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Pacific Northwest Flowering Shrubs

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 20:36
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While conifers dominate Pacific Northwest forests, a profusion of shrubs and understory trees bloom in startling displays of color in the spring. Below are some of the most common shrubs and small trees to look for in spring bloom.

Pacific Northwest Flowering Shrubs

Oregon Grape (Berberis nerviosa)

Oregon grape decorates the forest all year with its glossy, holly-like leaves. But come April, its bright yellow blossoms are like sunshine amid the forest dampness. Blooms can continue into June and are followed by purple berries. This plant is low-growing (up to three feet) and thrives along forest borders. A very similar species, Tall Oregon Grape (Berberis aquifolium), looks nearly identical, but grows up to six feet tall and is found further inland than its low-growing cousin. It is often used in landscaping. Also called Mahonia, tall Oregon grape is the Oregon state flower.

Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)

Rhododendrons have been cultivated in a variety of colors for the garden. But in the Pacific Northwest they grow wild with huge clusters of pink blossoms. A broadleaf evergreen, native rhododendron grows as an under story shrub of coastal and Cascade Range forests from California to British Columbia. It can often be seen in profusion on the edges of sandy coastal dunes. It generally blooms from May through June. The Pacific rhododendron is the Washington State flower.

Pacific Dogwood (Cornus nuttallii)

This dogwood grows to a small tree and is a favorite because of its showy white spring flowers. The white actually is formed by leaf bracts circling tiny flowers tightly clustered in the center. Stems on dogwoods grow opposite one another, making the plant easy to recognize even without the flowers. Leaves are also distinctive for the veins that swoop upward following the leaf outline. Flowers appear as early as March, before the leaves. Blooms may continue to appear into May. Pacific dogwood is the provincial flower of British Columbia.


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