Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday -- Ocean spray

This month for Wildflower Wednesday I'm featuring a PNW native flowering shrub that has been flowering up a storm on hillsides and roadsides everywhere. It's called Ocean spray (Holodiscus discolor).

I see it when I go for walks in my neighborhood.

I see it when I drive to the grocery store.

And, although the Epping garden, which I visited while on Garden Bloggers' Fling this past weekend, had many interesting, beautiful and exotic plants, the Ocean spray that ringed the garden in all the wild places beyond the edge of the cultivated areas was the very first thing I noticed.

Ocean spray is one of those plants that is the first to reclaim devastated areas after a burn or forest clear-cut (along with Fireweed, another PNW native flower). It is often found as an understory shrub to large stands of Douglas fir.  The flowers have a faint scent and age to a chocolate brown.

The shrub grows throughout the Northwest and western parts of North America, from British Columbia to California and Arizona. It's a member of the rose family. The flowers attract swallowtail, azure, and Lorquin's admiral butterflies. It can be propagated from semi-hardwood cuttings, suckers and seeds and grows in either sun or part shade in moist but lean soil.

Native Americans used it in many ways -- the leaves, berries and flowers as medicine, the wood and bark for tools, furniture and weapons.

I have two specimens of this shrub growing in my newly established back garden. But the garden is too new and the plants too young to flower yet. Maybe next year.

Please check out Wildflower Wednesday, which is hosted by Gail of clay and limestone.


  1. I have not seen or heard of this shrub before, Alison. Thank you for introducing it to us.

  2. I've never seen or heard of this shrub either. It's so gorgeous! :)

  3. It looks just like it's name in the first photo, like a wave crashing on the beach. Amazing plant! Around here I have something similar (but not as dazzling) growing called Sorbaria Sorbifolia which has similar flowers, but not as abundant as this. What a statement it makes planted enmasse in your photos.

  4. I am so glad you posted on this beauty! it was lovely and caught my eye whilst I was looking at the view! I am so glad I got to meet you and see your wonderful PNW. gail

  5. A very lovely native, and so well named.

  6. What a gorgeous shrub! I'm not familiar with it, but I hope it's still in bloom in a few weeks when I visit my daughter in Oregon. I'll be sure to look for it.


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