Dwarf Lupine or Pacific Lupine is a widespread small hardy annual that is found all along the west coast from British Columbia to Mexico. In the Willamette Valley its most conspicuous home is along the disturbed soil and gravel of highways/roads. Thats where you see masses of this diminutive lupine that rises to just 1′ tall. The intricate flowers erupt from the top and are mostly blue with purple and the bottom has a white lip. These are displayed above very furry palmate leaves. It forms a small rounded plant. Loved by all pollinators this tough little plant can inhabit the worst, shallow soils and still thrive. If given richer conditions this nitrogen fixer will soar to 1′ tall with a much larger flowers. Excellent in annual containers – it blooms for a long time April-August or until the ground goes completely dry. Horizontal bean pods hold three seeds each. Self sows in open disturbed sites with little competition from other plants. Only water if it is planted from a container otherwise no supplemental irrigation necessary. Very beloved by hummingbirds and butterflies. Mixes well with other long blooming hardy native annuals such as Madia elegans or Clarkia amoena. Seed that is released in summer germinates in autumn with the first fall rains. Easy to spot the palmate leaves. Oregon native plant.
Prairie wood rush is such poetic name for a sedge that is widespread on the west side of the Cascades from BC to N.California.The common name describes its love of both open conditions as well as woodlands. Its adapted to winter wet summer dry conditions and is found in a lot of different biomes. Soft green leaves terminate in a blunt tip. The leaves are covered with fine hairs. In spring wiry stems grow to 11″ tall with tawny black flowers followed by seed heads. that are swollen and brown. A component of oak woodlands in part shade to the verge of wetlands where it is found in full sun. Forms a wispy clump that expands slowly. As with most sedges it will respond to better conditions vigorously. Excellent for insect and wildlife. Semi evergreen., especially if drought stressed, (plants much be established well to do this and survive). Part shade to full sun with regular irrigation to establish then little to none in subsequent years. Pretty wispy sedge with a poetic name. Oregon native plant.
Menzie’s Larkspur is one of the most widespread species west of the Cascades. That doesn’t mean it easy to grow, and as a crop it can be a pain, That said its one of the ultimate spring flowers and its lost immense amounts of its range in the Willamette Valley to development. This widespread perennial is a grassland Delphinium that can be found in oak woodlands with Dodecatheon hendersonii, and Plectritis congesta and Romanzoffia californica. The soils that it inhabits run the gamut from sand near the beach to xeric clay in and around the Willamette Valley. This can be a tricky species to establish, my best advice is to double dig a wide area where there is very little competition from other plants. Add a small amount of all organic fertilizer to the hole. Water in well and water again once a week until June. Then you can permanently taper off. That means in subsequent years it will rely on natural rainfall alone. Upright perennial to 20″ tall multiple brilliant blue flowers often with a lighter bee. I’ve also seen them in a deep black/blue velvet purple. Sets seed and goes dormant in mid-summer. Its very very important to protect the emerging plant or seedling from snails and slugs. Bait heavily when you first see growth in late winter. Though widespread but no longer common this Delphinium seems to adapt best to cultivation with a light gravel mulch. This protects the plant from slugs and provides a perfect medium to germinate the seeds. Very popular pollinator plant visited by all sorts of bees, fly bees, hover flies, butterflies and more. The seedlings are conspicuous and the leaves mimic the parent plant. Full sun to light shade. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.