Oregon's climate is varied throughout the state depending on the mountain ranges and desert areas. The coastal areas are filled with timber and receive 200 inches of rainfall annually. The Willamette Valley is not subject to the temperature extremes like other areas due to the Pacific Ocean's influence. This area has long growing seasons and mild winters. Other places in Oregon have hot, dry weather like the wheat belt and pasture lands. These areas receive around 8 inches of rain each year.
American elder (Sambucus canadensis) is a deciduous shrub with arching branches reaching 5 to 12 feet tall. This shrub quickly grows to tree size in only a couple of years. The 2 to 6 inch long compound leaves are made up of 5 to 11 dark green leaflets with serrated edges. In July, small white flowers cluster in groups 6 to 10 inches across. Edible purple-black, berry-shaped fruits mature in September. This fruit is commonly used to make juice and wine.
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida) produces upright clumps of flowers 3 feet tall. The dark green leaves grow in rosettes at the bottom of the flower stems. Yellow-orange petals surround a black center to form a bright daisy blossom. Each individual flower lasts about 2 weeks, but the plant blossoms from July through September. Drought conditions cause black-eyed Susans to blossom early. This daisy will self-seed itself to the point of invading the area around it. Removing dying flowers prevents the production of seeds.
St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort (Hypericum calycinum) is an evergreen perennial in warm climates in Oregon. This 12-inch-tall, shrub-like plant produces woody stems as it matures. New leaves emerge bronze colored and turn green as they age. The 3 inch long, oval leaves are a deep blue-green color in the autumn. Bright yellow, five-petaled flowers appear from June to September. St. John's Wort is often planted as a groundcover.
Oregon Grape Holly
Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) is a slow growing evergreen with upright stems that reach 3 to 6 feet tall. The leathery, glossy leaves are actually clusters of 5 to 9 leaflets. The leaves appear reddish-bronze then turn green as they age. Oregon grape holly turns purplish-bronze during the cold winter weather. Early in the spring, tiny yellow flowers cluster together on the ends of the branches. Later in the summer, edible blue-black berries appear. This perennial prefers moist soil, but will tolerate dry conditions.
Red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) is a 4 to 10 foot tall deciduous shrub with many green branches. The green stems and small oblong leaves are commonly tinged with red. Greenish-white or pink bell-shaped flowers are tiny and followed by circular, bright red berries that are edible. Red huckleberry bushes are usually found in waste areas below 5,000 feet, where they grow on rotting logs and stumps.