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Home > Landscaping > Native Plants for Western Washington Gardens and Restoration Projects



Holodiscus discolor

Oceanspray

Flowering Period: May, Jun May June
Flower color: white
Mostly sunny
Moist soil Dry soil


At a Glance: Multi-stemmed upright shrub with ridged young stems and arching older stems with peeling bark. White flowers.

Height: Up to 13 feet (4 meters).
Growth Form: Shrub.
Stems: Several main stems; young stems are rigged, older stems are brownish with peeling bark.
Leaves: Alternating arrangement; leaves are dull green and hairy, broadly egg-shaped, lobed or coarsely toothed; leaves can have reddish hue in autumn; size: 3-6 cm (1-2.5 in) long.
Flowers: Flowers are in dense terminal pyramidal cluster, 10-17 cm long; 5 white petals, 20 stamens, mostly 5 pistils, ovary is two-ovuled; flower clusters turn brown and remain on plants over winter; primary color: white to cream; size: 5 mm across.
Flowering Period: May, June.
Fruits: Hairy achenes; size: 2 mm long; color: light brown.

Holodiscus discolor
Photo © Starflower Foundation
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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.

wet
moist
dry

Wetland Indicator Status:
NI (no indicator data)
low elevation
mid elevation
sub-alpine
high elevation


Soil Preferences
Prefers well-drained rocky soils.
sandy soils
gravelly soils
clay soils
muddy soils
peaty soils
well drained soils
shallow soils
deep soils
acidic soils
basic soils
humic soils
nutrient rich soils
nutrient poor soils
mineral soils
organic soils

Habitat Preferences
Aquatic and Wetland:
Ponds or lakes
Shallow pools
Sloughs
Swales or wet ditches
Seasonally inundated areas
Marshes or swamps
Aquatic bed wetlands
Emergent wetlands
Scrub-shrub wetlands
Forested wetlands
Bogs, fens
Seeps, springs
Shorelines and Riparian:
Lake shores
Bog margins
Streams or rivers
Stream or river banks
Riparian corridors
River bars
Floodplains
Bottomlands
Alluvial areas
Saltwater Areas:
In or near saltwater
Mud flats
Tidal areas
Estuaries
Saltmarshes
Brackish water
Seashores
Coastal dunes or beaches
Rocky or Gravelly Areas:
Coastal bluffs
Cliffs
Rocky slopes
Outcrops
Crevices
Glacial outwash
Gullies
Slide areas
Sub-alpine and Alpine:
Heaths
Snow beds
Tundra
Avalanche tracks
Forests and Thickets:
Forests and woods
Open forests
Coniferous forests
Old growth forests
Deciduous forests
Mixed forests
Nurse logs
Forest edges, openings, or clearings
Thickets
Meadows and Fields:
Pastures or fields
Meadows or grassy areas
Mossy areas
Disturbed Areas:
Roadsides
Trailsides
Logged sites
Burned areas
Disturbed sites

Wildlife Value
Berries
Seeds
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.


Suggested References



The landscaping and restoration information provided on this page is taken from the Starflower Foundation Image Herbarium. All photographs © Starflower Foundation unless otherwise noted.