Native “Thicket” Suggestions

Asked January 30, 2019, 12:28 PM EST

I’d like advice on plants that are native to Eastern Oregon (or similar), grow 10-20 feet tall and can form a dense thicket for birds and back drop. I’d like to collect seeds or starts, if possible, or otherwise keep the project affordable. I’m also looking for something “scrappy” (very hardy) and fast growing - even something considered a “scrub” plant, as long as it will grow tall and be dense. I’ve seen examples while driving hwy 197 between The Dalles and Maupin and, also, at White River State Park off hwy 216. Any ideas? Thank you!

Wasco County Oregon

2 Responses

Hi there,

I will start by providing you one of our most fabulous plant list resources for Central Oregon – Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon. It categorizes plants – i.e. shade trees, groundcover, etc. – and then gives basic information for each plant – i.e. how much water it needs, if it’s a native plant, if it requires full or partial sun, how tall and wide it can get, if it’s a good plant for birds, etc. I would recommend looking through the whole publication and looking for your specifications. (I can send you a paper copy if preferred if you call into the Extension office and let us know your mailing address. 541-296-5494)

While I was looking through, the plant that caught my eye for your specifications is the Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogony (Cercocarpus ledifolius) – It requires very little water, full sun, is native to Eastern Oregon (and beyond), and gets 10-15’ tall. Here is a publication from Utah State on growing Cercocarpus ledifolius: Curl-leaf Mountain Mahogany in the Landscape

Western Larch (Larix occidentalis) would also probably meeting your specifications. This tree is pretty cool, because it’s one of the only conifers that drops its needles in the winter.

I would also recommend the Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana) which is one of our most important wildlife trees in Central Oregon. It doesn’t grow fast, but it’s definitely one of our beloved “scrub” plants.

But like I said, please take your time reading through the Water-wise publication. It has a lot of really great information, and you may be inspired by a specification you weren’t even thinking about.

Best of luck!

Hi Michelle,

I have a feeling I'm going to meet you at the OSU Master Gardner's starting soon in The Dalles? :)

If not (and even if so), thank you so very much for this fantastic guidance. Really appreciate it. Can't wait to get the book and dig in (to both the book and where we'll plant)!!