Plants Growing Wild around Portland?

Asked July 26, 2020, 8:38 PM EDT

Where can any of the following eight plants likely be found around Portland, ie, near water, in deeply wooded areas? 1 Equisetum - various horsetail varieties 2 Wild grapevine 3 Alder Blackthorn 4 Black Walnut 5 Pokeberry Bush -- Phytolacca Americana 6 Foxgrape 7 Purple Buckthorn 8 Safflowers. /s/ Max ROBERTS

Washington County Oregon

3 Responses

Thank you for your question. I suggest you contact this resource: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/55084 Good luck!

Hello Max,

Based on our internet search, we've found the following information about where in the Portland area you're likely to find the 8 plants you're looking for:

Equisetum: This is a very ancient, primitive plant, having evolved about 230 million years ago. This article from the Burke Herbarium in Seattle describes several western Equisetums, Equisetum http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/browse.php?Genus=Equisetum. There are 4 main species in our area: Field horsetail (E. arvense L.); Giant horsetail (E. telmateia), scouring rush (E. hyemale L.) and Braun's scouring rush (E. laevigatum). Equisetum is found most commonly in moist to wet conditions, but once established can grow well in moderately dry areas. It is common in moist areas of the Portland area.

Wild Grape Vine: I could only find one native grape in our area, and that is the California native grape, Vitus californica. It is found along streams in California into southern Oregon, up to Douglas county. This article has additional information, Vitus californica https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/vine/vitcal/all.html#DISTRIBUTION%20AND%20OCCURRENCE. Apparently, it has been used for wine in southern Oregon, Growing Rogue https://www.wweek.com/portland/article-19914-growing-rogue.html. I think it would be difficult to find this grape growing wild in the Portland area.

Alder Blackthorn: Frangula alnus: native to Europe, spreading to Africa and west Asia. There is one on the OSU campus, Frangula alnus 'Asplenifolia' https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/frangula-alnus-asplenifolia. I think any trees in the Portland area would be under cultivation. There is also an casara buckthorn, Frangula pursiana which grows from BC to Northern California. It grows as a shrub on forested sites in the Pacific Northwest, and in the floodplains of the Willamette valley, Frangula purshiana https://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/frapur/all.html#INTRODUCTORY. You might look in wooded areas, maybe Forest Park.

Black Walnut: Juglans nigra: This tree has been planted in Oregon. However, it does not make a good landscape tree because of its size and the quality of inhibiting other plants. However, there are black walnuts on the OSU campus. Juglans nigra https://landscapeplants.oregonstate.edu/plants/juglans-nigra.

Pokeberry Bush: (Phytolacca americana) Pokeweed, or pokeberry bush grows into a large bush, and has become invasive in our Portland area. It starts in disturbed ground, but the berries are carried by birds into natural areas. This article has additional information. Invasive Pokeweed https://www.oregonlive.com/hg/2014/11/invasive_pokeweed.html. Look for it in disturbed or abandoned areas.

Fox Grape: (Vitus labrusca) is the native American grape. It is a slip-skin grape. Concord grapes are in this species. It is grown as a table grape in our area. Fox grape is found mostly in the eastern US. Foxgrape http://webpage.pace.edu/naturespace/Fox%20Grape.htm. It is called fox grape for the slightly foxy scent. You're most likely to find it under cultivation.

Purple Buckthorn: The native buckthorn in our area is alderleaf buckthorn (Rhammus alnifolia). It is a shrub that grows in moist soil, in wetland areas. This article from the Burke Herbarium in Seattle has more information, Rhammus alnifolia http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/taxon.php?Taxon=Rhamnus%20alnifolia.

Safflower: (Carthamus tinctorius L.) It is very common in western Canada and the US. Carthamus tinctorius L. https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=CATI. It is grown as a crop for safflower oil, but primarily in the wheat-growing areas east of the mountains..( Safflower https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/em8792.pdf). The plant likes sunny warm weather, and dislikes wet, poorly drained soil.

I hope this information helps you. If it's not what you had in mind, please get back to us with a more detailed request, and we'll do our best to help you.

Max - one more tool you may find helpful:

iNaturalist is a website where citizen scientists can upload pictures and locations of plants, wildlife, and more. Users can search for particular species in their areas. You can find this tool here: