Native Coastal BC Shrubs

Sambucus racemosa (subsp. pubens var. arborescens) Red Elderberry is a large deciduous shrub often found in moist soils near ditches and streams. It has an arching habit with compound leaves (5-7 leaflets), creamy-white April to May flowers and bright red berries (only edible when cooked). The fresh leaves are toxic to horses. Grows 6-15′ tall. Zone 5.

Mahonia nervosa – The Longleaf Mahonia is a much underused broadleaf evergreen that makes a good groundcover in difficult situations, such as under Red Cedar (Thuja plicata) trees. It features green foliage that turns a reddish-purple to plum in winter, with fragrant yellow flowers from late spring to early summer and edible dark blue berries. Grows 18″ tall. Zone 6.

Oemleria cerasiformis (syn. Osmaronia cerasiformis) Indian Plum is one of the first deciduous shrubs to bloom in local forests, with pendent racemes of white bell-shaped flowers emerging with the leaves. These are followed by edible peach ripening to bluish-black plum-like (tiny) fruits. This species has male and female flowers on separate shrubs and grows 10-15′ tall and up to 12′ wide. Zone 6.

Ribes sanguineum – Red-Flowering Currant is a popular flowering shrub that was introduced to Europe by David Douglas. The pendent pink to rose-red blooms are much sought after by the returning Rufous Hummingbirds. ‘King Edward VII’ and ‘White Icicle’ are two popular cultivars. This deciduous shrub has insignificant fruit and flowers best in sun. Grows 4-8′ tall. Zone 6.

Mahonia aquifolium – Oregon Grape is a versatile broadleaf evergreen shrub, tolerating everything from full sun (with even soil moisture) to shade. The green leaflets resemble English holly foliage and these often pick-up red highlights in colder weather. The bright yellow April to May terminal blooms (attracts hummingbirds) are followed by edible dark blue berries that make a good jelly. Grows 4-5′ tall and is hardy to zone 6.

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