Plant Selection Guide

The following table will help you select the best plants for your erosion control or slope stabilization project. Due to the amount of information involved, the table is split into two sections. Half of the information on each plant is in the first table, half in the second. To read the second half of a plant's characteristics, simply click on its name. When you are finished, click the name again to return to your place in the first half of the table.

Name

Form & Habit

Rooting Characteristics

Planting Condition

Comments

Red Alder
(Alnus rubra)
Deciduous tree; seeds prolifically on bare soil Fibrous, Moderately deep Bareroot seedlings up to 3' tall; larger plants in containers Fast grower in poor mineral soils; typical 40-50 year lifespan; large limbs become brittle; provides food for birds
Pacific Willow
(Salix lasiandra)
Deciduous multi-stemmed tree; does not spread Fibrous, Moderately deep and widespread Rooted plants to 10' tall in containers; cuttings 18" - 24"; whips 4' Fast grower in saturated or shallowly flooded areas; 25 year lifespan - large limbs become brittle, tend to break off; stumps produce long, fast growing whips; easily rooted
Scouler Willow
(Salix scouleriana)
Deciduous tree or shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Moderately deep and widespread Rooted plants to 10' tall in containers; cuttings 18" - 24"; whips 4'; whips not recommended Of the willows listed here, this species tolerates the driest conditions
Sitka Willow
(Salix sitchensis)
Deciduous tree or shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Moderately deep and widespread Rooted plants to 10' tall in containers; cuttings 18" - 24"; whips 4'; whips not recommended Fast grower in moist to saturated soils; widely used for streambank stabilization
Douglas Fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Coniferous tree; does not spread Tap - Modified
Tap, Shallow to deep and widespread
12" - 18" bareroot seedlings; larger plants in containers Generally not considered a primary species for slope face stabilization; high root strength but typical shallow rooting characteristics in thin coastal soils; can be planted in stands in slope crest greenbelts; good eagle and osprey perch and nest trees; potential for wind throw in thin or disturbed soils
Northern Black Cottonwood
(Populus trichocarpa)
Deciduous; does not spread Fibrous, Shallow to deep, and widespread, extensive Rooted plants to 10' tall in containers; cuttings 18" - 24"; whips 4' tall Fast grower in moist to saturated soils; also widely used for streambank stabilization; potential wind throw
Red-Osier Dogwood
(Cornus stolonifera or Cornus sericea)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, shallow Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot & cuttings 18" - 24" tall Attractive shrub that produces bright red stems
Black Twinberry
(Lonicera involucrata)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, shallow Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot 18" - 24" tall Produces yellow twin flowers and black twin berries; some success reported from cuttings
Ninebark
(Physocarpus capitatus)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, shallow Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot 18" - 24" tall Produces masses of tiny white flowers which change to reddish seed clumps
Cascara
(Rhamnus purshiana)
Deciduous tree/shrub; does not spread Tap - Moderately deep Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot 18" - 24" tall Shiny black berries are favored by Cedar Waxwings
Salmonberry
(Rubus spectabilis)
Deciduous shrub; spreads by underground runners to form thickets Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants to 4' tall in containers; bareroot 6"-8" tall; cuttings 18"-24" Spreads quickly once established; berries provide food for a variety of songbirds
Hooker Willow
(Salix hookeriana)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Moderately deep Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot & cuttings 18"-24" tall; whips 4'; whips not recommended A horticultural variety, "Clatsop," has been developed by the Soil Conservation Service for its vigor, disease resistance & attractive foliage; salt spray tolerant
Red Elderberry
(Sambucus racemosa)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot 18"-24" tall Produces red, non-edible berries; some success reported from woody cuttings
Douglas' Spiraea
(Spiraea douglasii)
Shrub; spreads by seed & underground runners to form seed Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants to 6' tall in containers; bareroot & cuttings 18"-24" tall Spreads quickly & aggressively in most sites
Snowberry
(Symphoricarpos albus)
Deciduous shrub; spreads by underground runners to form thickets Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants to 24" tall; bareroot 6"-18" tall Tolerates high winds and often grows on vegetated slopes overlooking salt water
Salal
(Gaultheria shallon)
Evergreen shrub; spreads by underground runners to form thickets Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants 4" to 12" tall Widely available; difficult to establish; slow growing; tolerates salt spray
Ocean Spray
(Holodiscus discolor)
Deciduous shrub; does not always spread aggressively Fibrous, Moderate Rooted plants to 2' tall in containers; bareroot 6"-12" tall Produces attractive sprays of creamy-white flowers; will root spread
Vine Maple
(Acer circinatum)
Deciduous shrub; does not always spread aggressively Fibrous, Moderate Rooted plants to 4' tall in containers; balled & burlapped plants to 10' tall Large specimens widely available; spreads by root and seed
Kinnickinick
(Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi)
Low-growing shrub; spreads to form a dense, evergreen carpet Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants in containers Widely available evergreen ground cover; tolerates salt spray
Thimbleberry
(Rubus parviflorus)
Deciduous shrub; spreads by underground runners to form thickets Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants in containers May be difficult to find in some native plant nurseries
Indian Plum
(Oemleria cerasiformis)
Deciduous shrub; spreads by underground stems to form open stands Fibrous w/horizontal, underground runners, Shallow Rooted plants to 4' in containers; bareroot 6'-8' tall Male and female flowers are on separate plants; only female flowers produce the attractive "plums"
Evergreen Huckleberry
(Vaccinium ovatum)
Evergreen shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Shallow Rooted plants to 2' tall in containers Attractive but slow growing; difficult to establish; tolerates salt spray
Nootka Rose
(Rosa nutkana)
Deciduous shrub; spreads by underground runners to form thickets Fibrous, Shallow (not extensive) Rooted plants to 2' tall in containers; bareroot to 18" tall; cuttings 12"-18" Thickets of spring stems create a formidable barrier; produces attractive, pink flowers followed by large, red hips; tolerates salt spray
Red Currant
(Ribes sanquineum)
Deciduous shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Shallow (not extensive) Rooted plants to 4' tall in containers; bareroot to 18" tall One of our finest ornamental natives; produces clusters of white to red flowers
Wax Myrtle
(Myrica californica)
Evergreen shrub; does not spread Fibrous, Moderate Rooted plants to 10' Tolerates salt spray; high wildlife usage
Native Plant Seed Mixes Annual and perennial grass and forb mixes available Fibrous, Shallow Seed Woody plant seeds also available (success typically low); very slow to establish; avoid exotic commercial mixes; seed mixes typically used in conjunction with other vegetation plantings; typically short-term erosion control technique

Other Attributes

Name

Mature Size

Water Requirements

Light Requirements

Soil Requirements

Recommended Spacing

Red Alder
(Alnus rubra)
Height: 80'+
Spread: 40'
Moist conditions, No data Full Sun Any soil 10'+
Pacific Willow
(Salix lasiandra)
Height: 40'+
Spread: 25'
Wet conditions, Usage high? Full Sun Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 6'+ for rooted plants, 2' for whips or cuttings
Scouler Willow
(Salix scouleriana)
Height: 30'
Spread: 15'
Dry-moist conditions, Usage high? Full Sun Any soil 6'+ for rooted plants, 2' for whips or cuttings
Sitka Willow
(Salix sitchensis)
Height: 30'
Spread: 25'
Moist conditions, Usage high? Full Sun Any soil 6'+ for rooted plants, 2' for whips or cuttings
Douglas Fir
(Pseudotsuga menziesii)
Height: 200'+
Spread: 50'
Dry-moist conditions, Usage moderate Full Sun Any soil 10'+
Northern Black Cottonwood
(Populus trichocarpa)
Height: 100'+
Spread: 40'
Moist conditions, Usage high Full Sun Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 6'+ for rooted plants; 2' for whips or cuttings
Red-Osier Dogwood
(Cornus stolonifera or Cornus sericea)
Height: 20'
Spread:20'
Moist-Wet, No data Full Sun Sun/Shade Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 3'+ for rooted plants, 2' for cuttings
Black Twinberry
(Lonicera involucrata)
Height: 10'
Spread: 8'
Moist, No data Full Sun Any soil 4'+
Ninebark
(Physocarpus capitatus)
Height: 15'
Spread:10'
Moist, No data Full Sun Sun/Shade Any soil 4'+
Cascara
(Rhamnus purshiana)
Height: 25'
Spread: 15'
Moist, No data Full Sun Any soil 4'+
Salmonberry
(Rubus spectabilis)
Height: 8'
Spread: 6'
Moist, No data Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil 4'+
Hooker Willow
(Salix hookeriana)
Height: 20'
Spread: 15'
Moist-Wet, No data Full Sun Any soil 3'+ for rooted plants; 2' for cuttings
Red Elderberry
(Sambucus racemosa)
Height: 15'
Spread: 10'
Moist, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil 4'+
Douglas' Spiraea
(Spiraea douglasii)
Height: 8'
Spread: 6"
Moist-Wet conditions, No data Full Sun Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 3' for rooted plants; 2' for cuttings
Snowberry
(Symphoricarpos albus)
Height: 4'
Spread: 3'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 2'+
Salal
(Gaultheria shallon)
Height: 3'
Spread: 3'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 2'+
Ocean Spray
(Holodiscus discolor)
Height: 10'+
Spread: 6'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 4'+
Vine Maple
(Acer circinatum)
Height: 15'+
Spread: 10'
Moist conditions, No data Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil - tolerates shallow flooding during the growing season 8'+
Kinnickinick
(Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi)
Height: 8"
Spread: 6"
Dry conditions, No data Full Sun Any slightly acid soil 2'
Thimbleberry
(Rubus parviflorus)
Height: 4'
Spread: 4'
Moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Any soil 3'
Indian Plum
(Oemleria cerasiformis)
Height: 10'
Spread: 6'
Moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Any soil 4'+
Evergreen Huckleberry
(Vaccinium ovatum)
Height: 6'
Spread: 3'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Sun/Shade
Full Shade
Slightly acid 3'+
Nootka Rose
(Rosa nutkana)
Height: 6'
Spread: 3'
Moist conditions, No data Full Sun Any soil, prefers rich soils 3'
Red Currant
(Ribes sanquineum)
Height: 8'
Spread: 6'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Any soil 6'+
Wax Myrtle
(Myrica californica)
Height: 15'
Spread: 8'
Dry-moist conditions, No data Full Sun
Sun/Shade
Slightly acid, with organic matter 10'+
Native Plant Seed Mixes Height: 1'-2'
Spread: varied
Dry-wet conditions, Medium-high Species/mix dependent Species/mix dependent Apply as recommended

Table 3 based on information from: Myers Biodynamics staff experience;
Binns, 1980; Stevens & Vanbianchi, 1993; Kruckeberg, 1982.

Footnotes

Water Requirements Light Requirements Rooting Characteristics Planting Condition Comments
Dry - Once established, tolerates dry soil conditions during the growing season Full Sun - Requires sun throughout the day Fibrous - Lacks a central root; root mass composed of fibrous lateral roots Sizes given are those that are generally found in nurseries; other sizes may also be available Growth rate; ornamental & wildlife value; wind/salt spray tolerance; maintenance; average life span
Moist - Requires moist soil throughout the growing season Sun/Shade- Requires shade for about 1/2 the day Tap- With a stout, central main root
Wet- Tolerates saturated soil year-round Full Shade- Requires shade throughout the day Shallow, Moderate, Deep refers to relative rooting depth (influenced by soil and groundwater conditions
Usage- Relative water uptake by plant [e.g., high or no data]