At a Glance: Multi-stemmed upright shrub with ridged young stems and arching older stems with peeling bark. White flowers.
|Sun/Shade Tolerance||Hydrology||Elevation Range||
Prefers open, sunny habitats.
full sun > 80%
mostly sunny 60%-80%
partial sun and shade 40%- 60%
mostly shady 60%-80%
full shade > 80%
|Common in dry and moist habitats.
Wetland Indicator Status:
NI (no indicator data)
|Prefers well-drained rocky soils.|
well drained soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Seeps, springsShorelines and Riparian:
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
In or near saltwater
Coastal dunes or beachesRocky or Gravelly Areas:
Slide areasSub-alpine and Alpine:
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Old growth forests
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
ThicketsMeadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areasDisturbed Areas:
Nectar for hummingbirds
Nectar for butterflies
Host for insect larvae
Thickets and shelter
Thorny or protective cover
Birds: During winter months, insect-eating birds such as chickadees and bushtits forage for insects in the shrub. The seeds persist through the winter. Dense branches provide songbirds with shelter and cover.
Insects: Swallowtail, brown elfin, Lorquins admiral, and spring azure butterflies browse on the foliage. The nectar may be harvested by mature swallowtail butterflies. Many species of insects live in the dense structure of oceanspray.
Mammals: Deer and elk browse the foliage.
|Ethnobotanical Uses and Other Facts||
Material Uses: The wood of oceanspray is hard and durable. It was used to make digging sticks, spears, harpoon shafts, bows, and arrows by nearly all coastal groups including the Salish, Halqemeylem, Squamish, Sechelt, and Kwakwakawakw. The Saanich and Cowichan used the wood to make salmon-barbequing sticks, inner bark scrapers, halibut hooks, cattail mat needles, and more recently knitting needles. Oceanspray pegs were used in construction before the use of nails. The Nlakapamux made armor plating from the hard oceanspray wood. The Squaxin used the wood to make canoe paddles.
Medicinal Uses: The Saanich and Stlatlimx boiled the fruiting clusters of the oceanspray to make an infusion that was drank to cure diarrhea, measles, chickenpox. This infusion was also used as a blood tonic. The Lummi applied the leaves to sore lips and feet.
Landscape Uses: Nice background plant.
- Alden, P., D. Paulson. 1998. National Audubon Society, Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. Chanticleer Press. Page 121.
- Gunther, E. 1973. 2nd ed. Ethnobotany of Western Washington. University of Washington Press. Page 33.
- Hitchcock, C.L., A. Cronquist. 1973. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. Page 213.
- Jacobson A.L. 2001. Wild Plants of Greater Seattle. Published by author. Page 104.
- Link, R. 1999. Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press. Page 257.
- Lyons, C., W. Merilees. Trees and Shrubs to Know in Washington and British Columbia. Lone Pine Publishing. Page 142.
- Pojar, J., A. Mackinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Lone Pine Publishing. Page 71.
- Turner, N.AJ. 1975. Food Plants of British Columbia Indians: part 1, Coastal Peoples. British Columbia Provincial Museum. Page 181.
The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.