The lodgepole pine (pinus contorta, or shore pine) is a common evergreen conifer in the Pacific Northwest. It is able to grow as a shrub, but the tree variety can reach between 40 and 50 meters in height. It has needles 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, dark and shiny. The female cones it produces are egg-shaped, brown-red and are very resinous and pointed. The male cone needs fire to break open and release its seeds. Fire ecology of the lodgepole pine can be interrupted when excessive fire prevention practices are undergone.
Sequoia sempervirens, or coastal redwood, is a magnificent, monoecious evergreen tree that can live very long (1,800+ years) and reach up to 379 feet in height. It occurs naturally along the coast of California and the southewestern coast of Oregon. It is an excellent tree for lumber, so much that after the logging spree of the 1850s, it is estimated that 95% of old growth redwoods were cut down. Its crown is conical and it has very thick bark (up to 12 inches). The needles are arranged mostly in two dimensions, less than one inch long, and have dual white lines underneath. The coast redwood and conveniently has both seed and pollen cones on the same tree, making it self-reproducing. Growth however is low, with seed viability below 15% germination.
Cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum) is a large, perennial flower that enjoys areas like banks of streams, moist slopes, coastal marshes and beaches, and other wet areas. It has a hairy stem and has either large taproots or a cluster of roots. It can grow to three meters tall, but is usually content at one. The stem is hollow and employs many uses. The leaves are very large, reaching up to 40 centimeters long, and are divided into three segments that are palmately lobed. The flowers are white and numerous, growing very wide at the top of the plant, and stay there throughout winter until the stem is toppled down.
- Leaves very large (10-40 cm), divided into three segments
- Can get to three meters high
- Perennial flower keeps its structure throughout winter
- Stems are hairy and hollow, can be used as straws
- Enjoys many different kinds of moist climates
Shield fern (dryopteris expansa, also known as the spiny wood fern), is a deciduous fern that prefers most forests in the Pacific Northwest. The fronds are erect, clustered but spreading, and can reach up to one meter tall. It has asymmetrical pinnae at the pair closest to the base, and female ferns are three times pinnate while males are two times. The frond is shaped like a triangle, with and oblong shape in the middle and a fast taper at the end. It can have five to twenty pairs of leaflets, each with their own pairs of about 10 leaflets. Sori are rounded and partially covered.
- Deciduous, erect and clustered, can reach one meter tall
- Females are three-times pinnate, while males are two times
- Asymmetrical pinnae at pair closest to base
- Frond shaped like a triangle, with five to twenty pairs of leaflets
The Pacific sword fern (Polystichum munitum) is a large, evergreen fern that grows in moist locations, and is very abundant and widespread in the coastal Pacific Northwest. It is a once-pinnate (leaves are basal) plant that can grow up to 1.5 meters tall.
The leaves are lancolate and erect, and usually grouped together at the base, forming spiral patterns of growth. The pinnae are attached at one point, and are sharply toothed, alternating as they go up on the stalk. Each pinna is about 1-15 cm long, with sori underneath that occupy two rows, producing spores that are bright yellow.
- Fronds can get up to 1.5 meters tall, once-pinnate
- Fronds are lancolate shaped and resemble swords
- Pinna have serrated margins and are attached at one point on the axis
- Sori underneath pinna are double-rowed
Also known as Adiantum aleuticum, the maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) is an unusual fern that resembles plants more than ferns. The branches are palmately arranged and are where the leaves become fronds. Stipes can be dark purple or brown, 15 to 60 centimeters tall. The top of the stalk of the plant divides twice to create the fronds. The leaflets are fan or oblong shaped and are in a linear, consistent fashion with a little bit of tapering at the end of the frond, and are usually at right-angles to the stalk. Sori are oblong and on edges of leaflets.
- Branches are palmately arranged, where leaves become
- Stipes dark purple or brown, 15-60 cm tall
- Top of stalk divides twice to produce fronds
- Leaflets are fan or oblong shaped
- Arranged linearly with slight tapering at end of frond
The Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina) is a deciduous fern that thrives in wet, riparian and swamp conditions at any elevation. They are twice pinnate and fronds can grow to two meters tall, erect and clustered. The fronds are lancolate and taper at both ends, and pinnae are in 20-40 pairs that have a single attachment to the axis. Fronds resemble sword ferns but are more ‘football’-shaped, tapering at both ends
Not to be confused with the shield fern, the lady fern tapers toward the base at both ends, while the shield fern is more triangular-shaped. Sori are curved and elongated.
- Fronds can get to 2 meters tall and are twice pinnate, clustered and erect
- Fronds are lancolate and taper at both ends
- 20-40 pairs of pinnae attached at one point on the axis
- Thrives in wet, riparian and swampy conditions