The Palouse is home to a wide array of plants, and below is just a selection of these native species. A more comprehensive list can be found here. Below are plants found at the PCEI Nature Center, Rose Creek Nature Preserve, and planted at restoration sites.
Plants in purple are also sold at PCEI’s John Crock Learning Nursery. See more plants sold at the John Crock Learning Nursery here.
Perennials & Grasses
Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) – The only Heracleum genus plant native to North America. A biennial with large, lobed leaves and tall (5-8 ft) flower stalks in the second year.
Palouse Thistle (Cirsium brevifolium) – The Palouse thistle’s flower and seed head are different enough from that of the Bull and Canada thistles to be noticed. The Palouse thistle is a perennial with white or purple flowers.
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica) – A perennial that grows 2-6 ft tall in woods and thickets. Leaves are ovate, coarsely toothed, and hairy on both sides. Flowers are greenish with no petals. Hairs on the stinging nettle serves as needles that can inject chemicals when touched, which is why it is called “stinging” and also can cause paresthesia (the pins-and-needles sensation).
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) – Perennial, rhizomatous, and deciduous forb growing up to 3 ft tall. Leaves are slender and fern-like, alternating on the stalk. Flowers are white and occur in flat- or round-topped clusters. Moderately fire resistant and favors warm, dry habitats and disturbed sites.
Common Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana) – Deciduous tall shrub or small tree growing 3-12 ft tall. Young bark is smooth, shiny, and red-brown, while older bark turns a dull gray-brown. Leaves are elliptic with an acute apex and fine serrations. Flowers are white, and fruit is shiny, red, purple, or black.
Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) – Deciduous, rhizomatous shrub growing 3-7 ft tall. Leaves are usually elliptic and long with some teeth; leaves on new branches might have variable shapes. Flowers are bell-shaped, white-to-pink, and fruit is white, spherical, and berrylike (and considered poisonous).
Douglas’ Spirea (Spiraea douglasii) – Deciduous shrub with rhizomatous, pink clusters of small flowers. Grows up to 2 ft tall. Small serrated leaves.
Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) – Deciduous shrub with 3-5 lobed leaves that turn red. Both fruit and flowers are edible. This shrub can grow up to 10 ft tall.
Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa) – Deciduous shrub growing 3-10 ft tall. Bark is thin and dark brown, and leaves are long and serrated. Flowers are small and white, occurring in round or pyramid-shaped clusters, and fruit is purple-black or red, edible, juicy, and berrylike.
Ninebark (Physocarpus malvaceus) – Deciduous shrub growing 2-7 ft tall. Bark is loose and appears shredded, while leaves are maple-like and dark green. Produces small white flowers in clusters between May and July, and seeds are small and brown.
Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) – Deciduous shrub that can grow 7-20 ft tall with dark red bark. Small white flowers and white, bitter berry-like fruit. Prefers riparian sites, which is why PCEI uses this tree to help stabilize banks.
Serviceberry / Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) – The city of Saskatoon is named after this berry. Deciduous shrub or small tree growing 6-20 ft tall. Bark is red-brown aging to gray, and leaves are thin, oblong-oval, with coarse teeth. Flowers are white and appear in April-July. Fruit is dark purple and apple-like.
Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii) – Large shrub/tree that can grow 3-30 ft. tall. Thorns can be an inch long and occur at nodes. Stems are reddish-brown at nodes but age to gray. Leaves are deciduous with irregular teeth. Flowers with white petals, which produce small black fruit. Found at Rose Creek in large quantities.
Lodgepole Pine (Pinus contorta) – Tree with thick, black, rectangular bark growing up to 100 ft tall. Needles come in twos, 1-3 in. long, and are stiff and yellow-green. Cones attach directly to the branch and have no stalk.
Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa) – Tree with a symmetrical bole, growing up to 140 ft tall. Bark starts brown-black and turns orange-dark red as outward growth of the bole slows. Needles are yellow-green, flexible and come in bundles of 3 or 2. Cones are 3-6 in. long, scales have a prickly end, and cones cluster at branch ends. Mature trees are fire resistant.
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) – Small tree up to ~80 ft tall with smooth, whitish/cream bark that turns blackish and rough with injury and age. Leaves are deciduous, broad, and almost round with fine teeth and an acute apex. Flowers are catkins that droop from the branches before leaves appear in April-May. Prefers growing along streams, in moist benches, and mountainsides.
Willow (Salix) – ~250 species of willows exist, and many of these can be found in Idaho. Species that the Restoration Team plants at restoration sites include Mackenzie, Scouler, and Coyote.
United States Department of Agriculture. Field Guide to Forest Plants of Northern Idaho. 1985.