A handful of field guides will help you get started with the local flora. No one guide provides full coverage; gaps often include introduced species, and species with more southerly or northerly distributions where this area falls at the edge of their range. Most of these books are still in print and can be located by your local bookseller or through internet book companies. Among them, most of the plants seen on the Columbia Coast can be identified.

At the top of my stack of most used field guides is Pojar & MacKinnon’s Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. This guide has range maps, photos, line drawings and clear descriptions of featured plants and closely related species, and covers about 70% of the local flora quite nicely.

For wetland plants, Sarah Cooke’s A field guide to the common wetland plants of Western Washington & Northwest Oregon is recommended. It has line drawings and good descriptions, though the range maps, counties where herbarium specimens were gathered, falls a bit short of actual distributions. A companion volume to this book is Jennifer Guard’s Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington, which is well illustrated though more focused on Willamette Valley wetlands than other areas.

For ocean beaches and dunes, look for two books, Al Weidemann et al, Plants of the Oregon Coastal Dunes, and Philip Munz’s Shore Wildflowers of California, Oregon and Washington.

Until the new Flora of Oregon is released, the next stop in plant identification for the Columbia Coast is Hitchcock & Cronquist’s Flora of the Pacific Northwest, with detailed technical descriptions, condensed keys and some illustrations. Look for the set by Hitchcock et al, Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, in five volumes, for illustrations of all species and expanded descriptions as of the 1960s. As volumes of The Flora of North America are released, these provide more current taxonomic guidance and descriptions, as does The Jepson Manual, which focuses on California.


Buckingham, Nelsa, Schreiner, Edward G., Kaye, Thomas N., Burger, Janis E., Tisch, Edward L. 1995. Flora of the Olympic Peninsula. Northwest Interpretive Association, Seattle, Washington. 199 pp.

Carlson, C.T. 1997. The summit vegetation of Saddle Mountain, Oregon Coast Range. Ms thesis, Portland State University.

Carlson, C.T. 1999. “Historical flora of Saddle Mountain,” Cumtux, Clatsop County Historical Society, Winter 1999, 19(1): 34-46.

Ceska, Adolf. 1999. “New name for Himalayan blackberry.” Douglasia, Summer-Fall 1999, 23(3-4): 16-17.

Chambers, Kenton L. 1973. “Floristic relationships of Onion Peak with Saddle Mountain, Clatsop County, Oregon.” Madroño 22(3): 105-114.

______. 1974. “Notes on the flora of Clatsop County, Oregon.” Madroño 22: 278-279.

_______ and Frenkel, Robert. 1987. “The Nature Conservancy Field Trip: Saddle Mountain.” June 27, 1987. Unpublished. 16 pp.

_______. 2000 “Oregon Delphiniums - Part II,” Oregon Flora Newsletter, October 2000, Volume 6 (3):18-19.

________. 2000. “Field trip to Saddle Mountain, Oregon, August 10, 2000.” unpublished, 12 pp.

Christy, John A. 2004. Native Freshwater Wetland Plant Associations of Northwestern Oregon. Oregon Natural Heritage Information Center, Oregon State University. 246 pp.

Christy, John A. & Judy A. Putera. 1993. Lower Columbia River Natural Area Inventory. Report to the Nature Conservancy, February 3, 1993, Washington Field Office, Seattle. 75 pp.

Christy, John, Kagan, James S., and Wiedemann, Alfred. 1998. Plant associations of the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon. U.S. Dept. Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOLTP- 09-98. 183 pp.

Cooke, Sarah S, editor. 1997. A field guide to the common wetland plants of Western Washington & Northwest Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Trailside Series.417 pp.

Eastman, Donald C. 1990. Rare and Endangered Plants of Oregon. Beautiful America Publishing Company, Wilsonville, Oregon. 194 pp.

Egger, Mark and Meinke, Robert J. 1999. “Castilleja chambersii (Scrophulariaceae), a new rare species from the northern Coast Range of Oregon,” Brittonia 51(4): 445-451.

Franklin, J. and Dyrness, C.T. 1988. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, Oregon. 452 pp.

Fernald, M.L., editor. 1950. Gray’s Manual of Botany. American Book Co. 8th edition. 1632 pp. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, editor. Flora of North America north of Mexico. Oxford University Press, in multiple volumes.

Guard, B. Jennifer. 1995. Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. Lone Pine Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Vancouver, British Columbia and Redmond, Washington. 240 pp.

Hickman, James (editor). 1993. The Jepson Manual: Higher plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California. 1399 pp.

Hitchcock, A.S. 1935. Manual of the Grasses of the United States. U.S. Goverment Printing Office, Miscellaneous Publication #200. 1040 pp.

Hitchcock, C. Leo, Cronquist, Arthur, Ownbey, Marion, & Thompson, J.W. 1969. Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. In five volumes.

Hitchcock, C. Leo & Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle, Washington. 730 pp.

Kunze, Linda. 1994. Preliminary Classification of Native, Low Elevation, Freshwater Wetland Vegetation in Western Washington. Washington Natural Heritage Program, Department of Natural Resources, Olympia, WA. 120 pp.

Maxwell, Cathy. 1991. “Vascular flora of the Willapa Hills and Lower Columbia River area of Southwest Washington.” pages 27-76 IN Douglasia Occasional Papers, Washington Native Plant Society, Vol 4.

McCain, C & Diaz, N. 2002. Field Guide to the Forested Plant Associations of the Northern Oregon Coast Range. USDA – Forest Service Technical Paper R6-NR-ECOL-TP-02-02. 250 pp.

Munz, Philip A. 1964. Shore Wildflowers of California, Oregon and Washington. University of California Press, 122 pages.

Pojar, Jim & MacKinnon, Andy (editors). 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska. Lone Pine Press, Edmonton, Alberta, Vancouver, British Columbia and Redmond, Washington. 528 pp.

Powell, James & Linsenmeyer, Chuck. 1994. Upper South Fork Ellis Creek Plant List. Unpublished.

Ripley, JD. 1984. Description of the Plant Communities and Succession of the Oregon Coast Grasslands. Oregon State University Ph.D. dissertation. 234 pp.

Thomas, Duncan W. 1984. “The vascular flora of the Columbia River Estuary,” Wasmann Journal of Botany, Volume 42 (1-2): 92-106.

Washington Natural Heritage Program. 1994. Endangered, threatened and sensitive vascular plants of Washington. Washington Department of Natural Resouces, Olympia. 52 pp.

Wiedemann, A M, Dennis, LRJ, & Smith, FH. 1999. Plants of the Oregon Coastal Dunes. Oregon State University Press, 120 pp.

Wilson, B.L., R. Brainerd, M. Huso, K. Kuykendall, D. Lytjen, B.Newhouse, N.Otting, S. Sundberg & P. Zika. 1999. Atlas of Oregon Carex. Native Plant Society of Oregon, Occasional Paper No. 1. Corvallis, Oregon. 29 pp.

Zika, Peter. 2000 “Unexpected rushes in Oregon’s cranberry fields.” Oregon Flora Newsletter, February 2000, Volume 6(1):3.

Zika, Peter. 2000 “Cranberries and the Clusiaceae.” Douglasia, Spring 2000, Volume 24(2): 7-11.


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