Adaptability is a valuable skill to have in this day and age. The Pacific wax myrtle is an expert in adaptability and could teach those of us who want to improve in this area a few important tips.
This evergreen shrub is native to the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, growing quickly up to 30 feet tall and 10-12 feet wide. Pacific wax myrtles flourishes along both streams and sand dunes in this region.
This tree is often used for habitat restoration thanks to their ability to adapt to a variety of environments. They thrive in wet soil, but are also drought tolerant and will grow in sandy, loamy, or clay soil.
The Pacific wax myrtle also transfers nitrogen and other nutrients to plants in its vicinity.
The lance-shaped leaves of the Pacific wax myrtle are a bright, glossy green with black dots. They have a fragrant, spicy smell.
The small yellow flowers create purple berries that ripen during autumn. The berries fall to the ground in early winter, attracting birds such as flickers, finches, and robins.
The fruit carries one seed per berry. Berries are coated with white wax that can be extracted and made into scented candles and soap.
Next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, think about the Pacific wax myrtle and its unique ability to thrive in a wide range of environments.
It may provide just the inspiration you need to succeed in the task you want to accomplish.
Shore pine and lodgepole pine are two different varieties of the species (Pinus contorta). In the Northwest, the coastal lowland form is called shore pine. Inland, mountain forms of this species are called lodgepole pine.
Shore pine is found between Alaska and Northern California and typically colonizes infertile sites near sea level where other trees grow poorly, if at all. When grown in tough, windy locations, shore pine can be twisted and irregularly shaped (hence the name ‘contorta’).
Although shore pine can live to be 250 years old, they are typically grow to between 20 and 35 feet in height due to the harsh conditions where they live.
Native people used shore pine pitch medicinally and apply to open sores. Various pine species are used to treat arthritis, muscle pains, sores, wounds, and pains.
Today, the lumber is sometimes used for furniture or cabinets, sometimes as paneling or other finished products. Its inland sibling, the lodgepole pine, grows straight and tall, and was used by natives for the central pole in tepees.
Nationwide, pines are second only to oaks in the food value to wildlife. They have nutritious, oily seeds that are favored by many birds and small mammals. Foliage is eaten by grouse, and deer; porcupines and small rodents eat the bark and wood.
The evergreen huckleberry is a one of many evergreen shrubs native to Pacific coastal forests.
First noted by Captain Lewis at Oregon’s Fort Clatsop in 1806 and 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 will tolerate salt spray and strong winds.
In the spring, the branches are covered with clusters of small, pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers which yield tiny blue-black fruit in late summer. These flowers attract bees, birds, and butterflies and the 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.
Associate Professor - Tourism and Business Development
College of Forest Ecosystems & Society
Oregon State University Extension - Oregon Sea Grant
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