Native Plant of the Month: Ocean Spray

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The rocky outcroppings and coastal bluffs of the Salish Sea cast up a misty white sheen in the churning surf. But you don’t have commute to the coast to catch a glimpse of the ocean surf crashing on the rocks. Look no further than the well-drained hill tops and rocky soils of any upland habitat, for the delicate, clustered, white flowers of Washington’s native shrub – Ocean Spray.  

Ocean spray, Holodiscus discolor, is a common native shrub here in the Puget Lowlands. With broad, lobed leaves and characteristic white blooms, it pops up in areas after a disturbance. This shrub is one of the first to emerge after a fire, or even a logging event. It’s hard wood was an important resource for nearly all the native groups of this region, used as BBQing sticks, in place of nails and, more recently, as knitting-needles.