A Look at Fungi

Another wander through the woods and hedgerows to look at the various shrubs that make these walks into nature just that little bit more interesting. To see the flowers and the fruits that are as varied as the shrubs themselves. They range from a few inches high in alpine areas, to over ten feet tall and ten feet wide.

There are two popular varieties of Oregon Grape, Tall Oregon Grape, Berberis Aquifolium, and Dwarf Oregon Grape, Berberis nervosa. They are Berberis sp.in botanists language and Mahonia Aquifolium and Mahonia nervosa in the horticulturists world. Oregon Grape is a well known herbal medicine, first made available in 1886 for skin problems. That drug company is still operating today.
The flowers and the fruit of the two species are very much the same.
The plants themselves can be identified by looking at the underside of the leaves.The fish bone type of leaf on the left is the Tall Oregon Grape with the pattern of the dwarf plant on the right.
Black Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata,of course gets its common name from the black berries that form after the yellow flowers. The Twin part could include the sets of two flowers that produce two berries each.
Black Twinberry, Lonicera involucrata, it is certainly a very nice shrub, right through the flowering season to the formation of the fruits.
Orange Honeysuckle, Lonicera ciliosa, is a sprawling, trailing shrub, that will use other plants in the area to climb on to and over and use them as supports. The tube like flowers are very attractive to hummingbirds.
Ninebark with the Latin name of Physocarpus opulifolius, is noted for its bark. It peels to show several layers of various shades and it is this phenomenal that brought about its common name. During the growing season however the bark is usually difficult to see, the fall and winter season is the best time. The small whitish flowers are in dense rounded clusters resembling spirea flowers.
Alpine spirea, Spireae densiflora, is a typical example. A sub alpine species that rarely grows over 3 feet high and has clusters of small reddish flowers on the end of the stems.
Another shrub more easily recognized by the fruits than the flower is Snowberry, Symphoricarpus albus. The flowers are rather inconspicuous compared to the bunches of white berries.
There is also another species of Snowberry, Creeping Snowberry, Symphoricarpus hesperius, which is a low creeping plant with stems up to nine feet that are usually less than 18 inches high. This shrub is not as common as the taller snowberry.
Another shrub with fruits that are more popular than the flowers, although the clumps of pinkish rose type flowers are attractive themselves, is the Himalayan berry, Rubus discolor. This shrub is better known as Brambles. The black ripe fruits of this huge prickly shrub have been consumed for many years in many lands as this shrub is not native to North America..
Salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis, is found in most forest on the Northwest coast and is a native species.
Although Salmonberry has edible fruits, it is not so prolific as the the bramble bushes. The flowers are also more attractive and in a glorious salmon color.
One of the earliest shrubs to blossom on the west coast is the Indian Plum, Oemleria cerasiformis. The long dangling white flowers making a very welcome sight early in the year. These hanging bell shaped flowers then give way to the clumps of orange berries.
False Azalea, Menziesia ferruginea, is a straggling shrub in the northwestern area of North America. With small bell shaped flowers in small drooping clusters along the stems of the previous years growth. The leaves are very attractive in the fall when they turn a brilliant crimson orange. It grows from sea level to the subalpine forests.
Oval-leaved Blueberry, Vaccinium ovalifolium, is an erect spreading shrub and can reach 6 feet in height. The oval shaped leaves give this plant its Latin name. The new growth branches are reddish and quite obvious in the autumn when the leaves have fallen. The pinkish urn shape flowers can appear before the leaves. The blue-black berries in the fall are quite edible.
Western Bog Laurel, Kalmia microphylla, is common on bogs and fens to alpine heights. The woody stems are green to gray and branch out near to the ground and grow vertically to 18 inches to 4 feet. The lance shaped leaves are leathery and evergreen. The small clusters of pink saucer shaped flowers along with the leaves are poisonous.
Bog Blueberry, Vaccinium uliginosum.
This shrub is native to the northern hemisphere from British Columbia to California, Utah and the Rocky Mountains. It also has a huge range in altitude, from sea level in the far north to 10.000 feet in the southern part of its range. It grows in the tundra and the understory of coniferous forests. It is a small shrub rarely over 3 feet high with brown stems. The flowers are urn shaped and pale pink with the dark blue to black fruits edible in the late part of summer.


There are a number of wild heathers, and many who's habitat is in the sub-alpine range. The Red Mountain Heather, Phyllodoce empetriformis, is one such plant. The bell shaped flowers are a great reason to visit these higher elevations where one can find peace and solitude amongst the wonders of nature.
Accompanying the Red Mountain heather at the alpine altitude, one could find the White Mountain Heather, Cassiope mertensianna. This shrub can grow for 20 years or more and still remain only 12 inches high, indeed, it is a very slow growing shrub. Again we have the bell shaped nodding flowers near the branch tips. The stems are nearly completely covered by the leaves. Another pleasure for the mountain wanderer.
White rose-bay or White Rhododendron, Rhododendron albiflorum, is native to North America from the Rocky Mountains south to Oregon and east to Montana. It is fairly common at subalpine elevations. The white flowers are bowl shaped, and clustered in the leaf axils along the stem. The flowers are mildly scented appearing in June to August. The leaves are broadly lanceolate up to 4 inches long.

The State flower of Washington is the Pacific Rhododendron, Rhododendron macrophyllum. It is a broadleaf evergreen plant native to western North America. It can be found in British Columbia down to the lower areas of California. The flowers are usually pink although there are variants. It flurishes in disturbed sites like roadsides and deforested areas and wildlands.
A very large and attractive shrub when in full bloom and also when the fruits have formed,is the Red Elderberry, Sambucus racemosa. But beware, the elderberry contains hydrocyanic acid and if eaten in large quantities can lead to cyanide poisoning. It is a tall shrub reaching heights of over 15 feet. The leaves taper to a point and sharply toothed and often unequally shaped at the base.
Ocean Spray, Holodiscus discolor. is a fast growing shrub that reaches a hight of around 15 feet. The flowers are in huge clusters drooping from the branches with a faint scent. It bears a small fruit containing one seed that is dispersed by the wind. Ocean spray is found in a variety of habitats, from wet coastal forests to drier, cooler mountain peaks further inland.
Western Spiraea is also known as Hardhack, Spiraea douglasii. This is a deciduous shrub that grows in open areas to 7 feet high. The oval leaves to oblong in shape are toothed from midpoint to the tip and dark green on the upper surface. The flower spike is rose colored and and up to 8 inches long with each flower having 5 petals. The seed head remains on the plant throughout the winter turning dark brown.
Gorse, Ulex europaeus, is a spiny evergreen shrub with bright yellow pea-like flowers. This shrub grows rapidly for the first 15 years, and can live up to 45 years. The maturing seed pods explode and disperse the seeds