Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Wallace W Hansen Northwest Native Plant Journal
Northwest Native Plant Newsletter and Journal, April - May 2001


  1. “To Do” List For Native Plants for Early Spring

  2. The Beautiful Fawn Lilies of the Northwest

  3. Wildlife Habitat Planning

  4. Best trees for Northwest Wildlife Habitats

  5. Best Shrubs For Northwest Wildlife Habits

  6. Calypso Bulbosa – Beautiful Northwest Orchid 

  7. (Can You Help Research Better Propagation & Growing Methods?)

  8. Personal Notes


1 – “To Do” List For Native Plants in April - May 2001

Watch carefully at least through the middle of May for those early “wet weather” leaf diseases and treat if serious. Native are pretty tough but watch Serviceberry, Madrones, Chokecherry, crabapple and Bitter Cherry.

Drought Preparation. A lot of you are worried about the possibility of a drought this year in the northwest. So far in March and April, rainfall has been normal. The problem is the lack of normal rain and snow in the winter and subsequent low water in storage both above and underground. Northwest native plants have adjusted over the millenniums to the dry season from late June through the middle of September. Trilliums and camas go dormant – Licorice Ferns go dormant – native plants survive!! When native plants are established, they survive without summer irrigation. However, I always recommend some summer water for two years after planting out natives so the roots will go deep, quickly. (Note that Christmas tree growers do not supply summer water, even for newly planted seedlings!) The problem then becomes the possibility of restricted irrigation water in the mid to late summer. Go ahead and plant your natives this spring. But this year, use a maximum amount of mulch. I would like to see 2 or 3 inches of bark dust or wood chips or whatever, around every plant. For detailed drought tips, go to my site www.nwplants\information\landscaping\index.html.

2 – The Beautiful Fawn Lilies Of The Northwest

Erythronium oregonum, our beautiful northwest Fawn Lily, is in full bloom here in my gardens. The blooming period is very short. This lily is also called Trout Lily, Glacier Lily and Adder’s tongue. It is about 10 – 12” tall and has a tiny bulb. This lily likes some sunshine and humus soil. Petals are white, with yellow tones. You can grow Fawn Lilies from seed but you have to wait several years before they will bloom. The leaves have a unique mottled pattern.

There is another fine Fawn Lily, the Pink Fawn Lily. I hope to grow this plant next year. It is similar to the Fawn Lily above, but all pink.

3 – Creating A Wildlife Habitat

You can create a wonderful native plant garden and, at the same time, create a fine wildlife habitat, large or small. The lowland corridor from the Canadian border, south throughout the Puget Sound country and Seattle to Portland and the Willamette Valley to Roseburg, Oregon, are all similar areas for plants, climate and wildlife. Wildlife includes mammals, birds, butterflies, insects, etc. Large habitats should have a frame of large evergreen and deciduous trees. For more modest projects, use shrubs, both deciduous and evergreen, with some perennials. Wildlife need food, water and shelter. You must solve the water need. The plants in the next sections show my choices for food and shelter in the western Washington and western Oregon corridor. Try to include species that form dense thickets such as hawthorne and native roses – protect the little “wildlife.” Study how tall each plant you select may grow so you fill in with food and shelter at different levels from the ground up. Always include Snowberry for winter food. Try to include at least one evergreen for winter color – don’t forget that Red Osier Dogwood will have very attractive bare winter red stems.

4 – Best Trees For Northwest Wildlife Habitats


Abies ssp – (True Firs) - (White Fir, Noble Fir, Grand Fir) Provide shelter for birds and mammals. Many birds eat the seeds including chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, crossbills, finches, sapsuckers and woodpeckers.

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense Cedar) Provides shelter for birds and mammals. Birds eating seeds include sparrows, thrushes, flickers, siskins and nutches.

Pinus ssp (Ponderosa, Shore, Lodgepole) Provides shelter. Seeds eaten by pigeons, quail, doves, finches, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees.

Pseudotsuga menziesii (Douglas Fir) Birds eat the seeds. Important nesting and shelter habitat for birds and squirrels.

Tsuga heterophylla (Western Hemlock) Seeds eaten by squirrels, chipmunks and birds in the winter. Deer and elk browse twigs.

Tsuga martensiana (Mountain Hemlock) (Smaller Tree) Seeds eaten by siskins, juncos, finches, crossbills, squirrels, chipmunks. Dense foliage provides protection.


Acer macrophyllum (Big Leaf Maple) Bark, rough areas support Licorice Ferns, Mosses and Lichens which in turn support wildlife. Seeds eaten by siskins, finches, crossbills, chickadees, juncos, chipmunks and squirrels. Also support beavers, deer and muskrats. Source of nectar for bees.

Alnus rubra (Red Alder) Many birds eat seeds, including mallards, grouse, widgeons, kinglets, vireos, warblers. Porcupine, hares, beavers, deer and elk eat leaves and twigs.

Fraxinus latifolia (Oregon Ash) Grouse, ducks, finches and other birds eat seeds. Deer and Elk eat leaves and twigs.

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple) (Smaller Tree) Birds eat seeds – good nectar source for bees. Smaller tree, also OK for smaller habitats.

Prunus emarginata (Bitter Cherry) (Smaller Tree) Forms thickets – ideal for protection of smaller birds and animals. Many birds eat fruit including pigeons, jays, bluebirds, robins, orioles, finches, doves. Fruit also liked by squirrels. bears, chipmunks. coyotes, raccoons. Several butterfly species associated with Bitter Cherry.

Crataegus douglasii (Black Hawthorne) “A Must For Every Habitat.” (Smaller Tree) Forms very tough, impenetrable thicket to protect small critters! Berries eaten by robins, solitaires, waxwings, thrushes, grosbecks, woodpeckers, pigeons, ducks, pheasants, , turkeys, foxes, bear and coyotes. Use this plant in every Wildlife Habitat.

Malus fusca (Western Crabapple) Smaller tree that eventually forms a dense thicket. Birds eat fruit, including grouse, waxwings, sapsuckers, woodpeckers, towhees, grosbeaks. Fruit also eaten by mammals.

5 - Best Shrubs For Northwest Wildlife Habits


Arctostaphylos columbiana (Hairy Manzanita) Fruit eaten by quail, grouse, raccoons, coyotes, squirrels, deer. Hummingbirds and bees extract nectar.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Kinnikinnik) Low ground cover. Birds like fruit including grouse, sparrows, pigeons. Bees like flowers.

Gaultheria shallon (Salal) Fruit eaten by pigeons, grouse, coyotes, bears.

Mahonia aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape) Fruit eaten by birds including pheasants, robins and juncos. Foxes and raccoons like the fruit. Bees and butterflies extract the nectar.

Mahonia nervosa (Cascade Oregon Grape) Low form of Mahonia for ground level fruit. Fruit eaten by grouse, pheasants, thrushes. Nectar extracted by butterflies.

Vacciniun ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry) Food for late summer and fall. Birds that like berries include pigeons, robins, towhees, sparrows. Mammals also like the berries including bears and raccoons.


Cornus sericea ssp. stolonifera (Red Twig Dogwood) Forms a thicket that offers excellent protection for wildlife. Berries eaten by warblers, robins, fly catchers, flickers, vireos, wood ducks, grouse, pigeons, quail, bear, elk, rabbits. Orange sulfur butterflies use nectar.

Oemleria cerasiformis (Indian Plum) Berries eaten by robins, waxwings, foxes, coyotes, bear and deer.

Ribes sanguineum (Red Flowering Currant) Berries eaten by robins, towhees, thrushes, waxwings, jays, sparrows, woodpeckers, foxes, coyotes, raccoons, mountain beavers, skunks, chipmunks, squirrels.

Rosa ssp (Native Roses, Nootka, Cluster, Bald Hip) Native Roses form dense thickets, perfect cover for many birds and mammals. Birds that eat rose hips include grouse, juncos, bluebirds. grosbeaks, pheasants, quail, thrushes. Mammals that eat rose hips include rabbits, chipmunks, porcupines, deer, elk, coyotes and bear.

Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry) Birds that eat berries include wrens, quail and finches. Mammals that eat the fruit include foxes, coyotes, bear.

Rubus spectabilis (Salmonberry) Birds that eat berries include wrens, quail, thrushes, robins, pheasants. Mammals eating the fruit include raccoons, squirrels, foxes, coyotes, bear. 

Visited by humming birds and bees.

Sambucus ssp. (Red and Blue Elderberry) Red berries are ripe in early summer and blue berries in the fall, giving a long period of food availability. Many mammals eat the fruit. Birds that eat the fruit include woodpeckers, grosbeaks, jays, tanagers, sparrows and thrushes. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies use the nectar.

Spirea douglasii (Douglas Spirea) Forms tight thickets – good shelter. Attracts butterflies.

Symphoricarpos albus (Snowberry) White berries persist into winter, providing winter food for birds including grouse, pheasants and quail – emergency food for many other birds. Hummingbirds and bees like the nectar.

Vaccinium spp.. (Red & Mountain Huckleberry) Berries eaten by doves, jays, orioles, sparrows. Hummingbirds and bees extract nectar.

Aquilegia formosa (Red Columbine) (Perennial) The favorite “native” for Hummingbirds! Sparrows & finches like seeds.

6 – Calypso bulbosa – Beautiful Northwest Orchid

The Fairy Slipper is now in bloom! This is a northern orchid that goes dormant in May and grows again with the first fall rains. This is a very tiny orchid with a single leaf. It grows in the shade in the top layer of moss and decayed needles and leaves. It has an onion-like bulb. This little sweetheart is very hard to grow. If you are an orchid expert who has had positive results researching and developing techniques for propagating and growing this plant, I'd love to know of your success. This plant is often decimated from its native habitats by overzealous collectors. Any way we can help promote the safety of our native orchids, the better.

On Taming The Fairy Slipper

From around the world in Northern Climes,

Alaska, Labrador, Norway – East and West

The little Orchid of the cool, damp Forests

Daughter of Aurora Borealis

When cool days and long nights return in the Fall

You send one leaf up from your summer sleep

And bravely hold your place till Spring.

Then, miracles and wonders! –

The beautiful exotic Fairy Slipper displays again

Her Royal Purple raiment, proof positive

Of Royal Heritage and superior Social Order.

Unseen tiny Woodland Fairies, dance attendance -

The Giant Firs and Spruce bow to her sovereignty.

For one month this beauty reigns

Then sinks below the moss

As warm days and short nights loom .

And I, in my humble nursery, vow to tame this

Wild Beauty and make her grow against her will.

In neat nursery rows, pampered, prime and proper,

but free no more!

And if I do, how will I feel? - perhaps

To free her once again before I sink below the moss.

7 - Personal Notes

From my window I see two huge Big Leaf Maples in a corner of my gardens. Over the past fortnight, every day the buds open more and more to finally form the large beautiful new maple leaves of these magnificent trees. I am amazed and humbled by this ancient ritual of mystery and beauty and renewal and growth and creation. Do you know that every cell in a leaf is like a miniaturized factory with thousands of intricately designed molecular machinery containing millions of atoms, without parallel in the non-living world? I am overwhelmed by the grandeur of a tree – of a plant – of a garden. Health and renewal and humility and joy are found in a garden! You do not have to look far!

E-mail comments are welcome. (Note from Jennifer: As did Wally, I also welcome your email comments!)

Good Luck!


Contact:  star@chillirose.com ~ Copyright 2011 © Wallace W. Hansen ~ All rights reserved