By Amy Grotta, OSU Forestry & Natural Resources Extension – Columbia, Washington & Yamhill Counties
If one of your land management goals is to provide wildlife habitat, you’ll want to consider keeping a mix of native shrub species on your property. Shrubs provide a host of services to wildlife, including shelter or cover, nesting space, and food from their twigs, leaves, flowers, and fruit. With thought given to species selection and location, retaining existing shrubs or planting them can benefit wildlife without compromising timber growth or forest operations. This is the third article in our Shrubs for Wildlife series (see others here and here). Each article highlights one species that benefits wildlife in northwest Oregon forests.
Species Name: Oceanspray (Holodiscus discolor)
Description: A medium to large shrub, with long arching stems and up to 15 feet tall. The leaves are 1 to 3 inches long, lobed with a central vein and arranged alternately on the stem (center photo). The tiny cream-colored flowers grow in dense clusters at the branch tips and are present in late spring to mid-summer (top photo). The dried flowers persist into wintertime. Oceanspray’s name comes from the appearance of these flower clusters.
Wildlife Value: Oceanspray is beneficial to songbirds who use the shrub for cover. The flower clusters attract bees and other pollinators. Looking closely at the blooming clusters, I found them teeming with tiny insects (bottom photo). Besides pollinating the shrubs, these insects are going to be somebody’s lunch – those songbirds, perhaps.
Management Considerations: A shade tolerant shrub, oceanspray is found in the understory of mixed hardwood forests and in gaps of mature, open conifer stands. When harvesting, consider carrying oceanspray over to the next rotation by designating shrubs to be protected during harvest. Retaining clumps of shrubs rather than dispersed will reduce competition with planted trees.
If you are interested in learning more about creating wildlife habitat on your property, check out these publications:
Family Forests and Wildlife: What You Need to Know from Woodland Fish and Wildlife; and
Wildlife in Managed Forests: Early Seral Associated Songbirds from Oregon Forest Resources Institute.