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Bigleaf Maple

Bigleaf Maple Bigleaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum
Aceraceae – Maple family

“Acer” is the classical Latin name for maple. “Macrophyllum” aptly describes the big (“macro”) leaves (“phyllum”) of this native maple.

The leaves have five deeply cut lobes and may be 8 to 12 inches in width, larger than leaves of any other native or introduced maple. The fragrant yellow blossoms of April and May develop into double-winged fruits by fall. The winged seeds (samaras) are paired but gradually become separated upon maturity. In fall, wind gusts transform the samaras into whirling, spiraling airfoils to the delight of children and squirrels, the latter collecting and opening the samaras for seeds. In the forest, the stout main trunk and vertical side branches stretch upwards to a height of about 100 feet. The base of the trunk is often cloaked by a thick layer of moss, forming a unique niche for licorice ferns. Though the trunk and leaves are of great magnitude, close inspection of the leaves and samaras reveals a very fine venous pattern displaying an unexpected and delicate beauty.

Native inhabitants found bigleaf maple wood exceptional for carving bowls, dishes, platters, spoons, canoe paddles, and cradleboards. Some used the bark for making rope, and the leaves for lining cooking pits. Big leaf maple trees today serve as large shade trees for parks and big yards. They provide food and shelter for birds and squirrels, and even produce syrup that is reportedly close in quality to that of sugar maple (5-51).


Bigleaf Maples

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park, Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Black Cottonwood

Black CottonwoodBlack Cottonwood, Populus trichocarpa

Salicaceae – Willow family

It is the seed (“carpa” meaning “fruit”) that is cotton-like (“tricho” meaning “hairy”), not the wood, that is the basis for the common and specific names. The generic name is Latin meaning “people” for poplars (Populus spp.) and was commonly planted in Roman cities.

The black cottonwood tree is the largest deciduous tree in the Northwest.

Young bark is light gray and smooth contrasting sharply with the darkened fissures of older bark. The leaf buds are large, pointed and exude a sticky sweet-scented resin. The leaves are triangular, dark glossy green above and whitish beneath. Remember the cottonwood when warm summer breezes are filled with cottony fluff carrying tiny seeds produced by the female trees.

Native groups used the wood for posts, the bark for roofing and young shoots for lashing and tying. The infusion of bark found use as a gargle for sore throat, the bruised leaves as an antiseptic for cuts, the buds to prepare an eyewash, and the resin from direct application on cuts and wounds. The Native medicinal uses parallel European uses of black poplar (Populus nigra), and are very likely based on the anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties of tannins, resins, essential oils, and the glycosides salicin and populin.

Black Cottonwood
Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History”
by Ed Chinn.
Illustration by Michelle Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Bracken Fern

Bracken Fern

Bracken Fern

Bracken Fern, Pteridium aquilinum
Polypodiaceae – Fern family

The broad leaves resemble great “wings” (“pteron” in Greek) giving rise to the generic name. On closer inspection, these leaves are three times pinnate, a pattern suggesting an eagle’s claw (“aqui”) thereby giving rise to the specific name.

The large, feathery fronds of the bracken (brake) fern usually rise several feet above the forest floor from thick underground stems (rhizomes). In the Northwest, this is the tallest and fastest growing of the ferns, reaching heights up to 16 feet in very favorable conditions. It’s refreshing tropical-like greenery of the spring and summer are lost in the fall as these fronds turn yellow and then a shriveled brown by winter. After being roasted and peeled, the thick starchy rhizomes were widely used for food by Northwest Natives. The tender “fiddleheads” of unfurled leaves were also consumed. However, bracken fern contains several chemical compounds that when ingested in great quantity as cattle are prone to do, can prove toxic. It follows that cattle ranchers generally regard this fern as a weed (5-31).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Cascara

Cascara

Cascara, Rhamnus purshiana

Rhamnaceae – Buckthorn family

“Rhamnos” is the Greek name for buckthorn. The specific name honors Frederick Pursh (1774-1820), an American botanist. The common name is Spanish for “bark,” the best known and useful part of the cascara tree.

Native people along the west coast of North America universally used the cascara bark as a laxative, a practice adopted by Western medicine and continued to this day. Spanish missions of long ago recognized the medicinal properties of this tree and anointed the active ingredient “cascara sagrada” (literally “sacred bark”). The harvesting of cascara bark was once a major industry in the Northwest. Extract of cascara tree bark can be found in the medication section of most neighborhood grocery stores. One commercial brand contains 150 mg. of “cascara sagrada” per tablet. Cascara trees are relatively small, growing up to 35 feet in height, with one or more erect trunks covered by nearly smooth, grey bark.Cascara

The deciduous, oblong, and alternate leaves are distinctively shiny with 1 to 12 pairs of prominent parallel ribs. Inconspicuous green flowers in spring develop into juicy black, berry-like fruits by summer. Birds and other animals relish the sweet fruit, but some authors consider the fruit toxic to humans. Cascara trees, while not numerous, are more common than perceived, for they are inconspicuous amongst the larger trees to the casual observer (5-16).

Cascara

 

 

 

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn. Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Cherry Species

flowering tree
Cherry, Plum, and Laurel
, Prunus species

Rosaceae—Rose Family

The generic name “Prunus” is Latin for “plum.” Many individual species of the genus Prunus have been cultivated over countless centuries in many parts of the world – peach and nectarine, apricot, almond, cherry, plum, prune, and laurel.

Wild cherry seedlings are constantly dispersed over fields, woodlands, and neighborhoods by birds and animals. Many, if not most, of the wild seedlings in our populated areas are probably escapees of cultivated cherries, especially Prunus avium (Sweet cherry of European origin) favored by birds as the species name implies, and Prunus cerasus (Sour cherry). Escaped varieties of sweet cherries are quite common, and may be distinguished from native cherries by relatively large leaves, between three to six inches long, and large sweet fruit. Other common species that have escaped to the wild include the flowering plum trees (several species) of neighborhood yards, and English laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) used to form dense hedges with glossy green leaves.

The native bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) has oval leaves one to three inches long and produces bitter red to black fruit between 1/3 and ½ inch in size. Bitter cherry trees may attain a height of 50 to 80 feet and a diameter of 12 to 18 inches. The bark is shiny red-brown and peels in horizontal strips. Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), another native, usually grows as a tall shrub and has 1.5 to 4 inch elliptical leaves with pointed tips. The dark red black fruit hang in characteristic racemiform (elongated) clusters. All cherry trees can be identified by the distinctive lenticels or pores circularly arranged around their trunks. Native cultures have widely used chokecherry for food. The pounded fruit is a major ingredient of pemmican to which dried meat is added. There is little historical mention of using bitter cherry for food. However, the lustrous dark bark of the bitter cherry is still an important material for the appealing designs of imbricated basketry (5-18).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Douglas Fir

Douglas FirDouglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii
Pinaceae – Pine, fir family.

“Pseudotsuga” is derived from “pseudo” (false) and “tsuga” (the Japanese name for hemlock). “Menziesii” is derived from the name of the naval surgeon and naturalist with the expedition of captain George Vancouver, Archibald Menzies (1754-1842). The common name honors the famous Scottish botanist and explorer David Douglas (1799-1834). Despite the common name, the tree is not a true fir of the genus Abies.

Old growth Douglas fir giants may live for over a thousand years and may top 300 feet. The lofty boughs of Douglas-fir are frequently too high for identification, but the thick, fissured, and corky bark is immediately recognizable. If there is still any doubt, the triple pointed bracts of the fallen cones look like so many mice diving for cover! Douglas-fir bark and wood were important sources of firewood for the Northwestern Native peoples. Pitch-saturated boughs were used for torches. Harpoon shafts, spears, net handles, and other implements were crafted from the wood. Some tribes used pitch as medicine by applying it to sores. (Turpentine, derived from the pitch of various conifers, has been historically used as a disinfectant and medicinal in Western medicine). The pitch, needles, or bark of young roots were sometimes boiled and the infusion drunk as a cold tonic. Bud tips, perhaps like lozenges, were chewed for sore throat. The small winged seeds are food for Douglas squirrel, chipmunks, mice, and many birds. Black bears are well-known to strip bark off young trees in order to dine on the soft and nutritious cambium layer (5-27).

Douglas Fir

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Duckfoot

Duckfoot

Duckfoot, Vancouveria hexandra
Berberidaceae – Oregon grape family

“Vancouveria” is derived from the name of the 18th century Pacific Northwest explorer Capt. George Vancouver (1758-1798). The flowers are six (“hex”) parted, with swept-back sepals and petals exposing the stamens, earning the name “inside-out-flower.” The leaflets are as fanciful as the flowers and resemble ducks’ feet.

The inside-out flower has underground stems (rhizomes) that send up compound leaves divided into leaflets of three. The leaflets fancifully resemble ducks’ feet. Despite the fragile appearance of the thin leaflets and petioles, the inside-out flower is a common herb carpeting the forest floor, along with relatives Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa) and vanilla leaf (Achlys triphylla, also known as “deerfoot,” rare in Springbrook Park). This plant is best appreciated up close. In spring, panicles of yellow or white flowers bob in the forest breeze. The six swept-back sepals and petals expose the six stamens and central pistil, thus resembling a shooting star (or inside out flower). Although Native people apparently had little practical use for this deciduous herb, inside-out flower today serves as a curious and delightful ground cover in the shaded reaches of a natural garden.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photo by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

English Ivy


English Ivy

English Ivy, Hedera helix
Araliaceae – Ginseng family

The generic name is derived from the Latin term for ivy. “Helix” is Greek for “spiral” describing the growth habit of the vine.

The appealing nature of ivy has resulted in many cultivars widely used as groundcovers and ornamental vines. However, in the woodland environment ivy has a dark side as the vine progressively smothers acre upon acre of native flowers and shrubs including salal, duckfoot, and trillium. Even plants perched up on stumps are in mortal danger as the vines readily creep up trees and stumps, rooting along the stem to strangle red huckleberry, wood fern, and other native dwellers. When stems climb off the ground, they flower and produce clusters of shiny black berries. The berries are poisonous to humans, but birds find them quite edible. Thus ivy is widely dispersed in suburban woods and neighborhoods by birds.

Here’s a link for more information on how to eradicate this non-native, invasive plant
https://weedwise.conservationdistrict.org/hehe

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Fringe Cup

Fringecup

Fringecup, Tellima grandiflora
Saxifragaceae — Saxifrage family.

“Tellima” is an anagram (rearrangement) of “Mitella” (Bishop’s cap), a related genus. “Grandiflora,” meaning “large flowered” is perhaps a misnomer, for the flowers are not large but about 6 to 8 mm across. Perhaps it is the imaginative design of the flowers that is grand. The sepals are fused into a cupped calyx with a fringe of five lacy petals perfectly reflecting the common name of “fringecup.”

The fringecup has a rosette of basal leaves around a short central stem from which tall flower spikes unfurl in spring. This characteristic growth habit is also common to fringecup’s related woodland neighbors—the pig-a-back plant, the foamflower or coolwort, and alumroot or heuchera. Precise identification is made much easier if the flowers are present for these are quite distinctive. The perennial fringecup thrives in moist woods in areas not quite as wet as preferred by pig-a-back plant. The vertical flower spike unfurls in spring and summer, with the greenish-white flowers taking on a pinkish glow as they mature. Flowers turn into seed-filled capsules shaped like a miter (Bishop’s cap). By summer and fall the dried seed capsules have waved to and fro with the wind, dutifully spilling the tiny seeds for another generation of fringecups. Erna Gunther reports that the Skagit pounded and boiled the plant, then drank the tea as a cure for various illnesses and to restore appetite.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Geum, Avens

Geum, AvensGeum, Avens, Large-Leaved Geum macrophyllum

Rosaceae – rose family.

The outermost lobe on the basal leaves (“phylum”) is large (“macro”) and lobulated. This is an unusual design to better catch sunlight in the woods when overlapped by smaller leaves, and inspires both the common and specific names. The shredded root of a Mediterranean species was used to impart a relish (“geyo” in Greek), explaining the origin of the generic name.

In the spring, the burgeoning and overlapping basal leaves of large-leaved avens (geum) resemble those of the related strawberry. But the plant is more distinctive when one or more tall stems arise, bearing bright yellow flowers of five petals. By the summer dry season, the expended flowers are replaced by balls of hooked seeds awaiting transport by animal fur, trousers, and shoe laces.

The leaves of this woodland perennial were used in Native medicine as an astringent to dry up boils and open cuts.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Hazelnut/Filbert

Hazelnut/Filbert, Corylus cornuta

Betulaceae –  Birch and alder family

“Corylus” is derived from “korys,” Greek for helmet; “cornuta” means “horned.” Together the generic and specific names aptly describe the helmet-like calyx surrounding the edible nut.

This tall deciduous shrub or small tree has long main stems, and velvety ovoid leaves with pointed tips and double-toothed margins. The European filbert of Willamette Valley orchards is a close, and nearly identical, relative to our native hazelnut. Hazelnuts and filberts are festooned with yellow male catkins in February, heralding the allergy season for many pollen sufferers. The inconspicuous female flowers look like small green buds with several bright red pistils.

The hazelnut has co-evolved with the squirrels, jays, and other creatures that energetically compete for the rich nuts. Hazelnut seedlings are dispersed through forest, fields, and backyards, by jays that lose their grip on the smooth shell, and Douglas squirrels that forget where they have buried their booty. Native inhabitants of the Northwest ate the nuts fresh or stored them for winter use. The long twigs were used as ties or twisted into rope by some tribes (5-40).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn. 
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Herb Robert

Herb Robert

Herb Robert, Geranium robertianum
Geraniaceae – geranium family.

The pointed seed pod of true geraniums resemble the bill of a crane (“geranos,” Greek for crane), thereby giving rise to the common and generic names. There are more than several “wild geraniums,” introduced and native, but Herb Robert of recent introduction from Europe, has become discomfortingly common in some native woodland settings. “Robert” may refer to the reddish (“ruber” in Latin) to violet flowers, or to Robert, Duke of Normandy.

The attractive foliage and flowers of Herb Robert are perhaps the reason the plant found its way to Oregon only several decades ago. Unfortunately for some native species, this geranium of about 12 inches in height grows rapidly and spreads readily by seeds. Herb Robert, as the name implies, has been used by herbalists for its reputed astringent and diuretic properties. Several other introduced and weedy geraniums are Carolina geranium (G. caolinianum), dovefoot geranium (G. molle), and cut-leaf geranium (G. dissectum). Like Herb Robert, they can be readily identified as true geraniums by the crane’s bill shape of the seed pod.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photo by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Holly

English HollyEnglish Holly

Holly, English, Ilex aquifolium

Aquifoliaceae – Holly family

This is an invasive species that needs to be eradicated in our area.

The holly leaves (“folium”) are pointed sharply like the talon of an eagle (“aquila”) and serve as the basis for both the family and specific names. The generic name is derived from the Latin name for the Mediterranean holly oak, Quercus ilex.

English holly is widely cultivated for its landscaping virtues. Since only female trees produce the bright red berries that make holly wreaths so attractive, male holly is often grafted onto a female plant to assure fertile berries. These berries are poisonous to humans, but not for birds who are responsible for seeding the holly widely in the woods and neighborhoods. Left unattended in the woods, hollies become gradually enlarging impenetrable thickets as the pendulous lower branches spread along the ground and take root.

Here’s a link for more information on how to eradicate this non-native, invasive plant https://weedwise.conservationdistrict.org/contact

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn. 
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Indian Plum

Indian PlumIndian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis

Rosaceae – Rose family

The newer generic name Oemleria derives from August Oemler, a European botanist. The white flower clusters are fragrant (“osme” Greek for “fragrance”), and are similar to those of the genus Aronia of the same family, thereby accounting for the earlier generic name Osmaronia. The bright orange to peach colored fruit resembles a cherry (“cerasiformis”) in having a fleshy outer pulp and a stony seed (drupe).

Indian plum is one of the first shrubs to break the bonds of winter dormancy. The bright green of unfolding foliage and clusters of fragrant white blossoms herald the coming of spring in February or March. Flowers are about a centimeter across, and female flowers develop into cherry-like drupes. The fruits display a range of colors- green, yellow, orange-red, and blue-black- as they reach maturity in summer. Birds are so fond of the fruit that the dark blue coloration is uncommonly observed in the wild. Indian plum is a graceful 5 to 15-foot shrub or small tree with multiple arching stems in semi-shaded woods. The two- to four-inch long oblong leaves turn yellow in autumn. As the common name implies the fresh or dried fruits were consumed by many Native groups (5-45).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Lady Fern

Lady Fern, Athyrium filix-femina

Polypodiaceae – Fern family

“Athyrium” means “without a shield” referring to the covering or more precisely the lack thereof, of the spore clusters. The delicate fronds (“filix” perhaps derived from the Latin tern for “thread”) may be considered dainty or lady-like (“femina”), giving rise to the hyphenated specific name.

With its relatively soft, fragile fronds, the lady fern is more demanding of moisture than the sword fern. The lady fern is found in favorably moist forest soil or along stream banks. In the spring, lady fern sends out a refreshing flush of delicate light green fronds several feet in length. The fronds taper at each end, a distinguishing feature when compared to fronds of other ferns. The fronds are deciduous, sometimes withering away by summer’s drought. The stem rests through the winter to begin the cycle anew in spring. Erna Gunther relates that several Northwest Native groups used the peeled and roasted stems for food. The soft fronds were used to cover camas during baking, a tea made from boiled stems was drunk to “ease body pains,” and pounded and boiled stems were used to ease the pain of childbirth (5-32).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Licorice Fern

Licorice Fern

Licorice Fern

Licorice Fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza
Polypodiaceae – Fern family

The branched stem or rhizome of the licorice fern look like so many (“poly”) feet (“podium”), thus explaining the generic name. The specific name refers to the sweet (“glycyr”) licorice smell of the rhizome (“rhiza”).

Moss-covered branches and trunks, particularly of big leaf maple, provide habitat suitable for licorice fern to thrive in Northwest woods. The medium green, pinnate leaves are up to a foot in length, and persist throughout winter. The licorice fern has adapted well to the warm and dry Northwest summers and wet and cool winters. Its leaves wilt and shrivel to a pale green in the heat of summer when water is sparse, but turn lush with the cool rains of fall. This survival strategy takes advantage of both increased water and sometimes increased sunlight, during the colder months – a time when the heavy forest canopy of summer has considerably thinned with the fall of deciduous leaves. Other plants have also adapted this strategy of dry season dormancy to our Northwest climate, including the water absorbent carpet of moss that is most often associated with the licorice fern. The rhizome of licorice fern was used sparingly for food and flavoring by Native peoples, for eaten in quantity, it reportedly has a laxative effect. The rhizome was also used as a remedy from cough (5-33).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Low Oregon Grape

Low Oregon Grape

Low Oregon Grape, Mahonia nervosa
Berberidaceae – Barberry family

“Berberis” is derived from the Arabic name for one or more species in the Mediterranean area. The alternate generic name, “Mahonia” honors Bernard McMahon, a nineteenth century American horticulturalist. The elongated compound leaves of low Oregon Grape have 9 to 19 leaflets, with prominent veins. “Nervosa” probably refers to this prominent pattern of venation.

The Oregon state flower is the tall Oregon grape, Berberis aquifolium, with holly-like leaves (Latin for “holly” is “aquifolium”). Its tolerance for sun and heat make it a useful denizen in parking lot landscapes and other open areas. In contrast, the low (also cascade or mountain) Oregon grape forms an evergreen groundcover, of several inches to two feet in height, in the moderate to deep shade of a woodland. The leaves are dark green, glossy, and have small sharp spines along the margins. Older plants grow like palm trees, with foliage arising from the top of a vertical stem marked by leaf scars. The yellow flowers are borne on long stalks, maturing into resolutely sour, blue fruits by fall. Not surprisingly, Erna Gunther notes that many Native groups regard the berries as too dry and sour to be good. However the bright yellow roots when boiled still have wide use as a source of yellow dye for basketry and mats. A tea made from boiled root was used as a general tonic, or to cure coughs by some Native groups (5-58).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray Ocean Spray

Ocean Spray, Holodiscus discolor
Rosaceae— Rose family

“Holodiscus” refers to the whole (non-lobed) floral disc, the latter being an enlargement of the stem around the base of the female flower part (pistil). The specific name may refer to the off-white creamy color of fresh blooms, or the bedraggled brown of spent blooms. The common names are picturesque descriptions of the plant in full bloom.

Ocean-spray prefers sunnier and drier woodland settings where it forms a cluster of stems up to 10 feet high. The somewhat triangular alternate leaves are light green with prominently lobulated margins. By midsummer, the long stems are gracefully pendent with plumes of creamy flowers. Ocean-spray, once established, can thrive in sunny areas prone to summer drought. Native peoples knew the value of the wood for tools and utensils including spears, digging sticks, and arrowshafts. (“Arrowwood” and “ironwood” are colloquial names.) Reported medicinal uses include using bark for a tonic, flowers for diarrhea cure, leaves for soothing sore lips or feet, and boiled seed clusters to treat various contagious diseases. A related plant with creamy plumes of flowers is goatsbeard (Aruncus sylvester), distinguished from ocean-spray by lack of woody stems, leaves that are divided into sharply toothed leaflets like those of baneberry, and preference for a more moist and shaded environment (5-57).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Oregon Ash

Oregon AshOregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia

Oleaceae – Olive family

“Fraxinus” is the Latin name for the ash tree, derived from the Greek “phraxo” (to split) referring to the character of the hard wood. The specific name may have been derived from the appearance of the leaves or leaflets (“folia”) that are relatively broad (“latis”). The common name is derived from Old English “aesc.” Oregon ash is unrelated to the mountain ash, a member of the rose family.

Oregon Ash is a straight growing deciduous hardwood tree attaining heights of 60 to 100 feet in wet soils near streams, swamps, and seeps. The opposite leaves are 6 to 12 inches long, and are divided into five to seven oblong leaflets in opposite pairs. The light green leaves turn to a bright yellow in fall. Oregon ash trees are of separate sexes (dioecious). The female trees are recognized by the clusters of tan, single-winged samaras shaped like canoe paddles. The winged samaras are dispersed by floating with currents of wind or water. The bark has distinctive vertical ridges with a woven appearance.

The young, wide-ringed wood of the Oregon ash is resilient and is as favored for tool handles as that of the eastern ash. Some Native groups used the wood for canoe paddles and digging sticks. The boiled bark was reported by Erna Gunther to be a treatment for worms when the infusion was drunk (5-8).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn. Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Pacific Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry

Pacific BlackberryPacific BlackberryPacific Blackberry, Trailing Blackberry, Rubus ursinus

Rosaceae –Rose family

The generic name means “red.” The specific name refers to the bear (“ursinus”), and has to do with the widespread northern distribution of this species across North America under the northern constellation “Ursa” major.

The alternative common name of “trailing blackberry” appropriately describes the low, rambling nature of the slender vine-like stems. The leaves are thrice-parted and the thorns small and slender.

The berries are thought by many Northwesterners to have the finest flavor of all native fruits. Native cultures have used the fresh and dried berries as food and the leaves and vine for a tea.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn. 
Photos and illustrations by Michelle Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Pacific Ninebark

Pacific NinebarkPacific Ninebark
Pacific Ninebark, Physocarpus capitatus

Rosaceae – Rose family

“Physocarpus” is derived from the Greek words for bladder (“physa”) and fruit (“karpon”) referring to the dry, bladder-like capsule of generally three seeds. “Capitatus” refers to the capitate or head-like clusters of rounded five-petaled white flowers each containing 20 or more brilliant pink stamens. The mature bark of this 6 to 12 foot shrub or small tree peels into many layers giving rise to the common name of “ninebark.”

Ninebark is a graceful shrub or small tree with upright but arching dark brown stems. The medium to light green leaves are multi-lobed, serrated, and like those of the maple, are aesthetic in form. Ninebark spreads primarily by seeds, and also by rooting stems. The peeled young shoots were used as an emetic by some Native groups who apparently had little other use for ninebark. Today, the white flower heads, handsome leaves, and graceful habit of this small tree are reasons enough to find Ninebark a niche in the natural garden (5-54).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Pacific Waterleaf

Pacific Waterleaf
Pacific Waterleaf
Pacific Waterleaf, Hydrophyllum tenuipes
Hydrophyllaceae – Waterleaf family

The generic name is the Latin version of “water” (“hydro”) and “leaf” (“phylum”), and may refer to the moist conditions required by some species or to the wetness of the stems when broken. The specific name in Latin means “thin” (“tenuis”) and “foot” (“pes”), perhaps referring to the tall and erect growth of Pacific waterleaf compared to other species in this genus.

The sharply divided palmate leaves arise from rhizomes in spring. In favorable moist woodland areas, waterleaf can grow up to three feet high and may blanket the forest floor. The stems, foliage, and sepals have thin, protective bristles. The flowers occur in clusters and have whitish petals. The stamens of this genus extend noticeably beyond the petals and give the flower heads a bristly appearance. By summer’s drought, the light green luxuriant blanket of waterleaf foliage has withered away, only to reappear the following spring. At least one Native group used the root for food. Woods nemophila (Nemophila parviflora) is a diminutive member of the waterleaf family, an annual herb with small whitish flowers and creeping stems, inconspicuous on the forest floor (5-81).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Red Alder

Red AlderRed Alder, Alnus rubra
Betulaceae – Birch family

The scientific name is simply the Latin term for “alder” and “red.” The red coloration is not readily apparent until the inner bark and sapwood are exposed. The buds also become reddish in late winter. The common name “alder” is derived from Old English “alor,” in turn derived from the Latin term “alnus.”

Red alder readily colonizes disturbed ground. The exceptionally light seeds (about 700 thousand per pound) are carried miles by wind. Red alder and big leaf maple grow very quickly, and are frequently the dominant trees in the first 30 to 80 years of a young forest before the conifers over-top aging deciduous trees. A mutually beneficial (symbiotic) relationship between nitrogen-fixing bacteria and the roots of red alder enriches the soil. Red alder has 70 to 100 foot upright trunks with smooth gray bark aesthetically splotched with various shades of lichen. The leaves are ovate and saw-toothed (doubly serrate). The male flowers or catkins disperse pollen in the spring, and by fall the female flowers have developed into woody pine cone-like structures that release countless tiny seeds to the wind.

Red alder is becoming increasingly popular furniture wood, providing some relief for dwindling resources of tropical hardwoods. The woodworking virtue of red alder was widely known by Northwest peoples. Dishes, spoons, platters, canoe paddles, and cradles are some items crafted from alder wood. It is a good source of firewood and is preferred for smoking salmon. The inner bark yields a reddish-brown dye that made nets invisible to fish. Erna Gunther reports that at least one Native group drank tea from boiled red alder bark for relief of colds, stomach troubles, and sores. A relative of red alder, paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is sometimes found scattered in the woods. These birch trees are probably the result of naturalized seedlings from the suburban landscape since paper birch is normally native east of the Oregon Cascades (5-5).

 

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Red Current

Red Current

Red-flowering Currant, Ribes sanguineum
Grossulariaceae – Currant and gooseberry family

The genus takes its name from the Arabic name “ribas” for a rhubarb-like plant Reheum ribes. The racemes of red flowering currant may be blood red (“sanguineum”), but are usually of a more subdued shade. Currants and gooseberries are in the same genus, and are distinguished by the presence of thorns on gooseberries but not currants.

The thought of currants and gooseberries evokes images of a well-tended English garden with Peter Rabbit up to some mischievousness between tidy hedges. Yet Ribes is primarily of North American and Andean distribution. Our native red-flowering currant became a garden favorite in Europe upon its introduction by David Douglas in 1826. More than a century and a half later this beautiful and tame shrub, described by eminent botanist Lewis Clark as “one of the finest of all ornamental shrubs,” is still underappreciated here, its place of origin. Prior efforts to control the white pine blister rust, an introduced fungus with alternate life cycles between Ribes and commercial pines, led to the attempted eradication and perhaps undeservedly tarnished reputation of Ribes. Red-flowering currant has many upright stems three to ten feet high, with thin brown bark and alternate, deciduous leaves of three to five lobes. The flowers are borne in showy, pendulous racemes in spring, and develop into bluish-black berries that are palatable for birds but are not very palatable for humans (5-23).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Red Elderberry

Red Elderberry

Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa
Caprifoliaceae – Honeysuckle family

Red ElderberryThe generic name is Latin for “elderberry.” The specific name refers to the raceme-like (actually a compound cyme) clusters of small, cream-colored flowers.

Like the blue elderberry, the red species is also a tall shrub or small tree. The two species are uniquely adapted to different types of habitats, are rarely found adjacent to each one another. Red elderberry is better adapted to shaded and moist sites, whereas blue elderberry tends to have fewer leaflets (five) that are generally broader and larger than those of the blue elderberry. Of course the most striking difference is in the color of the fruit, bright red versus powder blue. Red and blue elderberry were used in similar ways by Native people for food and medicinal purposes (5-29).

The elderberries (red more so than blue) are considered mildly toxic when eaten in large quantity, but cooking seems to improve palatability. Many Northwest Native groups consumed blue elderberries, occasionally fresh, but frequently steamed using hot rocks. Traditional medicinal uses included applying the pounded leaves to relieve abscess or joint swelling, and using a tea made from bark as an emetic or cure for diarrhea (5-28).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Red Osier Dogwood

Red Osier DogwoodRed Osier Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera

Cornaceae – Dogwood family

The interesting origins of the generic name “Cornus” and the common name “dogwood” are explained in the section on pacific dogwood. The adjectives “creek” and “red osier” of the common name accurately describe the wet or damp soil conditions preferred by this dogwood, and the willow-like (“osier” of French origin) stems that turn bright red in winter. The tendency for prostrate stems (stolons) to sprout roots enables the creek dogwood to have a spreading, sometimes thicket-like habit of growth, and is the origin of the specific name “stolonifera.”

The Red Osier dogwood has opposite, ovate leaves, and clusters of tiny four-petaled flowers like its cousin the Pacific dogwood. However, the Red Osier dogwood lacks the large, showy, petal-like bracts of the Pacific dogwood. The landscaping virtues of this native dogwood are most striking in late fall and winter, when clusters of white berries contrast aesthetically with smooth and naked stems of red. A vintage winter scene will have fresh-fallen snow as the backdrop of white for the red-osier stems.

In wet areas, Red Osier dogwood is a rapid grower reaching 6 to 12 feet within a few years. Birds find the fruit attractive, and seem quite successful in dispersing the seeds around neighborhoods and wet areas. Although bitter, the berries were used as food by certain Native groups. The flexible stems were used to make racks, bows, and baskets. Bark fibers were processed into cordage for tying (5-25).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Salal

Salal with berries

Salal, Gaultheria shallon
Ericaceae – Rhododendron and blueberry family

Salal“Gaultheria” is derived from the name of the Quebec physician and naturalist Jean Gaultier (1708-1756). “Shallon” is the Latinized form of the Native “salal” or “shalal.”

This robust evergreen shrub has young growth of light green foliage and pinkish stems set upon a background of lustrous dark green foliage. The ovoid leaves are leathery and shiny with a pointed tip and fine serrations. The flowers are urn-shaped lanterns that transform into juicy black-purple berries up to one centimeter in diameter during summer and fall. The berries were eaten fresh, or dried, mashed, and compressed into loaves weighing up to 10-15 pounds for winter use by the lower Chinookan people. Large leaves were used to line cooking pits. Chewed leaves were used on burns and sores, making use of the astringent property of tannic acid. Other Native groups used the leaves either chewed or as a tea for relief of heartburn, colic, or diarrhea. The Makah smoked a dried and pulverized mixture of salal and kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) leaves. Explorer and botanist David Douglas was so impressed with salal in 1825 that he sent seeds to England for cultivation. Although salal created a sensation it never became the premier berry plant that Douglas had envisioned for Europe. In the Pacific Northwest however, salal is a very valuable landscaping shrub for its lustrous and evergreen texture. It is drought resistant when established and provides excellent habitat and food for wildlife (5-66).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura and Michelle Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Salmonberry

Salmonberry

SalmonberrySalmonberry, Rubus spectabilis

Rosaceae – Rose family

There are at least two explanations for the common name and both appear to have merit. The tender green shoots of salmonberry were cooked by Native people and eaten with salmon. The ripe berries are variable in color, often bright orange-yellow but also red to salmon in color. The generic name means “red.” The five bright red-pink petals of salmonberry blossoms are an early spring-time spectacle (“spectabilis”) against the background of burgeoning green foliage.

Salmonberry prefers wetter areas such as along streambanks, near seeps, and in the mist of waterfalls. In winter, the leafless tan stems stand forlornly, the older stems bare and younger stems thorned. But when spring arrives, the stems burst forth with a flourish of leaves and blossoms. Each leaf is divided into three leaflets that in turn are lobed with toothed margins. Through spring and summer the showy pink-red blossoms transform into succulent orange-yellow berries. The berries were eaten fresh by Native people, but were considered too soft for drying. Salmonberry spreads in a raspberry-like manner by underground stems (5-67).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Snowberry

SnowberrySnowberry, Symphoricarpos albus

Caprifoliaceae – Honeysuckle, elderberry family

The scientific name for snowberry is apt- the white (albus) fruit (carpos) are distinctly clustered together (sympho).

This three to six foot shrub is perhaps most attractive when the leaves drop in fall to expose ornamental clusters of white berries pendent on twigs. The one to two inch leaves are thin, opposite, and may be quite variable in shape. Leaves may be ovoid or lobed. The small pink flowers have five petals that unite to form a tube in typical honeysuckle fashion. Although largely avoided as a food source, some Northwest Native peoples used the berries as soap for washing hair, or as an emetic. The leaves were sometimes used as a poultice for cuts or boiled as a cure for colds. During the winter, the clusters of berries become food for birds and dainty ornaments in the natural garden (5-72).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Sword Fern

Sword Fern

Sword Fern, Polystichum munitum
Polypodiaceae – Fern family

The many (“poly”) rows (“stichum”) of spore clusters give the genus its name. The specific name is derived from the sword-like (linear-lanceolate) leaves that are divided into rows of tooth-like leaflets (pinnae) suggesting an armament (“munitum”) of teeth.

In the forest, sword ferns form lush evergreen clumps of arching, two or four foot fronds. A luxuriant quality is imparted by the bright green of unfurling younger fronds contrasted against the deep green of mature fronds. Sword fern spores germinate readily on damp, mossy soil. Thus sword ferns root in forest soil in contrast to licorice ferns that frequently perch on moss-covered big leaf maple trunks, or wood ferns that usually root on well-rotted logs and stumps. Various Northwest Native groups peeled and baked or boiled the stems for food. They also used the leaves to line pits for baking or steaming of camas bulbs, wapato, and other vegetables. The fronds were used as a non-sticking surface for drying and when bundled, they served as mattresses. Despite their lush appearance, sword ferns are relatively tolerant of drought and can be mixed with salal in partially shaded areas to form a perfectly natural green (5-34).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Thimbleberry

Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus

Thimbleberry, Rubus parviflorus
Rosaceae – Rose family

“Rubus” is the Latin name for blackberry and is likely derived from the red (“rubus”) color of both immature fruit (blackberries are red before they turn black) and mature fruit (such as the bright red of ripe thimbleberry and raspberry) of this genus. The flowers occur in loose clusters of four to eight and have five white petals around the central stamens and pistils. Compared to the denser flower clusters of related species, those of thimbleberry may seem relatively sparse (“parvi”) of flowers (“florus”), thereby explaining the specific name.

Thimbleberry stands erect to a height of three to seven feet in sunnier locations of the forest, proudly displaying its broad, light green palmate leaves. Thimbleberry plants like other raspberries spread by underground stems, and may form a small thicket in favorable conditions.

The lack of thorns and sweet red berries encouraged widespread harvesting among Northwest Native groups. The berries could be eaten fresh, or dried and stored. In early spring, the young sprouts were consumed as vegetable greens. The broad leaves were used as a wrap for cooked berries. Thimbleberry had other diverse uses, such as using boiled bark for soap, powdered dry leaves to prevent burns from forming scars, and leaves for a tea to treat anemia.

 


Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park, Lake Oswego, OR

Photo by Laura Tanz
Illustrated by Michelle Tanz
This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Trillium

Trillium, Trillium ovatum
Liliaceae – Lily family

The leaves and petals are arranged as triplets (“tri” meaning three) in this genus. A single stalk supports the trio of ovoid (“ovatum”) leaves that taper to a drip point to shed excess water.

Above the triplet of leaves rises the prominent white, three-petal flower with six yellow stamens. The long-lasting flowers gradually turn pink and then red-purple. When the petals at last are shriveled, the three-parted ovary has matured into a plump, ridged seed capsule that splits open upon maturity. Attached to each brown seed is a morsel of food for ants, enticing them to carry the seeds to their burrows. The ingenious method of plant dispersal is an example of mutually beneficial partnerships between the plants and animals in nature.

The broad leaves persist through summer, using the dim filtered light of the forest floor to store food in the underground bulb for next season’s bloom.

Perhaps because the sight of early spring trillium blossoms is enchanting, at least one Native group uses the pounded bulbs a “love medicine.” In another Native group, a woman who wishes a man for a lover drops a cooked trillium bulb into his food. Far less romantically, several other Native groups use the juice of the bulb as an eye medication, and the scrapings of the bulb to bring a boil to a head.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photo by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park, Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora and tagged .

Vine Maple

Vine Maple

 

Vine Maple, Acer circinatum
Aceraceae – Maple family

The Latin name for maple is “acer.” The seven to nine lobed leaves are relatively circular (circinatum). The common name is descriptive, for in the shaded forest, the greenish branches of vine maple are frequently prostrate, vine-like on the forest floor.

In sunnier locales, the vine maple grows upright as a graceful small to medium, multi-stemmed tree with light green and attractive foliage. In autumn, the leaves often turn to the celebrated orange and red hues of fall color. The vine maple seeds are winged and paired like big leaf maple seeds, but form a more open angle, unlike the U-shape of paired big leaf maple seeds.

Vine maple is also distinguished by its ability to root from the stems, an adaptation to the prostrate habit of its branches on the shaded forest floor. The long, flexible stems were used for weaving openwork baskets, thus earning the name of “basket tree” by the Quinault people. The resilient stems were also used for fish traps, bows, arrows, and implement handles by various Native groups (5-51).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park, Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Western Hemlock

Western Hemlock, Tsuga heterophylla
Pinaceae – fir, pine family.
Western Hemlock

“Tsuga” is derived from the Japanese name for hemlock. The leaves (needles, or “phylla”) of varying (“hetero”) lengths tend to be longer when horizontally positioned on a branchlet, and shorter when positioned vertically.

A high tolerance for shade and the virtue of perseverance enable western hemlock over many hundreds of years to dominate over taller and faster growing trees like Douglas-Fir in an old growth forest. The difference in shade tolerance among species explains why Hemlock seedlings are more frequent on nurse logs in the deeper shade of an old growth forest, while Douglas Fir seedlings are more frequent in openings created by fire, wind, or logging. The blunted needles are ¼ to ¾” long and whitened beneath. The small and papery cones are usually borne at the end of twigs and branchlets. The western hemlock has an elegant appearance with its fine needles gracefully drooping top shoot, and gently lowering branches. The bark of the western hemlock when made into a medicinal tea by various Northwest Native groups was used as a laxative, a wash for sore eyes or for skin sores, a remedy for sore throat, and to control hemorrhage. The pitch was used as a chest rub for children’s colds, to prevent chapping and sunburn, and as face paint when mixed with ground bark. The inner bark when boiled and pounded made a reddish paint for use on baskets, spears, and paddles. The dye also made nets invisible to fish. The wood was a good source of fire wood. The very versatile western hemlock also provided multi-branched boughs for fish traps and weirs.
Western Hemlock
Western Hemlock

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

Western Red Cedar

Western Red CedarWestern Red Cedar, Thuja plicata

Cupressaceae – Juniper family

The Greek name for juniper is “thuja.” “Plicata” indicates the plaited appearance of the shoots. Despite its name, this tree is not a true cedar of the Old World genus Cedrus.

Western red cedar thrives in soggy ground that would suffocate the roots of Douglas fir and Hemlock. Stately red cedar trees are more commonly found along riverbanks, in moist bottomlands, and near seeps. Old growth trees can top 200 feet and be over 10 feet thick at the base during their 1000-year life span. The distinctive trunk is broad for support at the base, but tapers gracefully upwards, accentuated by long strips of red-brown bark. The drooping, flattened branchlets are covered with scale-like leaves. The leaves have a sweet aromatic smell when crushed. Small ovoid cones contain about six pairs of scales each bearing two to three light winged seeds.

Western red cedar was the tree of greatest utility to Native peoples of the Northwest. The wood splits cleanly into planks used for fishing platforms, walls, roofs, and partitions of plank houses. Perhaps the most impressive canoes in the world are those honed from western red cedar logs. Bark fibers were tightly woven into platters, baskets, mats and rain hats. The soft finely shredded bark fibers were used as towels or to line cradles. Longer fibers were woven into fishnets and sew to make skirts and capes. The red cedar buds or leaf tips were used by some Native groups for toothache when chewed, as a gargle, or as a cough remedy when boiled (5-83).

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR 

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.

Wild Ginger

Wild Ginger, Asarum caudatum

Aristolochiaceae – Birthwort family

This peculiar plant is in a separate family from true ginger (Zingiber officianale), but like its tropical namesake, wild ginger possesses the fresh, spicy taste and fragrance. The generic name is of Greek origin for an Old World species. The distinctively long, tail-like (“cauda”) sepals engenders the specific name.

Wild ginger is found in moist and shaded parts of the woodland. The broad, thickly textured leaves are heart-shaped and suited to collect the limited amount of filtered sunlight reaching the forest floor. The dark green leaves are raised a few inches above the ground, sheltering the branching, prostrate stem and exotically formed flowers. The flower has no petals to speak of, but instead has long, partially fused sepals of brown-purple coloration. The unusual flowers have probably evolved to attract denizens of the humus layer that play the role of pollinators. Erna Gunther reported that one Native group made use of dried leaves to treat tuberculosis, while eating the leaves improved appetite, and boiling the plant produced a tonic.

Information courtesy of “The View From Springbrook Park; an Illustrated Natural History” by Ed Chinn.
Photos taken by Laura Tanz
Sponsored by Friends of Springbrook Park; Lake Oswego, OR

This entry was posted on April 7, 2020, in Flora.