Native Plant Guide

Conifers | Deciduous | Shrubs | Ferns, Fungus etc

Also see WSU's Comprehensive Native Plant Guide

Coniferous Trees

Douglas Fir
Doug Fir

The Douglas Fir is the most prevalent tree in the Arboretum as well as the most plentiful softwood species in North America. It is easily distinguished by its needles which are flat with a pointed tip and are soft to the touch. Another unique feature is the thick bark which is furrowed and reddish brown at maturity. The bark creates a protective layer that can save the tree from dying in a forest fire. The Douglas Fir cones are identified by the three pronged bracts between the scales.

Western Hemlock

The trick to identifying a Western Hemlock is looking at the top. The crown is narrow and the new growth makes the top droop. The needles come in two lengths with the shorter ones standing erect on the top of the twig. The bark is red-ish or dark-brown with a rough and scaly texture that is less furrowed then the Douglas Fir. The cones are less than an inch in length and hang from the end of the branches.

Western Red Cedar
Red Cedar

The branches of the Western Red Cedar are covered with scale like needles which over lap like shingles. Needles on the Cedar do not bristle out like the Douglas Fir and Hemlock, but are organized in flat sequences. The branches droop down but turn up at the ends. Numerous cones grow in a bent back position along the branch. Unlike the Fir and Hemlock, the Cedar's bark is gray and easily peels off in long strips.


Deciduous Trees


This tree requires plenty of light so look for it in the breaks of the coniferous trees. The crown of the Alder is narrow, distinguishing it from the Big Leaf Maple. It grows to a height of sixty feet or more. The leaves are egg shaped with shallow serrated edges on the leaves.


Big Leaf Maple
Big Leaf maple

The leaves are green, consist of five lobes with very few teeth, and can easily measure twelve inches in width. These leaves are featured on the Canadian Flag. The tree is characterized by a broad crown and can grow seventy feet tall.




Oregon Grape
Oregon Grape

One of the most prominent traits of the Oregon Grape is the similarity of its leaf to that of a holly tree. The leaves have a shiny, leathery surface and a spiny edge. The bushes grow approximately three feet tall. Small clusters of yellow flowers appear before the edible blue berries.



Indian Plum
Indian Plum

The Indian Plum is a large shrub that can grow up to thirteen feet tall. The leaves are shaped like a blade and are two to five inches long. If the leaves are damaged, they smell like a cucumber. The waxy blossoms droop in clusters of five petals. The flowers turn into a bitter plum like fruit.




The Snowberry is a medium sized bush and is distinguishable by its opposite leaf pattern splaying off a round stem. It's creamy or pinkish tubular flowers turn into white berries.

These are only a few of the shrubs that flourish in the arboretum. Others include salmonberry, scotchbroom, salal, oceanspray and thimbleberry.


Ferns, Fungus and Other Such Things


The moist climate of the Arboretum fosters a temperate environment for an array of plants. Under the canopy of trees and shrubs, the trails are flanked by Sword Ferns and brightly colored mushrooms. Moss runs riot and covers everything from the overhanging trees to the trail itself. The blue forget-me-nots contrast the predominantly green leaves, their petal clusters nodding in the breezes along the trail.