Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database


Native Plants Around the House

These Northwest Native trees, shrubs and perennials have been used historically for household and utilitarian purposes by Native Peoples who passed their findings on to early settlers.

Take care in identifying plants before using them. Some plants have almost identical twins which can have harmful effects rather than beneficial ones!


(Aesculus californica)

Botanical name

Common name


Part used


Aesculus californica Buckeye Catch fish, firewood Seeds, branches and trunk Scatter seeds in streams to stupify fish so they can be picked up.
Alnus rhombifolia White alder Dye, gunpowder, insect repellant, tanning agent Bark, branches, leaves, cones Outer spring bark makes black dye. Branches used by early settlers to make gunpowder (inferior, however). Old remedy to remove fleas from home--pick leaves with morning dew still on them. Lay on floor to attract fleas. Quickly pick up and destroy as soon as fleas gather. Bark and cones used as tanning agent.
Aquilegia Columbine Insect repellent Seeds Mash, moisten and rub vigourously into hair for head lice
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnikinnik, Bearberry Dye, tanning agent Leaves, dried Ash-coloured dye.
Ceanothus Blueblossom, Wild lilac, Sweet bush, Buck brush Dye Roots Red dye
Cercus occidentalis Western redbud Furniture, construction, weaving material Wood, bark of young shoots Mature wood takes very fine polish. Use bark of young shoots for weaving material.
Clematis ligusticifolia Virgin's Bower Weaving material Fibers Rope, string bags
Ledum glandulosum Laborador tea Insect repellent, tanning agent Leaves, branches Use leaves as a wash for lice. Overdose may cause severe headache or intoxication. Also repels moths. Leaves are used as tanning agent in Russia. Branches are used in Lapland to discourage mice in granaries.
Mahonia Oregon grapes Dye Bark and roots Yellow
Pinus monticola Western white pine Adhesive Pitch from bark
Pinus ponderosa Ponderosa pine Adhesive Pitch from bark
Ramnus purshiana Cascara, chittam Dye Berries, bark Dried berries make dyes in sap green, bladder green. Green berries make yellow, good for staining maps or paper. Bark makes yellow.
Rhus glabra Smooth sumac Candles Seeds Seeds make candles which burn brightly though smoky, good for outdoors where they give good light and repel bugs. Berries make black dye. Leaves gathered after they turn red make yellow dye. Leaves or bark can be used as tanning agent. Split bark is fine weaving material.
Rosa gymnocarpa, r. nuttkana, r. pisocarpa, r. woodsii Bald-Hip, Nootka, Pea-Fruit and Wood's Roses Air freshener, society Petals, blooms Petals can be dried and added to potpourri. In olden times, a bloom was suspended over dining table to signify all conversation was confidential, giving birth to plaster ornament in center of ceiling called "the rose."
Umbellularia californica Oregon myrtle, California bay Furniture, construction, insect repellant, mold preventative Wood, small limbs, leaves Mature wood is beautiful building material, takes a high polish, somewhat waterproof. Small limbs are used in chicken roosts to prevent lice. Hang leaves with garlic to prevent mold.
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