Blechnum spicant (Struthiopteris spicant)

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.

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Brodiaea coronaria

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.

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Brodiaea elegans

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.

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Red Maids. A lovely native hardy annual for the sunniest spots. Rosettes of semi-succulent  paddle shaped leaves are about 5″ wide.  Found primarily in poor soils in hot sunny locations. Thats where you find it in habitat, the sides of gravel roads, rocky hillsides and good drainage. Beginning in May a constant procession of 1/3″ hot magenta flower are showy when they open in full sun. Native primarily to western Oregon its found through out the west. Resows reliably especially in gravelly soil. Calandrinia should be watered when they  are planted from containers just to get it established. Self sown plant are incredibly drought adapted in our climate. This plant literally grows from desert to the mountains. Loved by a lot of pollinator its especially attractive to butterflies.  Great in containers as well. Shocking magenta pink. Oregon native plant.

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Calochortus tolmiei

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.

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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.

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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, Thalictrum fendleri, and Delphinium trollifolium.. (Photo credit Guy Meacham)  Oregon native plant.

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Timber sedge is an evergreen somewhat floppy Carex that is found extensively in western Oregon. It blooms in spring with  thin green spikes and upward facing catkin like flowers. The rich green smooth foliage is distinctively pleated and about 4mm wide. Forms a sprawling clump and will seed around, especially in moist locations. It is ideal under native oaks and firs where it is found in the wild. Often in clear cuts in the Coast range there is a distinct period when this sedge dominates before being succeeded out. Tolerant of full sun to high overhead shade. Best at the edge of a forest with half day sun Light consistent water to establish then you can set it free. Tolerates heavy clay soils well. To 1′ tall in bloom to 18″ wide and never tidy. Fairly good winter appearance but it can be cut back in early spring to refresh. Plant with Carex lepidota and Aster chilense. Oregon native plant.

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Carex pachystachya

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. 

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Carex tumulicola

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.

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