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.

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Ceanothus cuneatus ssp. cuneatus ‘Mary’s Peak’

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

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Ceanothus integerrimus

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

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Ceanothus parryi

This is a fascinating shrub for several reasons. AKA Ladybush or Parry’s Ceanothus was first described in Oregon in the central Oregon Coast Range in 1982. The last shrub to be discovered in our state. What is more fascinating is that the next closest population of this Ceanothus begins in Sonoma County California – 500 miles to the south. This disjunct appearance of what was thought to be a California species only was a bit of a surprise. Located in the Preacher Creek drainage in the Siuslaw National Forest this formerly logged area holds several populations. A very wild looking shrub that is semi-deciduous to deciduous in our winters- the tiny leaves  (1/2″ long) attach to stems that are bright light green and in fact in the winter the whole shrub has the look of a rush or a broom. Known for its very large trusses of light blue to dark blue flowers each flower cluster can measure 1′ long. Our native form of C. parryi is light blue and covers itself in pollinator loving bloom in May. To 6′ x 6′ in average soil. Water to establish and then none in subsequent years. There is nothing formal about this plant, very wild and it mixes well with other native shrubs in full sun to very light shade. Very easy to grow- avoid overly enriched soil and too much irrigation or this big wild shrub will soar. Average soil with water for just the first summer leads to the best incremental growth and a plant that doesn’t get out of hand. In habitat in Oregon this shrub is associated with Douglas fir, Vine Maple, and Vaccinium.  In bloom this Ceanothus is literally swarmed by pollinators. Easy to grow very pretty native shrub. Blooms on wood from the previous year, prune if needed AFTER flowering has ended. Excellent see through shrub for hell strips. Oregon native plant.

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Ceanothus sanguineus

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.

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Clarkia amoena 'Dwarf Pink'

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.

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Clarkia amoena 'Dwarf White'

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.

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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.

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Claytonia sibirica

Claytonia sibirica

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. 

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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.

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