The evergreen huckleberry is a one of many evergreen shrubs native to Pacific coastal forests.
Huckleberries were first noted by Captain Lewis at Oregon’s Fort Clatsop in 1806. The plant was brought into cultivation by David Douglas in 1826.
This shrub can grow to 12 feet or more in the shade, sometimes a bit erratic growth spikes. It, like other berries in the vaccinium family, like acidic soil. The huckleberry tolerates salt spray and strong winds.
In the spring, branches are covered with clusters of small, pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers which yield tiny blue-black fruit in late summer.
Flowers attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Berries are eaten by songbirds, mammals, and humans.
Like its most well-known relative, the common blueberry, huckleberries contain high concentrations of antioxidants and were favored by native populations.
Today, they are frequently eaten raw and used to make pies, jams, jellies, syrups, and wine.
Harbor seals are the most widely distributed pinniped. On the Oregon Coast, you will most likely encounter the Eastern Pacific harbor seal, a subspecies found between Alaska and Baja California, Mexico.
These seals have spotted coats in a variety of shades from white or silver-gray to black or dark brown. They favor near-shore coastal waters and use rocks, reefs, beaches, and drifting glacial ice as haul out and pupping sites.
Pacific harbor seals spend about half their time on land and half in the water. They can even sleep with their bodies nearly submerged in water, exposing only the tip of their nose to the air – a posture called “bottling.”
Despite being skilled swimmers, harbor seals face a number of threats in the ocean. There is currently no commercial hunting of harbor seals, but some native subsistence hunting of seals still occurs.
Because they compete for many of the same species of fish, harbor seals are sometimes killed by commercial fishermen. Seals can also become entangled and drown in fishing nets and gear.
In addition, the species is preyed upon by killer whales, sharks, and Steller’s sea lions. El Niño events can decrease the animal’s food availability, which includes a variety of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans.
Locals and visitors alike marvel at the iconic image of the Douglas-fir. Did you know this tree provides for much more than good pictures?
This tree is highly revered, not only for its beauty, but usefulness. It has played an important role in the history of Oregon, as well as the United States. Impress your next visitors by sharing new knowledge about this interesting species.
Scottish physician Archibald Menzies first documented the tree on Vancouver Island in 1791. A rival botanist, David Douglas named the tree over 30 years later.
David Douglas, a botanist who described the tree in 1825 was the first person able to grow this tree in England.
Not a fir
The Douglas-fir is not what it seems and the scientific name gives a clue (Pseudo = false, tsuga = fir). It is not a fir, but an evergreen conifer that is part of the pine family.
This tree is very long lived and tall. It can reach 330 feet tall and have a life expectancy of 1,000 years. It grows taller and faster in the coastal rainforests where there is good drainage.
More than a century later in 1939 the Douglas-fir was designated Oregon’s State tree in recognition of the significant role it has played in the state’s economic development.
In addition to being beloved by Oregonians, the Douglas-fir is well-known across the country. Today, Douglas-fir is the country’s top source of lumber and accounts for nearly half of the Christmas trees grown in the United States.
Douglas-fir was also extensively used by Native Americans for building, basketry, and medicinal purposes. The wood was used for railroad ties, and telephone and telegraph poles as the nation expanded west.
Keep an eye out for this important species next time you explore the Oregon Coast!
Associate Professor - Tourism and Business Development
College of Forest Ecosystems & Society
Oregon State University Extension - Oregon Sea Grant
Equal Opportunity/Accessibility https://extension.oregonstate.edu/equal-opportunity-accessibility