Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Wallace W Hansen Northwest Native Plant Journal
Northwest Native Plant Newsletter and Journal, March 2002


1  – “To Do” List For Native Plants For Early Spring

2  – Mahonia – Beautiful Native Shrubs That Will Not Be Called “Berberis”

3  – Propagating Northwest Willows By Cuttings

4  – The Three Northwest Native Maples!

5  – About Trilliums – Again!

Help Wanted!

Personal Notes – Sanctuary!!

8 – Next Issue

Mahonia aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape)

1 – “To Do” List For Native Plants For Early Spring, 2002

A – While it is getting late, you can still do some pruning of trees and shrubs. Shrubs can be pruned hard to stimulate new growth and restore shape. Be careful with trees do not prune the leader by accident.

B – Clean up gardens, both large and small, early in the spring. Compost what you can. If some plants had disease in the stems or leaves, consider burning this trash. Especially in new or crowded native plant gardens, control disease by cleanliness.

C – If you have Incense Cedar (Calocedrus [Libocedrus]decurrens), spray once in March and again in April to prevent a disease that often shows up in a wet April. It seldom kills the Incense Cedar but it looks bad and weakens trees. The disease is called Broom Rust. It forms sticky orange blobs, almost over night, Use Bayleton as a preventive spray.

D – Bordeaux and Lime-Sulfur

If you have Native Crabapple (Pyrus [Malus] fusca), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) or Bitter Cherry (Prunus emarginata), I suggest you make one or two applications of one of two old fashioned fungicides – Bordeaux or Lime-Sulfur. Bordeaux is a mixture of copper sulfate and hydrated lime. It is rain-fast when sprayed on plants. Both are broad-spectrum fungicides and give protection against bacteria. Lime sulfur gives dormant season protection against insects and mites. You must apply before bud break.

E – Start mulching now to conserve water around plants for summer need. Mulching helps you grow better plants.

2 – Mahonia – Beautiful Native Shrubs That Will Not Be Called “Berberis”

The northwest is blessed with three species of Mahonia – (Oregon Grape) – Mahonia aquifolium, Mahonia nervosa and Mahonia repens. Each species has its own characteristics and uses. But first, let us resolve the botanical name. At first the genus was “Mahonia.” There is some important office somewhere that changed the genus name to “Berberis” and assumed that all would follow. But something went wrong and none of the folks that work with this wonderful plant accepted the new genus name. I never see the name “Berberis” any more except in old books.

Mahonia [Berberis] aquifolium (Tall Oregon Grape)
This superb evergreen shrub is the State flower of Oregon. Can get 10 feet tall, but usually 5 feet in gardens. Large clusters of small golden yellow flowers on shiny green, holly-like foliage in the spring. New growth is copper color in the spring. Blue fruits are tart - often used for jelly. Use for hedges, borders and drifts. Sun or shade. Drought tolerant. Perfect for northwest. Use in every northwest garden.

Mahonia [Berberis] nervosa (Cascade Oregon Grape)
Similar to Tall Oregon Grape, but longer leaves and a different form – 2 feet tall. Same beautiful flowers and fruit as Tall Oregon Grape. Widespread in open forest areas. Excellent ground cover. Likes part shade.

Mahonia [Berberis] repens (Creeping Oregon Grape)
Low growing, spreading evergreen ground cover (12 - 18"). Superior ground cover. Dull green leaves, yellow flowers, blue-purple edible fruits. Likes sun or shade. Recommended to cover large open areas. Drought resistant after established.

3 - Propagating Northwest Willows By Cuttings

I encourage you from time to time to propagate your own native plants from cuttings softwood, semi-hardwood and winter cuttings. If you hesitate, try willows, which are very easy to start from cuttings.

I grow six species of willows – Pacific, Arrowyo, Scoulers, Columbia River Gorge, Sitka and Hookers. These species are native to this part of the northwest – the Willamette Valley and north. There are hundreds of species/varieties throughout the USA and Canada. There are willows at the Arctic Circle. Sometimes they are very difficult to identify. Some are shrubs and some are trees. In general, willows like wet areas but some species can stand dry areas.

It is best to take cuttings in the mid winter but usually March is OK also. You can wrap in plastic and keep for a while in a refrigerator. You do not need to treat with rooting hormone. Collect young branches and keep in a moist plastic bag until processed. Make cuttings of 12” to as long as 6 ft. Remove extra branches and any leaves and insert in the ground, leaving six inches or more above ground, in the air. You must plant so the buds point upward. They will not survive if planted “upside-down.” If the ground is hard or rocky use an iron rod to make a hole and then insert the cutting so as not to tear the buds. Longer cuttings can be used to get down to lower levels for access to water. It is fun to work with cuttings. Try these easy cuttings first and move on from there. Most gardeners can recognize willows, even if the species is unknown. Observe carefully the conditions in which the mother tree is found. If you like the tree and it is OK to take the cuttings, go ahead! (Note – with water, willows grow very fast – 5 ft and more.)

4 – The Maples of The Northwest

The versatile maple genus, Acer, has over 100 members scattered across Asia and North America. Desired for breath-taking displays of color in the fall and resilient wood, the three native maples found in the rugged Pacific northwest afford both splendor and merit. Acer circinatum (vine maple) and Acer glabrum (Douglas Maple) are deciduous shrubs or small trees that present brilliant autumn shades of deep cherry reds and coppery oranges. Acer macrophyllum (Bigleaf Maple) is a deciduous tree that forms splendid large leaves within its tall, broad crown. During the long days of summer, the lush foliage provides welcomed relief from the heat. The hardy burls formed at the bottom of the Bigleaf Maple’s trunk are especially valued for their strength and attractive grain pattern. The maple genus is recognizable by their oppositely arranged leaves with few to many palmate lobes and dry, winged fruits called samaras.

Acer circinatum (Vine Maple)

A beautiful small, deciduous tree, essential for native gardens, sun or shade. Elegant form and texture, 10-15 ft. Brilliant red and orange fall colors. A natural under story plant for tall evergreens. Showy flowers early in the spring. Often multi-stemmed. Likes moisture - will tolerate summer drought after established. Will grow close to big evergreen trees such as Doug Fir.

Acer glabrum v. doug. (Douglas Maple)

Small tree to 30 ft. usually less. Similar to Vine Maple, often multi-stemmed. Native both sides of Cascades. Hardier than Vine Maple. Fine fall colors, orange, red, yellow. Consider this maple as half way between Vine Maple and Big Leaf Maple.

Acer macrophyllum ( Big-Leaf Maple)

A handsome, “family tree” maple. Can reach 100 ft. tall & 50 ft. wide. Massive, branching framework for moss, lichens and Licorice Ferns. Leaves 1 ft across, 3 – 5 lobe. Yellow fall color. Creamy yellow flowers in Spring. If this tree is cut close to the ground, it will re-sprout, usually with several stems. Use natives such as Salal, Oregon Grape & Sword Fern for under-story. Big Leaf Maple are so common in the northwest that you may not really appreciate the beauty and use of this magnificent tree. Wonderful along city streets, in parks, etc as well as private gardens. This tree grows fast and is very tough – found from Alaska to California and Eastward to Idaho.

5 –About Trilliums - Again! (July Newsletter, 2001)

My trilliums are up again – Easter is coming!! They have not bloomed yet but are a beautiful sight already! They will reach their peak of beauty around Easter. Trilliums are my lifelong favorite. As a depression kid in Washington State near the Canadian border way out in the country, we called trilliums, “Easter Lilies.” I loved those trilliums, along the damp, shady creek bottoms. I picked them for my Mother, who always was so thankful!

I have an ancient, huge dictionary belonging to my Grandfather, dated about 1900. I found a very fragile but complete dried Western Trillium, with rose tints, between the pages. Some shy country girl carefully placed it there about a hundred years ago – something of beauty – something of purity –which still touches the heart one hundred years later.

I rediscovered the magic of trilliums 11 years ago, here in Oregon. One day I was exploring a nearby deep gulch with a small stream. Growth was very dense and in late March, among the tall firs and the lower vine maples, my passage was nearly impossible. I struggled under and over and through the intricate vine maples. The dense overhead leaves created a twilight zone. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a flash of white ahead. Curious, I crawled toward this “white” object and suddenly came upon a huge Western Trillium – beautiful, perfect glossy green slightly mottled leaves and stunning white petals. Such a striking, beautiful symbol of Spring and Beauty and Renewal – a composite feeling of all that is good and worthwhile and joyful and eternal. To me, the trillium is the true Easter Lily for those of us in the northwest or even in the northern hemisphere (no trilliums in the southern hemisphere). These have been called the Trinity Lily, of special meaning to those of the Christian faith. But all faiths share in the joy of spring and renewal – the trillium is a universal symbol.

Some Thoughts On Trilliums - Wally


First to break free of Winter’s Grasp!

Awake from months of slumber

And hint at warmer days to come!


Three leaves, three petals, three sepals!

To those of Christian Faith - The Trinity Lily.

To all Faiths, a ritual of Spring Renewal !


For brief days, your pure white petals,

Glossy green leaves, delightful form,

Brighten and please and awaken!


Your prim, proper, starched white habits

Of some ancient forest order,

Soon give way to faded red,

A touch of bitter-sweet melancholy.


Plump , pregnant seed pods follow

For future generations - beauty and delight!

Live on, sweet Trillium! Live on Forever!

6 – Help Wanted

I need to hire part time assistance. I need help in research and writing some articles on different native plant species. This requires a computer at home and someone close enough to come to the nursery from time to time. I also need some part time clerical help here at the nursery. I like to work with those who love native plants and at least know gardening. Please send me an email if you are interested.

7 - Personal Notes - - SANCTUARY!

Sanctuary – an ancient concept, a special holy place within a religious structure where one is safe from enemies. Wildlife within a wildlife sanctuary are safe from hunters. Your private wildlife habitat can be a sanctuary for both wildlife and native plants. Why not a private sanctuary for yourself also?

How does a garden become a personal sanctuary? I don’t have a clear definition or “how to” instructions. Perhaps you readers do. In my own gardens I have a feeling of protection, of calmness, of strength (from the big conifers and oaks), of wonder and mystery at the constantly changing life forms and seasons. And always artistic enjoyment of the myriad colors and forms and textures so richly before me.

I would like to hear from some of you “How does a garden become a personal sanctuary?”

8 – Next Issue

Topics planned include:

A - Propagation With Summer Cuttings

B - Best Native Plants For Hedges and Borders

C - Collecting And Storing Native Plant Seeds

D - And Much More!

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