Log House Museum Native Plant Collection

The plants in the Log House Museum garden are indigenous to the Pacific Northwest and are well-adapted to the moist, cool climate of our region. This is a point of contact garden, representing some of the plants that would have been growing here in 1851, and were being used by the Native people of the area before the arrival of the Alki Party. Over 150 years ago many of these plants were used as food, medicine and to make tools, though many of the uses are discouraged today. Here is a selection of some of the plants that can be found in our garden.

 Hardstem Bulrush

Bulrush, Hardstem
Scirpu acutus

This is a common wetlands plant. Bulrush stems, also known as tules, can be woven to make baskets, mats, bowls, chair thatching and clothing. New shoots are tender and edible.

Coastal Strawberry
Fragaria chiloensis

This member of the rose family is primary found in maritime environments, unlike other close relatives the Woodland and Wild Strawberry.  Tea made from these leaves have been used to treat diahhrea.  The edible berries historically were best eaten fresh as they were too juicy for preservation by drying prior to canning and freezing methods.

Common Camas 
Camassia quamash

Image courtesy of nwplants.com

Currant, Red-flowering
Ribes sanguineum

These beautiful decidiuous shrubs grow in dry woods and open sites.  The berries are edible and continue to be highly prized for their sweet-tart flavor as a summer fresh food and dried winter staple.

False Solomon’s Seal
Maianthemum racemosa

The young shoots of this plant are edible. Its leaves can be used as a laxative, to soothe a sunburn and as a cough suppressant. False Solomon’s Seal blooms small white flowers in April to June and then bears small red berries, which attract birds. Do not confuse this plant with the highly toxic False Hellebore that looks similarly when young.

False Hellebore (Corn Lily)
Veratrum viride


Aruncus dioicus


Huckleberry, Evergreen
Vaccinium ovatum


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi


Licorice Fern
Polypodium glycrrhiza

The sweet-tasting rhizome of the licorice fern could be eaten fresh, steamed, dried, or roasted.  Native people along the West Coast from Oregon to Southeast Alaska have been known to use it as a sore throat remedy as well as a sweetener.  It is found in wet environments, frequently growning on mossy logs and rocks.

Orange Honeysuckle
Lonicera ciliosa

The stem of this vining perennial could be used as a lashing or rope.  The long flutes of the blooms provide deep reservoirs for sweet nectar, popular with bees, hummingbirds, and children alike.  Tea from the leaves is a treatment for sore throats but should not be consumed by pregnant women.

Oregon Grape
Berberis or Mahonia quifolium

The Oregon Grape is the second most common shrub in the Pacific Northwest. Its berries ripen in August, attract birds and can be harvested to make preserves. The roots were also used by Native Americans to make dye.

Oregon Iris
Iris tenax

This flower blooms in mid-to-late spring. The leaves can be used to induce vomiting and help with depression. Native people used to weave the leaves together to make rope. This flower grows well in shaded areas.

Paper Birch
Betula papyrifera


Pacific Dogwood
Cornus nuttallii


Pacific Rhododendron
Rhododendron macrophyllum


Pacific Yew
Taxus brevifolia


Red Osier Dogwood
Cornus sericea


Redwood Sorrel
Oxalis oregona


Gaultheria shallon




Symphoricarpos hersperius


Birchleaf Spirea


Sweet Briar Rose
Rosacea Eglanteria


Sword Fern
Polystichum munitum

The distinctive, long fronds of the Sword Fern were of great use to Native people in the area. The stem of the plant is edible and the leaves were used as paper towels are today—to cover cooked food, line pans and for cleaning.

Twinberry Honeysuckle

Vine Maple

Vine Maple
Acer circinatum

The Vine Maple is one of the most widely used trees by Pacific Northwest tribes. Branches and bark were used to make everything from baskets, to snowshoes, to love potions! The leaves were used to line baskets and wrap foods for cooking. It was also used to treat polio and stomach problems.

Wax myrtle
Myrica californica


Western Bleeding Heart
Dicentra formosa


Western Hemlock 
Tsuga heterophylla

The Western Hemlock is the Washington state tree. These trees can live to be over 1000 years old. The needles can be chewed or brewed into tea and are a good source of vitamin C.

Western Red Cedar
Thuja plicata


Western Trillium Trillium ovatum

The Trillium plant is a protected species. Once the flower is picked it can take up to seven years for it to bloom again! This is one of the reasons why this native plant is becoming harder to find in the wild. The leaves are edible and are great in salad. Ants and mice spread trillium seeds, which is unusual since most flowers are pollinated by bees. Both white and pink Trillium flowers are present in this garden.

Special thanks to volunteers Meghan Freeman for photos and Mary Gunderson for research.  Additional photos and research provided by Log House Museum staff.

Selected references:

Briggs, Josie. Creating Small Habitats for Wildlife in Your Garden.  Guild of Master Craftsman: East Sussex, 2000.

Gunther, Erna.  Ethnobotany of Western Washington: the Knowledge and Use of Indigenous Plants by Native Americans.  University of Washington: Seattle, WA,  1945.

Jacobson, Arthur Lee. Wild Plants of Greater Seattle. Arthur Lee Jacobson, 2008.

Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon.  Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast:  Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, & Alaska.  Lone Pine:  Vancouver, B.C., 1994.

Prinzing, Debra. Pacific Northwest Garden Survival Guide. Fulcrum Publishing: Golden, 2004.

Stark, Eileen M.  Real Gardens Grow Natives.  Skipstone (imprint of Mountaineers Books): Seattle, 2014.