News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

OSU website helps gardeners choose Oregon-native plants

Linn County Master Gardener

OSU Linn County Master Gardener:

Wondering what plants to add to your garden landscape? There is an Oregon State University (OSU) Botany and Plant Pathology website – and books – that lists all known Oregon plants. It is tied into the herbarium at OSU and herbariums across the nation to provide complete information about plants in an easy-to-search format –https://Oregonflora.org .

There is a Grow Natives resource to help us choose the right plant for a beautiful and truly Oregon landscape. We can search for plant pictures and descriptions by where we live, size, sunlight, flowers, foliage, ease of growth, size and even wildlife support. 

Pull-down menus allow us to select the qualities we want, and then a page-full of pictures pops up for more specific information on plants that meet our needs.

There is a plant identification tool that makes it easy to find out what a mystery plant might be. A map pops up to indicate a radius where the plant was seen, then all the native plants known to be in that area appear on the screen to compare. 

More specific information, like plant family narrows down the field of choices, then recognizable characteristics can be selected to narrow down the possibilities further. 

Profile pages of plants, with pictures and descriptions, are available to compare plants with what was seen. A plant finder tool also has a map to look for a native habitat of a specific plant.

An exploration section looks into the OSU herbarium collection of plants, mosses, lichens, algae and fungi. Just type a plant name into the comprehensive guide search line and images from OSU, University of Oregon and Willamette University digitized collections appear. 

There is cross-reference for plants that may have multiple names. Again, profile pages of selected plants provide all the information the researchers can provide.

There is also a resource page with links to OSU plant and weed identification service, Oregon Department of Agriculture weeds and weedmapper, the Oregon Department of Agriculture plant conservation site and Mountain Plants of the Western Cascades and Oregon iMapInvasives. 

On a national level, there are links to USDA plants database, US Forest Service Region 6 Plants, Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria and Flora of North America eFlora. 

There are links to native plant societies in several states, and sites for information about gardening with native plants. 

Publications with lists and descriptions of plants are listed and linked from universities, public and private organizations, and recommended authors. 

Beautifully illustrated hard copy books of Oregon Flora – volumes 1 and 2 – are available for ordering, for $75 and $85 each, respectively.  Volume 3 is currently in process and donations for its development are gladly accepted. The entire project is funded by grants, donations and book sales. 

If you have a computer or smart phone, all the data is available online, but the books are truly works of art that can provide a plant person hundreds of hours of entertainment. Not to mention all the information!

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