Wildflowers in Nanaimo

There is a Native Sun plant.

Camas or Wild hyacinth.

  • The perennial herb is from a bulb. The purple flower stalks are beautiful in April to June. They were found widespread, but are now declining.
  • Prefers moist to average meadows, gently sloping hills. Full sun to partial shade.

  • Bulbs were an important food source to First Nations people of Vancouver Island. They were ground, mixed with berries and dried into “pancakes.”

  • Not to be mistaken with white flowering Meadow Death Camas which is toxic.

There is a Native Sun plant.

Meadow Death Camas.

  • From a bulb. The grass is 4-15 in long and has stiff hairs. The stem ends in a raceme of flowers.
  • It flowers in April and June.
  • It likes moist to average meadow and gently sloping hills. Full sun to partial shade.
  • The mature leaves and bulbs of this plant should not be eaten.

There is a Native Sun plant.

Nodding onions are Allium cernuum.

  • For months, a drift of this long-lived lilies lure and butterflies.
  • Handles salt spray, wind, drought & poor, gravelly soils.

  • Best for dry open woods, exposed sandy meadows and rock gardens where it spreads quickly.

  • First Nations people ate the leaves and bulbs either raw, cooked or dried because of the strong flavour.

There is a Native Sun plant.

Woolly Sunflower is a plant.

  • Perennial herb 10-60 cm tall with light grey green and yellow flowers that bloom from May to August attracting bees and butterflies.
  • Prefers dry shallow, well-drained soil and full sun, but also grows on rocky slopes and bluffs.

  • Various First Nations people used this plant for medicinal purposes: using the leaves as a poultice and binding them to aching parts of the body; or rubbing the leaves on skin to prevent chapping; or drying the flowers and using as a love charm.

Red Columbine

There is a Native Sun plant.

Aquilegia formosa is also known as Red Columbine.

  • Perennial herb with tap root.
  • Delicate lobed leaves with breathtaking red, yellow fluted flowers to ‘2.

  • Prefers full sun/part shade and found in a conifer or mixed forest in openings or meadows.

  • Attracts Birds (seeds), Hummingbirds, Butterfly adult (nectar).

  • First Nations people had used various parts of this plant for medicinal purposes such as an antispasmodic, a diaphoric, a parasiticide and a salve or hair wash.

Oregon Iris

There is a Native Sun plant.

Iris tenax is from Oregon.

  • Perennial to 1 ‘. A large purple flower with white-yellow streaks and ruffled inner petals. It blooms mid to late spring.
  • The leaves are very slender and grass like – 5 mm broad.

  • Found in sunny open woodlands, meadows, pastures and roadsides with acidic soil.

  • First Nations people used fibrous leaves for braiding into snares and other cordage.

Wild Geranium

There is a Native Sun plant.

There is a wild Geranium.

  • Plants grow to 2 ‘ tall and produce upright stems and flowers in the spring and early summer.
  • The leaves are palmately lobed with five or seven deeply cut lobes. The flowers are 2.5–4 cm in diameter, with five rose-purple, pale or violet-purple petals blooming April to June.

  • First Nations people used this plant as an astringent, to stops tissue bleeding, to help with toothaches, painful nerves and for treating hemorrhoids.


There is a Native Sun plant.

Bearberry is a nickname for Kinnikinnick ( Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ).

  • A ground cover with dark green, leathery leaves and red berries is an early bloom for birds. The fruit looks like apples.
  • Grows in dry, sunny or sandy slopes. Creeping branches cover walls and tolerate foot traffic.

  • A caterpillar host and hummingbird feeder, this plant dresses up any site.

  • Used by First Nations people in their smoking mixes and the berries used to treat bladder and kidney disorders.


There is a Native Sun plant.

Lupinus is also known as lupe.

  • The branched rhizome is a perennial. There is a distinct palmate grey-green leaf. There are purple flowers in clusters.
  • Found in low to mid-elevations, in open meadows, disturbed sites (road cuts), shorelines.

  • Prefer moist to average soil. Fixes nitrogen levels in the soil.

  • Widely cultivated as a food source (legume family) and as an ornamental plant by First Nations people.

Oregon Stonecrop

There is a Native Sun plant.

Stone Crop in Oregon is Sedum spathulifolium.

  • Perennial “ sedum ”. “ Succulent, rhizomal spreading. ”
  • Edible, succulent leaves range from waxy sage green to crimson red.

  • Bears small yellow to pink flowers, which attract pollinators and hummingbirds.

  • Found in well-drained sandy or rocky locations. Often at edge of forest and areas of high precipitation.

Arbutus Tree

There are shrubs and trees.

Arbutus is also known as the strawberry tree.

  • Can grow up to 30 metres tall with a crooked or leaning trunk and several twisting upright branches. The leaves are glossy and the bark is thin.
  • Dense clusters of urn shaped white waxy flowers droop in April and May, leading to reddish orange berry like fruit in October.

  • Prefers rocky or rapidly drained soils, open sunny locations and rocky bluffs.

  • First Nations people of Vancouver Island used the bark & leaves to create medicines for colds, stomach problems, and tuberculosis, and contraceptives.

Vine Maple

There are shrubs and trees.

The vine maple is acer circinatum.

  • Mid to large sized shrub or tree. The look is beautiful and delicate. The leaves are attractive red to yellow.
  • Small white flowers at end of shoots. Winged seed.

  • Found in moist to dry soils. Understory and edge of conifer or mixed forests. Prefers shade.

  • First Nations people historically used the dense and hard, yet flexible wood of the vine maple for snowshoe frames, drum hoops and small utensils, such as spoons and dishes.


There are shrubs and trees.

Manzanita is a name for Arctostaphylos adans.

  • Green shrubs are found in rocky areas and steep slopes with poor soil and little water.
  • Characterized by smooth orange, red, or blackish brown bark and stiff, twisting branches.

  • Manzanitas bloom in the winter to early spring and carry berries in spring and summer.

  • The flowers and berries (which look like little apples) of most species are edible.

  • First Nations people made jelly from the berries and herbal teas from the leaves. The leaves contain chemicals useful to treat poison oak rash and mild urinary tract infections.


There are shrubs and trees.

Hardhack ( Spiraea Douglasii )

  • The shrub has multiple erect branches. The leaves are small. There are spikes of purple flowers that bloom in July and August.
  • Found in wet, moist and average soils, often at streamside areas and lakes. Occasionally at drier, partially shaded sites. Spreads by rhizomes very quickly and aggressively.

  • Some First Nations people used Douglas Spiraea for spreading and cooking salmon and for making tools to collect shells for trade and decoration.

Indian Plum

There are shrubs and trees.

Indian Plum is also known as Oso Berry.

  • The shrub is mid-size. The branches are thin and arching. There are male and female plants. There was a string of fragrant white flowers in early March. Native birds and animals like berries.
  • Found in Conifer and mixed forests. Often at edges or under canopy. Does not tolerate direct sunlight well.

  • First Nations people used the Indian Plum for food and medicine.

Mock Orange

There are shrubs and trees.

There is a mock orange.

  • White flowers bloom in early to mid- summer on a mid-sized shrub.
  • Found in varied terrain. Found in open forests and forest edge and in drier, bushier sites. Low to mid elevation. Tolerates sun but prefers part shade.

  • Enjoyed by Birds, Butterfly adult, Butterfly larvae. Poisonous seeds.

  • First Nations people used the hard wood for making hunting & fishing tools, pipes, snow-shoes, furniture, etc. Leaves & flowers formed a soapy lather or used in perfumes and teas.


There are shrubs and trees.

Oceanspray is a plant.

  • In poor soils, rocky dry sites in partial to full sun, and salt spray, this shrub thrives.
  • The leaves, lobed and triangular, are ¾” – 2 ½” long. The fragrant flower buds form dense, cream-colored clusters of tiny droplets that bloom for many weeks between May and July.

  • First Nations people used this exceptionally hard, strong wood to fashion arrows, harpoons, digging tools, sharp pins and even awls for sewing and beadwork. Because the wood does not burn readily, it was also used to make cooking tools and spits for roasting salmon.

Nootka Rose

There are shrubs and trees.

Nootka Rose is namedRosa nutkana.

  • One of the native roses. Small to mid-sized. There are 7 toothed leaflets.
  • Charming five broad, petalled pink flowers, yielding to bright orange pear shaped rose hips.

  • Likes full sun to part shade. Tolerates seasonal dry.

  • Loved by Birds, Butterflies and leaf-cutter bee.

  • First Nations people used the Nootka Rose as a food, medicine and building material. The hips were cooked and fed to children with diarrhea. A tonic tea was made from the petals, leaves, branches and inner bark. The leaves were also used as a poultice for bee stings.

Evergreen Huckleberry

There are shrubs and trees.

Vaccinium ovatum is known as the evergreen.

  • The shrub is mid-size. The leaves are bushy and dark shiny green. Pink 1 cm bell shaped flowers, 10 per cluster, yielding 1 cm berries.
  • Found in Coniferous and mixed forests, often at edges and openings. Low elevation.

  • Loved by hummingbirds and happy in sun or shade.

  • Charming evergreen with pretty flowers and edible fruit. A favorite amongst the First Nations people used in jams and pies.

Red Huckleberry

There are shrubs and trees.

Red Huckleberry is a Vaccinium parvifolium.

  • The shrub is mid-size. There are bright green branches.
  • Alternate, oval, non-toothed, 1″ leaves with yellow to pink bell-shaped flower, yielding bright red, tasty rounded berries – eaten fresh or dried.

  • Found in Conifer and mixed forests, often at edges or under canopy – light to semi shade.

  • Prefers light sandy well-drained soils with decaying wood. Low to middle elevations.

  • The First Nations people also brewed the bark or leaves and used in a tea or smoked as a bitter cold remedy. The branches were used as brooms and the twigs as fasteners.

Red Elderberry

There are shrubs and trees.

Red Elderberry is from Sambucus Racemosa.

  • The shrub has multiple erect, spreading and curved branches.
  • Compound leaves with 5-7 leaflets 2-5″. Floral stems with many small whitish flowers, yielding to rounded pyramid of red berries.

  • Good food for birds, deer and small mammals.

  • Found in conifer and mixed forest at openings in canopy. Does not tolerate well direct sunlight. Sea level to mid elevations.

  • First Nations people used cooked flowers and berries for jam and medicinal purposes, however, raw berries and seeds should not be eaten.

Red Flowering Currant

There are shrubs and trees.

TheRibes sanquineum is a red flower.

  • In the spring and fall, Hummingbirds and other birds feast on red and black blooms.
  • Beautiful mid size (8-10’) deciduous shrub. Erect, spreading branches with beautiful “stalks” (linear clusters) of small red flowers.

  • Found widespread in average to dry soils. Prefers open forests, clearings and disturbed sites.

  • The berries were eaten fresh by some First Nations people, but not considered very tasty.

Red Osier Dogwood

There are shrubs and trees.

There is a red Osier Dogwood.

  • The shrub is mid-size. Spreading branches straight. It grows quickly in the sun or shade.
  • Leaves are opposite with parallel tapering veins turning crimson in fall. Branches terminate in cluster of small white flowers May to July, yielding white berries. Young stems are brilliant red, with deep purplish fall color. Important winter food for deer and elk.

  • Found in moist to dry soils, open forests, stream sides and brushy areas. This plant spreads by runners, important in holding soil, slowing water flow and increasing sedimentation.

  • First Nations people used the inner bark and leaves in tobacco mixtures. The bark was also used as relief for weak kidneys or poison ivy, an anti-diarrheal and as a pediatric aid for bed wetting. The stems were used to make dreamcatchers, arrows, stakes and other tools.

There are shrubs and trees.

Dull Oregon Grape, also known as mahonia nervosa.

  • Oregon Grape thrives in sun or shade and is tolerant of the weather.
  • There are clusters of golden flowers in the spring.
  • In the spring, new growth is copper.
  • The blue fruit improves after frost. They are usually gathered for something. Birds and small wildlife are attracted to the berries.
  • The Oregon Grape root is a staple diet of the First Nations people and is used to cure many diseases.

There are shrubs and trees.

The word salal is derived from the Greek word for shallon.

  • There is a small size evergreen shrub. They were trying to erect growth.
  • Round leaves with a tip. 5-15 urn-shaped 1 cm flowers at end of branches attract birds and butterflies.
  • In sun, shade, humus, infertile, dry or moist soils, salal thrives. It does n’t require much care once established.
  • First Nations people used the berries for fresh and dried food. The Haida used them to make salmon eggs.

There are shrubs and trees.

Snowberry is also known as Waxberry.

  • A small shrub is growing and spreading quickly. The delicate, thin twigs are adorned withDiscreet, pink-white, bell shaped flowers. The hummingbirds are feeding on the food. Although poisonous to humans, large white berries are delicious for birds and other wildlife.
  • The leaves are blue and grow in pairs.
  • Found in shady and moist mountain and forest habitats.
  • First Nations people use an external wash to kill parasites and heal wounds.

There are shrubs and trees.

Thimbleberry is named after Rubus parvifolius.

  • The shrub is small to mid-sized.
  • The leaves are soft and have white flowers in small clusters.
  • Thimbleberry fruits are softer and smaller than raspberries.
  • Found in coastal, valley and foothill forests. In open sites or at the edge of the forest.
  • Many First Nations people harvest Thimbleberries and use the leaves for tea and as a vegetable.

There are shrubs and trees.

Salmonberry is a fruit of the Rubus spectabilis family.

  • The shrub is 6 ‘ tall by 6 ‘ wide.
  • Large, reddish purple flowers are replaced by yellow rose tinted berries.
  • Important for birds and small mammals.
  • Found in sunny or part shaded areas.
  • First Nations people used the roots and leaves to treat a wide range of illnesses, from indigestion to labor pains.
False Lily of the Valley

There is a Native Shade Plant.

There is a False Solomon ‘s Seal.

  • The stems are Perennial, unbranched, or arching.
  • Green to red berries can be found in the low, shade-loving groundcover with its shiny heart to arrow shaped leaves and white perfumed flower cluster.
  • Found in moist forests. Lowlands to subalpine.
  • First Nation people used leaves and roots on cuts, rubbed on sore eyes or made into juice for internal injuries.
Fringe Cup

There is a Native Shade Plant.

The Tellima grandiflora has a cup.

  • There is a beautiful, graceful herbaceous perennial that is found in Conifer and mixed forests.
  • The flower has several maple style leaves and is attractive to hummingbirds and other pollinators.
  • There are small, white to pink bell-shaped flowers. A fringe around a floral cup is described as a flower where the petals are highly divided.
Pacific Bleeding Heart

There is a Native Shade Plant.

The Bleeding Heart of the Pacific is called the Dicentra formosa.

  • The herb is like a perennial.
  • The flowers on the stem are beautiful.
  • It can be found in moist forest understory, openings or riparian zones.
  • It attracts butterflies and ants.
  • Traditionally, First Nations people have used this plant as a remedy for a variety of pains and diseases.
Coastal Strawberry

There is a Native Shade Plant.

There is a coastal strawberry or a woodland one.

  • The rose family has a perennial herb with green leaves.
  • Five to eleven soft, hairy white flowers are on a green, soft-hairy stalk that usually lifts them above the leaves. The leaves have toothed margins. Runners spread the plant.
  • The red strawberries have a thumbnail size.
  • Found in coastal sandy sites, sand dunes, bluffs, woodland and at forest edges. Sun to part shade is preferred.

There is a Native Shade Plant.

There is a plant called Trillium ( Trillium ovatum ).

  • The perennial is arranged in a whorl with three large leaves. There are three white to purple petals coming off the main stem of this plant. After flowers, it goes quiet.
  • White flowers fade to pink as they fade. Squirrels and chipmunks eat fruit.
  • Found in conifer and mixed forests.

There is a Native Shade Plant.

Bunchberry is also known as Creeping Dogwood.

  • Small clusters of bright red berries can be found in the fall on the high bearing white flowers of rhymatous. The leaves are glossy green and turn burgundy in the winter.
  • Widespread and flexible. It ‘s often found in shade or a forest that ‘s moist and acidic.
  • First Nations people used to make tea from this plant to treat a variety of conditions.
Sword Fern

There is a Native Shade Plant.

The Sword Fern is Polystichum munitum.

  • Medium to large sized evergreen. Large, erect and spreading frowns. The leaf-blades look like swords. Attractive copper-colored fiddleheads unfurl into tough, waist-high fronds.
  • Found in forests and on hillsides. It tolerates sun, but prefers shade and moist soils.
  • The fronds were used to line berry baskets and steaming pits. The young curled fronds were chewed to relieve sore throats.
Skunk Cabbage

There are Native Shade Plants.

There is a mammal called the Skunk cabbage ( Lysichiton americanus ).

  • The perennial has large waxy, short stalked leaves.
  • The flowers are produced in a spadix with one large bright yellow or pedal like spathe surrounding them. It blooms in late winter and early spring and emits a smell that attracts insects.
  • It grows in wooded, swampland, along streams and other wet areas.
  • Bears eat the roots of the plant.
  • The flat leaves were used to line baskets and pits for steaming food.
Vanilla Leaf

There is a Native Shade Plant.

Achlys triphylla is also known as Deer ‘s Foot.

A perennial with large leaves.

  • White flowers form on the stalks.
  • It likes shaded, moist sites.
  • The leaves smell like something.
  • The dried leaves were used to repel insects and to perfume homes.
Fawn Lily

There is a Native Shade Plant.

The name of the plant is Fawn Lilly.

  • There is a white nodding flower head with 6 long thin petals gently bending back to point upwards.
  • A thin stem raises straight up from the leaves at the base.
  • You can grow parallel to the ground from the base of the plant.
  • The leaves can be oblong or lance-shaped.
  • 10 cm underground is where the corm grows from a type of bulb that is covered in hairy bark-like skin.
  • There are well-drained meadow and rocky woodlands where it was found.
  • It can be Harvested before it flowers as famine food.

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Category: Flower

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