon native plant.
Rosa nutkana ‘Xera Pink’
Silently living its beautiful life in a seasonally flooded ditch near our wholesale nursery we spotted this deep pink flowering variant of our locally native Nootka rose. Intensely fragrant deep pink single flowers appear from May-July. followed by brilliant red hips that ripen in fall. The first and second year canes carry a heavy mahogany tone that is as conspicuous as the deep pink showy flowers. An incredibly tough and adaptable native rose that can endure both seasonally flooded locations and desiccating summer drought. Even the foliage has a sweet fragrance. Carefree shrub that spreads to form colonies and rises to about 4′ tall on average. Laughs at the heaviest, driest clay soils. Red/orange fall color. Not a shrub for shy neighbors, this rose will win. Give it ample room and plan ahead. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Rubus parviflorus var. parviflorus
Western Thimble berry is a widespread relative of raspberries that grows in many biomes and is especially abundant west of the Cascades. The 5 petal pure white flowers that arrive in spring are among the largest of any Rubus. Thimble berry also does not have thorns. YAY. It forms imposing patches spreading by a creeping rhizome. The large maple shaped leaves can be up to 10 cm wide To 4′ tall and spreading – give it room and plan ahead. The sweet edible red berries appear in mid-late summer. They may be detached from a core on the end of the stem. It leaves a concave hollow berry- shaped like a thimble. Its fairly high in water content which means it does not ship well and its not big as a commercial crop. Nice looking large, opulent shrub for wild areas. Water to establish then none necessary in subsequent years. Thimble berry has a very long lifespan but it is also a seral species populating disturbed sites from fire, logging, roadsides. Full sun to quite a bit of shade with good air circulation- prone to powdery mildew in wet springs. It seldom causes permanent damage to the plant. Fall color is yellow to russet and lingers. Not bothered by deer but birds will predate the fruit and then poop out a whole new colony. Wild areas, margins of forests.
Oregon native plant
Rubus spectabilis ‘Golden Ruby’
This golden leaved form of our native Salmon Berry is an exciting variation for wild areas. The brilliantly colored foliage sparkles with deep pink flowers in spring. In summer it produces salmon colored sweet, edible berries. To 7′ tall and spreading as wide as it would like. Full sun (with irrigation) to quite a bit of high overhead shade. Give this colonizing plant room to spread. It appreciates moist soil but is very tough when established. Deciduous- though it is a short period and the brilliant new leaves begin emerging in late winter. Stream banks, the back area of woodlands, wild areas. Moderate deer resistance. Increases by suckering stolons. Easy native to brighten wild woods. Oregon native plant.
Sambucus mexicana ssp. cerulea
Our locally native blue elderberry makes a good very large shrub or small garden tree. It has beautiful pinnate foliage, large fragrant umbels of white flowers followed by large clumps of edible blue fruit.These appear in May/June quite a bit later than the red druped species S. racemosa. Incredibly fast growing in youth it responds in a robust way to extra water in summer. Adaptable to nearly any soil type. And very drought tolerant as it matures. Fall color is often yellow but also lacking. Birds feast on the berries through winter. Otherwise they hang ornamentally on the bare twigs- also very showy. To 14′-18′ tall and naturally forming a vase shape. Lifespan is typically less than 30 years. Give it room to spread. Edible real fruit set occurs in more well established plants. Widespread throughout the west. Spreads liberally by bird droppings. Oregon native plant.
Pacific Snakeroot is a fascinating native perennial that is native west of the Cascades from British Columbia south -to the tip of South America. A summer deciduous perennial whose presence is really from January to July- before slipping into summer/dry dormancy. This unique plant forms handsome palmate leaves that are edged in black when young. As summer approaches the plant elongates up to 30″ tall and begins to bloom. Tight gold/charteuse inflocenscence that must attract very specific pollinators. I know for a fact that it draws butteries because I vividly remember them visiting this plant in the country. I’ve always found this easy growing plant pleasant and I have to admit that it is present in just about every biome west of the Cascade Crest. At the coast it is nearly evergreen – no need for summer dormancy. The small spiny seeds that perch at the top of plant are carried away by animals. Adapted to a LOT of soil conditions including compacted xeric clay. Forms increasing rosettes to 18″ across. More than likely you will find seedlings. Found in the Willamette Valley with Dodecatheon, Camassia, Rosa, and in shade with Symphoricarpos and Polystichum. Full sun to full shade. Not eaten by deer. Oregon native plant.
Not hard to tell where this stone crop is endemic. It resides mostly in the middle elevations of the western Cascades. Rocky slopes, cliffs, and road cuts is where you find the clusters of small green rosettes that makes large colonies. In summer 4″ stems arrive topped with bright gold/yellow flowers- a pollinators dream. Little spreading plant to just inches high but expanding to several feet wide in well drained, somewhat enriched soil with light summer water. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Forms a dense mat and may be used as a small scale weed blocking ground cover. Easy to grow plant. Roots into the ground as it spreads- evergreen. Oregon Native Plant.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’
An old standard form of our native and widespread Stonecrop. This form is unique for its very pale gray almost white rosettes of leaves. It spreads vigorously in rich to average well drained soil with light summer water. Soil should be light and not compacted. It makes a very good small scale ground cover. Also excellent in rock gardens and even winter containers. Great long lived and easy container subject. To just inches high a single plant can reproduce to several feet wide. In late spring 6″ stems grow upright to display masses of brilliant yellow flowers. Adored by all pollinators. When cold wet weather arrives the entire plant takes on red/raspberry tones. Very pretty. Easy to grow native perennial. Full sun to quite a bit of shade. Oregon native plant.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Carnea’
Interesting form of Stone crop that has foliage that takes on brilliant red/purple tints in cold weather or with drought stress. Powdery blue foliage is arranged in rosettes at the end of 3″ stems. Starting with the outer most leaves the vivid tints become most apparent in mid-late summer through winter. Red stems support clusters of gold/yellow flowers in early summer. Excellent pollinator plant as are all Sedums. Easy to grow in any soil that drains reasonably well. In regular ground double dig the soil to incorporate oxygen into the soil and avoid compaction. It will spread to multiple feet across in short order. In rock gardens it can be a little rambunctious around delicate plantings. Give it room and plan for it to spread. Great in seasonal containers, troughs, rock walls. Light summer water speeds the growth rate- it also inhibits the bright color. Oregon native plant.
Sedum spathulifolium ‘Rogue River’
Would it surprise you that I found this form of native stonecrop on cliffs above the Rogue River? It fascinated me how tightly to the ground this spreading succulent occurred. Gray green foliage appears to be almost rubbery and it grows in a dense pile. Very nice. To just inches high it eventually makes large colonies in rich, to average well drained soil. Light to little summer water. In late spring 4″ stems support hot yellow sunny flowers for weeks. Loved by pollinators of all types. Evergreen and ever lovely form. Perennial borders, rock gardens, containers. Easy and climate adapted native succulent that loves to be in gardens. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
The Willamette Valley is the center of the Sidalcea universe. Willamette Checker Mallow is a fantastic long lived native perennial that thrives in gardens. In May-July and sporadically later stems rise up from low foliage to 14″-36″ and support many soft pink flowers. Loved by pollinators and very easy to grow. This perennial inhabits slopes around the Willamette Valley in very heavy clay soil that dries out to concrete in summer. Adaptable to richer conditions, it also encourages a longer bloom season. Full sun to part shade. Native in Oregon Oak woodlands with Oregon Iris, Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon hendersonii). Pretty meadow flower that combines well with native grasses and the aforementioned perennials. Established plants can get by with very little water. Forms a spreading clump to 2′ wide. This species and several others have a natural range that is defined by the Willamette Valley. Its a special member of the Valley biome. Common associates in the wild are Rosa nutkana var, nutkana as well as Lupinus of various kinds. Good cut flower. Winter deciduous Long lived perennial. Very important for native butterflies. Its a host plant for gray hairstreaks and a nectar source for Fendler’s Blue butterfly. Oregon native plant.
Sidalcea malvaflora ssp. asprella ‘Josephine’
Beautiful Oregon Native Checker mallow that has handsome deep green glossy scalloped leaves and for all of summer a continuous supply of long stems clad in rows of cup shaped pink flowers. Adapted to heavy soils that dry out completely. But improves greatly under cultivation. Flowering stems stretch horizontally and wind their way through neighboring plants. Cute cut flower. Excellent in borders or no water landscapes alike. To 18″ tall in bloom and spreading to about 3′ wide. Long lived and easy to grow. Native to western Oregon. Our selection of a deep pink and prolific bloomer. One of the naturally longest blooming varieties that can remain in bloom for months. Excellent perennial for drawing butterflies. The long stems of cup shaped luminous pink flowers work well as cut flowers. Light summer water and rich soil prolong its performance. Palmate leaves are glossy and good looking. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Sidalcea malvaflora ssp. virgata
Rose checker mallow is one the showiest summer perennials native to the western part of the state. This ‘wild hollyhock’ decorates meadows and swales from slightly south of Portland to the Rogue Valley in SW Oregon. A low rosette of mallow-esque leaves are glossy. The tall straight 16″ spires of densely arranged hot pink flowers wave in the early summer breeze.(Blooms May-July) A great cut flower this obvious mallow relative is among our natives that improves under cultivation. And it is rust resistant. Double dig a wide hole to incorporate oxygen in the soil add a handful of all purpose organic fertilizer into the hole and mix with the existing soil. Water regularly and deeply for the first few months. Allow the ground to dry some between irrigation Loved by butterflies and pollinators and actually one of the host plants for the endangered Willamette Valley ‘Fendler’s Blue’ butterfly. Continuously irrigated plants will have successive flushes of bloom. For native rainfall only plants the show is a little shorter. Long lived, resents disturbance. Excellent with Iris tenax, Penstemon kunthii and all Achilleas. Native to clay soils that dry in summer. Oregon native plant.
Sisyrinchium idahoense var. idahoense
Idaho blue eyed grass is a widespread perennial that forms colonies in full sun, in many soil types, including vernally wet sites. To 18″ tall dark purple flowers open in bright light and close with cloudiness or dark. The blue green foliage is distinctively flat and the plant produces a procession of flowers for 2-3 weeks. Deep purple with a yellow eye and about 1/2″ wide. An integral part of a Willamette valley meadow and only adaptable to full all day sun. Spreads by seed and colonies that increase to form a slender clump. Excellent pollinator perennial and is visited by a wide variety of insects. Found in field that have not been invaded by invasives. Typically its found between native clumping grasses such as June Grass (Koeleria macrantha) Roemer’s Fescue (Festuca roemeri).and with other perennials of the meadow. It can be found from riparian to upland sites. Common associated plants are Carex tumulicola, Dodecatheon hendersonii, Ranunculus occidentalis, Dichelostemma congesta, Clarkia amoena, Camassia, ( C. quamash, leichtlinii ). Full sun, no shade. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent year. Goes summer dormant and will awaken the following February. Oregon native plant
Solidago canadensis var. elongata
Our own west coast form of Golden Rod which can be found in vernally wet locations or even fence rows. Vigorous, strong growing perennial that erupts in plumes of golden flowers from August to October. Spreading via runners it can take up quite a bit of space in lush environs. Best to grow it in un-amended soil with light summer water. Full sun to very light shade. Handsome mid-green leaves line nearly woody stems to 32″ tall. Spreads as far as you let it. Sleeps the first year- LEAPS the second and you have been warned. That having been said its a wonderful romping native perennial for late season pollinators. Its very easy to grow and long blooming. I wouldn’t plant a Willamette Valley meadow without this plant. And my, do you get good bugs. VERY good bugs. Lightly fragrant flowers are great in late season arrangements. Best to pair it with a companion that is just as rambunctious- we select Symphyotrichum subspicatum our native Douglas Aster. Not only do they match each other they make a splendid floral complement and bloom simultaneously. And it will triple the amount of pollinators. Foliage can take on orange/yellow tints in late fall. Cut back in early spring. – but fairly self sufficient. Oregon native plant.
Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida
Underused native Spiraea from the western United States and native in Oregon including the immediate Portland area. Low mounding deciduous shrub to 2′ x 3′. This is the locally native form. Often the straight species is for sale- its from Asia and is 4 times the size of ours. Pink buds open to foamy white flat clusters of flowers appear in late spring. In autumn it turns amazingly vivid colors of red/orange/gold and it holds its color for weeks. One of the most drought tolerant of the genus requiring light summer water to very little. Full sun and rich soil. Spreads to form patches. Locally native and plentiful near the Columbia Gorge and throughout the mountains whose diminutive habit means that pruning is seldom necessary. Blooms on wood from the previous season. Long lived and an excellent landscape shrub. Birch Leaf Spiraea or glossy leaved Spiraea. Native in the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Spiraea x pyramidata
This is our local form of the Pyramid Spiraea an attractive naturally occurring hybrid between two local species. Spiraea douglasii (dark pink flowered) and Spiraea betulifolia var. lucida (white flowered). Its a larger plant and much more controlled than its parent S. douglasii and it inherits some of the drought adaptation of Birch leaf Spiraea. To 5′ tall and 4′ wide this upright growing shrub produces pyramid shaped inflorescences of the softest pink- intermediate between the two species. This form was found just east of Portland. Full sun and occasional deep soaks in dry summers. Tolerates part shade at the expense of a tidy, upright habit. Blooms on wood from the previous season, prune if needed after flowering. Adaptable to wild areas. Deciduous shrub that turns to tones of yellow and flaming orange in mid autumn. This twiggy shrub would make a great hedgerow plant. Blooms late May to early July. Flowers turn to tan seed heads that persist on the plant. Cold hardy and not difficult to grow. Not bothered by pests or disease. Not fussy about soils adaptable from sand to clay. Oregon native plant.
Common snowberry is very widespread in our state and is found in a host of biomes This small, deciduous, suckering shrub begins spring with leaves of the freshest green, so fresh they flutter on the late spring early summer breeze. After several weeks of foliage the small white tinted pink flowers are shaped like small bowls and line the stem at every leaf axil. These morph into plush, plump pure white berries that are quite a bit larger than the relatively insignificant flowers. The berries (drupes) are perched in groups on the stems. Their pure white hue is easy to spot for humans and especially birds.They relish the berries while they are toxic for humans. To 32″ tall forming a dome shaped suckering shrub twice as wide. Water to establish the first season then none in subsequent years. Mulch heavily. The berries last well into winter before becoming animal snacks. The gray thin arching stems create a haze on the forest floor that becomes acid green as leaves appear. Spreads by stolons underground to expand its territory. Its adaptable to both upland quite dry situations as well as vernally wet spots in floodplains and fields. In the Willamette Valley its common associates are with Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) Quercus garryana ( Oregon White Oak) and Fraxinus latifolia ( Oregon Ash) as an understory component. Its tolerant of dense shade as long as its deciduous to full hot sun, Very well adapted to the driest summers. In summer the acid green leaves change to a dark blue green and are often afflicted by a strain of powdery mildew- my whole life I’ve known this shrub and I’ve never seen powdery mildew cause any permanent damage- mostly its just a poor aesthetic look for late summer to autumn. Fall color is soft yellow and brief. Branches may be carefully cut in berry and will hold them in arrangements for quite a few days. An excellent forage and cover plant for native fauna. A great native shrub for beginners. This is the taller form of the two species that we grow. Native to the Portland city limits. Moderate deer resistance. One of our best shrubs for seasonally dry shade. Oregon native plant.
Creeping snowberry is widespread in western Oregon and indeed throughout the state. Its a low suckering deciduous shrub that can occupy large areas. To 30″ tall spread is indefinite in rich to average soil with regular water for the first year to establish. Mulch is extremely beneficial and will suppress weeds for the first few years which can arrive in the middle of a patch of this spreading plant. Leaves are fresh green in spring turning blue green with the heat of summer. Small pinkish flowers occur in late spring and morph over the summer into plush white squishy berries. They line the bare stems and are showy until birds make off with them or they remain and rot. The berries are toxic for humans. Fall color is light yellow to very little. Common on undisturbed slopes on the edges of the valley and in the eastern foothills of the Coast Range and western Cascades. Snow berry is often afflicted with powdery mildew in the driest parts of summer. No harm will come to the plant. A wonderful habitat plant. Oregon native plant.
Hall’s Aster might as well be known as Willamette Valley Aster as this charming smaller perennial is found primarily there. To 20″ tall and spreading to form a wider clump this native aster begins blooming in August and continues into Autumn. The small daisy flowers have rays that are primarily white, though light pink and lavender are also seen. The reverse of the petals is always a darker color- primarily very light lavender. Excellent native pollinator plant for late in the season. Full sun to very light shade in rich to average soil. Adaptable to xeric clay soils that dry in summer. In the garden deep infrequent soaks will yield the healthiest and most floriferous plants. Spreads moderately underground by stolons. Not bothered by deer. Nice little cut flower as filler for bolder arrangements. Climate adapted perennial that is a native for a Willamette Valley prairie. Not as vigorous and space consuming as Symphyotrichum subspicatum – Douglas aster. Hall’s aster fits in much smaller spaces. Easy to grow, winter deciduous. Associated plants in the wild are Sidalcea m. ‘Virgata’, Eriophyllum lanatum, Achillea millefolium. Takes intense dry conditions with establishment. Oregon native plant.
Symphyotrichum subspicatum ‘Sauvie Snow’
We selected this form of our locally native Douglas Aster for its snow white flowers. The species in our area ranges from blue/lavender/blue-white. So, this is a nice color break. One of the very best pollinator perennials that we grow. In bloom from July-October it is virtually swarmed by every flying insect you can imagine. A constant buzz of activity. This is a large, rambunctious perennial that is not good with delicate neighbors. Douglas Aster belongs in the wild where it can consort with other similarly over-adapted natives. Virtually any soil in full sun to light shade. In bloom it rises to nearly 30″ and the spread is nearly indefinite This is a rugged perennial for tough sites, even areas submerged during the wet season. Not a bad cut flower. Mix with large ornamental grasses such as Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ or Panicum virgatum ‘ Heavy Metal’. Mix with native shrubs- Mahonia aquifolium, Oregon Grape and Holodiscus discolor ‘Ocean Spray’. Drought adapted when established but it appreciates a soak now and again to prolong the bloom period. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction
Symphyotrichum subspicatum ‘Sauvie Star’
One of our color selections of the locally native Douglas Aster. This cultivar originates from seed collected on Sauvie Island. This is the predominant wild Aster of the Willamette Valley. A boisterous long blooming perennial at home in wild areas. Rich to average soil with light summer water. Blooms- in this case, periwinkle blue open in early August and continue unabated to October. They are beacons to all pollinators and are constantly in motion as they bloom. To 32″ tall forming wide patches. Runs by underground stolons. Nice cut flower. Wetland remediation, forest verges, denuded road cuts. Those are jobs for you Douglas Aster. Oregon native plant.
Xera Plants Introduction.
Locally native on our nursery site Fringe Cups or Fairy Bells as they are commonly known are a spreading perennial for moist shady sites. Low mounding maple shaped leaves cover the ground densely and in late spring vertical spikes appear to 18″ tall and sport rows of small green cup shaped flowers which change to white and finish with tints of pink. Closely related to Heuchera and thrives in the same conditions. It will even take full sun in moist conditions. It is a background plant because it often suffers from powdery mildew late in summer which is mostly just ugly and I’ve never seen harm to the plant. The drier the conditions the worse the affliction. Good air circulation helps but its best to just accept that this is how this native perennial rolls. Semi-evergreen in winter. Woodland borders, shady containers. Very easy to grow. Often grows with Claytonia as seen below. Flowers emit a sweet fragrance. Oregon Native Plant.
A widespread perennial in the Pacific Northwest. There are two subspecies and this larger leaf form is the more common of the two. A mounding deciduous perennial for moisture retentive soils in light shade to shade. This perennial is often seen along creek banks and seeps where access to water is not very far away. In May-July 18″ spikes of clear starry white flowers crowd a vertical stem. Very pretty and light. An excellent native perennial for woodlands, stream banks. riparian areas. Spreads in rich soil to form extensive colonies foliage tops out at 8″. Excellent combined with native and non-native ferns. Very dark green leaves are handsome throughout the season on a tough and easy to grow plant. Fall color is red and orange before leaves go away. AKA Trifoliate Foam Flower, Northwest Foam Flower. Not bothered by disease or pests that includes snails and slugs. YAY. Oregon native plant
Piggy Back plant is what we called this moisture loving woodland plant. Its famous for its ability to sprout a new plant right from the leaf petiole, it forms roots and drops off the plant and roots into the ground. Its also commonly known as a very easy to grow houseplant. Native from Southern Alaska to Northern California. In moist, cool climates like the coast it can grow just about anywhere. The distinctly arrow shaped leaves cover the ground densely on a wide spreading perennial. In mid-spring 2′ spikes erupt with rows of brownish-red flowers. A member of the Saxafrage family and closely related to Heucheras and Tiarellas. this is as superb a garden plant. Evergreen and consistently moist shady sites are where it thrives. Though with some supplemental water it can make its home in some pretty challenging dry shade. Foliage forms spreading mounds to 10″ tall and spreads laterally 2′-3′ when happy. Plants shrink somewhat in winter, and not as verdant but they do cover the ground and out compete weeds. Great container plant. Very nice naturalized among ferns of any kind. Native to the Portland city limits. Oregon native plant.
Tolmiea menziesii ‘Taff’s Gold’
An exceptional variegated form of our native “pigaback” plant that is excellent as a groundcover in dense to light shade. Vigorous and evergreen it will spread to 4′ wide in 2 years but stay only 1′ tall. Very easy to grow, works well under established Rhododendrons. Pretty, but not conspicuous brown flowers. Regular water but will take drought if in the shade. Easy, indispensible native plant. Forms new plants directly from the center of each leaf. Cool trick. Also grown as a houseplant. Good in containers. Oregon native plant.
Tomcat clover is one of our showiest native clover species. A tough hardy annual that is found from about Salem to Newport south to California. Its a common component of waste places and dry rocky environs. In poor soil it is a somewhat meager plant with just a little fertility its a completely different animal. To 12″ tall but usually half that this sparse but showy clover beckons pollinators when its pink to red and white delicate looking flowers that erupt into bloom in May-July. Very easy to grow in containers with other native annuals. This shares the fecund trait of other clovers and it will already have shed seed by the time you see it in bloom. Excellent forage for native bees- and purported to supply a tangy taste to Tomcat Clover Honey. Water plants from containers to establish, self sown plants get by on natural rainfall alone. Leave the plant well past bloom to shed the following years crop. Give it open disturbed spaces to self sow. The leaves are very much like a clover but the leaflets are a lot thinner. Also found on dry stream banks and with native clumping grasses. Full all day sun. Oregon native plant.
Springbank Clover. Fascinating perennial clover that was once widespread in wet areas of the Willamette Valley and is now found in restricted sites there but is much more prevalent on the coast and east of the Cascades. A pretty spreading spring wildflower with heads of brilliant magenta/purple flowers. Mainly in spring but also in summer if wet. To 4″ tall it can be up to 2′ wide in favorable conditions. Though mostly restricted to seeps and wet areas now it once made life under native white oaks and there indigenous people would use it as a food source. The creeping green stems root where they touch the ground. Stems were harvested and steamed as a vegetable and they replanted as they harvested the remaining stems ensuring another crop. Not a long lived perennial 3-5 years but it sets copious seed. Wet sites in moisture retentive soil. Mainly riparian in habitat. It can dry considerably in summer and still thrive. But regular water is what it wants. Fun plant to grow that has lost a LOT of its native range. In habitat it is best seen on the wet cliffs adjacent to the beach. Great pollinator plant. Easily overwhelmed by invasive exotics. Oregon native plant.
Giant Trillium or Great Western Wake Robin, I think the first name is the most common. This sweet large woodland Trillium inhabits moist woods in the valleys of the western side of the Cascades. Its sporadic in occurrence but when you do stumble upon it in the woods its often very profuse. The stature and individual leaf size are what give this somewhat subtle flowered perennial its name of Giant Trillium. It is very easy to tell aside from western Trillium, T. ovatum. which is a smaller daintier plant with larger white flowers that normally senesce to pink/red before falling apart. Giant Trillium has much smaller individual creamy white flowers and they almost appear as an afterthought in the center of the large leaves which can appear initially with black mottling that then fades. To 2′ tall and increasing to form large patches in vernally moist woods. Giant Trillium goes dormant by mid summer and there is no presence until the following spring. Beware deer love Trilliums. There are two other sub species of Giant Trillium endemic to the Willamette Valley. This is the most widespread species. Rich, moisture retentive soil in part shade to shade. Oregon native plant.
One of Oregon’s greatest wildflowers. This native of the Siskiyous and the SW part of the state makes an outstanding garden plant. Ours are divisions from well marked leaves and flowers with a deep maroon/black hue. To 18″ tall in bloom it responds readily to rich, humus filled soil with regular summer water. In very dry conditions it will go happily summer dormant. And it usually does anyway by the end of the hot season. The black and green leaves are dramatic but a great collar to the tall upright dark flowers. Blooms appear in Portland in April/May and last for weeks. Part shade to shade- avoid blasting hot sun- it will grow in sun but go dormant very quickly. Roots very deep into the ground- difficult to move once established so pick its home carefully. Multiplies into a substantial patch with good care. One of our favorite native wildflowers. Limited quantities. Oregon native plant.
Fool’s Onion, though this close relative of Brodiaea is easy to tell apart from Allium as the leaves and stem have no onion odor. A sunny native perennial bulb that forms colonies of white in May-July in meadows, glens, and swales. To 15″ tall in bloom but usually shorter the leaves emerge in mid winter and persist until summer drought. About that time the flowers erupt into clusters of white flowers. Great native bulb for naturalizing, Water if planting from a pot, otherwise it requires only what falls from the sky with a distinct dry period in summer. Associated plants are Ranunculus occidentalis- Western Buttercup, and Brodiaea elegans- Cluster lily, and Plectritis congesta- Sea Blush. Native in clay soils that dry completely in summer. Goes very neatly dormant in summer- nothing is left. Excellent in rock garden conditions. Full sun to very light shade. Moderate deer resistance. Native though out western Oregon. Sweet cutflower Very good for butterflies as well. This plant once occupied large areas of the Willamette Valley, that territory has shrunk considerably. Oregon native plant.
Inside-Out-Flower is a commonly seen terrestrial component in dry to moderately moist woodlands in our region. The duck foot shaped leaves are conspicuous and pretty and in late spring to mid-summer a continuous supply of dainty downward pointing white flowers. Spreads in gardens very well in enriched soil with regular summer water where it will quickly assume the role of an intertwining ground cover. Winter deciduous- un-like its close and much more drought adapted relative Vancouveria chrysantha (Yellow inside-out-flower, Siskiyou Vancouveria). This perennial is perfect for life among shrubs or mixing with other woodland perennials in part shade to shade. Adapts well to garden culture and thrives on regular summer irrigation. Locally native in the city of Portland. To 10″ tall and spreading. Some deer resistance. Oregon native plant.
Oregon Viburnum or Western Way Faring tree is a moderate to large native deciduous shrub. It stretches a little bit into W. Washington where it is rare but its primary populations are in western Oregon and south into N. California. Its found in moist to dry woods often on the margin where its can get at least half a day sun. It also thrives only much larger and lankier in outline in the shade. It easily tolerates winter inundation but is found on well developed soils in upland situations as well. Its common associates in the wild are Oregon white oak/Quercus garryana, Oregon Ash/Fraxinus latifolius, Cornus stolonifera. Leaves are round, glossy and scalloped and are very handsome on a well proportioned fountain shaped shrub. Shorter in full sun, taller in shade. This plant needs just a modicum of light watering for its first year and once it is thoroughly established you can set it free. In late spring off white cymes of flowers have the fragrance to me of raw potatoes. We had a large specimen of this shrub in our back 40 where I grew up near Eugene. In certain years it can produce quite a fall show with orange/red tinted leaves and translucent blue fruits. Blooms on wood from the previous year. Prune if needed AFTER blooming has ended. June. To 5′ tall in the sun to much taller in shade. Protect young plants from deer. Oregon native plant.
Viola praemorsa ssp. praemorsa
Canary violet or upland Violet has many subspecies in the PNW and west in general. This is our own Willamette Valley form of this intriguing handsome perennial. Large spoon shaped leaves have an underside with conspicuous hairs. The top of the leaf is glossier. In April-May bright yellow flowers appear. The bottom petal has conspicuous black whiskers. In our region this violet is local in the most undisturbed sites but it shows very good persistence in competition with non-native introduced grasses. My experience is that it favors rocky and scree sites that remain somewhat cool- for instance the north side of a steep slope. To 6″ tall and forming expanding plants. Winter deciduous. Arrives early in spring and can go summer dormant with high heat. Excellent planted in fall or winter and left to its own devices. Average to enriched soil yields the best results. This is one of the showiest violets native to the Willamette Valley. Fairly long lived. Little deer resistance. Some associated plants are Olysinium douglasii, Sedum spathulifolium, Dodecatheon hendersonii. Oregon native plant.
Yerba de Selva or whipple vine, a wonderful small scale evergreen native ground cover. Related to Hydrangeas but this trailer is actually very droughtadapted.e In late spring clouds of small white flowers , Scrambling plant to about 8″ tall and 2′ wide. Full sun to considerable shade. From Portland south this is a common understory component of the herb field. It grew happily in our back 40 where I grew up. There it made pretty scrambling patches between Vancouveria, snow berry and hairy honeysuckle. Often you would see our native columbine ( Aquilegia formosa) as an associate. Its very drought adapted when established but it improves with a few soaks over summer- never perpetually wet and never hot and wet. Otherwise an easy native that should be grown a lot more. For use as a small scale ground cover plant on 10″ centers. It will also gracefully trail over rockeries and walls. Butterflies adore the flowers. Competes well with invasives. Some deer resistance. It may be cut back in early spring to refresh. Once native in the Portland city limits. This is a great native understory for Arctostaphylos, which is frequently seen in the wild. Oregon native plant.
Mules Ears are rare in cultivation. These cheery bold perennials make the transition of our wild flowers from spring into real summer. So named for its long leaves it forms very permanent spreading colonies in clay soils in habitat. The brilliant yellow sun flower blossoms rise up on sturdy stems directly from the ground. Each ebullient large flower is about 4″ across. Blooms appear from late April to early June. This plant usually finishes blooming just as summer drought commences. Its a memorable sight in wild meadows where it blooms simultaneously with native Rosa nutkana and Farewell to spring (Clarkia amoena var. lindleyi) and Giant blue eyed mary (Collinsia grandiflora). Wonderful cut flower and immediate and popular pollinator perennial. This plant was once very common in the Willamette Valley but civilization has immensely shrunk its native range. Good, long lived garden plant that goes summer dormant quickly after blooming has ended. The leaves turn gray and brittle and can easily be removed then. Give it a summer rest w/ little to no summer water once established. Full sun to very light shade. Water to establish its first season then none in subsequent years. Fun to grow and LONG lived. To 14″ in bloom forming a plant several feet across. Moderate deer resistance. Native to the Portland city limits. Very slow to finish in a salable size. Patience. Limited quantities. Oregon native plant