Oceanspray – Holodiscus discolor
As we enter the heat of summer, flowers in many parts of the garden are slowly succumbing to the rising temperatures. However, one plant that is flourishing in the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden is oceanspray, Holodiscus discolor. A member of the rose family, oceanspray is a northwest perennial shrub that grows 4-5 feet tall with an arching habit. In summer the shrub is covered in green, deeply lobed leaves and sprays of fragrant white flowers. The plentiful, creamy blooms provide a bounty of food for native pollinators.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark came across this plant while traveling along the Clearwater River on their way through Idaho. Lewis commented on its similar appearance to ninebark (Physocarpus spp.), another member of the rose family. Like ninebarks, oceansprays make excellent landscape plants – the delicately curving, red stems providing winter interest and the summer blooms attracting humans and pollinators alike. Historically they have been used by Native American tribes for their strong wood and for making a tea from the fruits to treat diarrhea and other ailments.
Oceanspray can be found midway up the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden trail, where you will witness for yourself the incredible pollinator magnets that they are. Perhaps you’ll consider planting one of your own.
Written by IBG gardener, Anna Lindquist.