Oregon has a diverse landscape, from its rugged coastline to its majestic mountains and sprawling meadows. Throughout the state, wildflowers emerge, painting the landscapes with an array of colors, shapes, and fragrances.
From the iconic Oregon Grape and delicate Camas to the fiery Indian Paintbrush and delicate Lupine, Oregon is ripe with wildflowers for nature lovers. This article discusses some of the most common wildflowers in Oregon.
15 Wildflowers in Oregon
The state wildflower of Oregon
The state wildflower of Oregon is the Oregon Grape, also known as Mahonia aquifolium. This evergreen shrub is native to the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and is commonly found in the forests and mountains of Oregon.
The Oregon Grape is known for its beautiful yellow flowers, which bloom in early spring and are followed by clusters of blue-black berries in the summer.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the Oregon Grape has also been used for medicinal purposes by Native American tribes for centuries, and is still used today in herbal medicine.
In 1899, the Oregon Grape was officially designated as the state flower of Oregon, and it remains a beloved symbol of the state’s natural beauty and rich cultural heritage.
Let’s learn more about the Oregon grape and some of the state’s other wildflowers.
1. Oregon Grape
Scientific Name: Mahonia aquifolium
Oregon grape is a native shrub with vibrant yellow flowers and holly-like leaves. This wildflower blooms from March to May, and the flowers turn into small clusters of grape-like blue-black berries that birds and other wildlife love. This flower species is hardy and able to survive periods without rain.
Scientific Name: Camassia quamash
The Camas flower is a beautiful and culturally significant wildflower found in Oregon. It is a perennial, belonging to the lily family with purple blooms.
Throughout Oregon, the camas flower can be found in the Willamette Valley, Columbia River Gorge, and the eastern parts of the state. Historically, Native American tribes, like the Nez Perce and the Yakama, harvested the bulbs of the Camas plant as a primary food source.
3. Sabin’s Lupine
Scientific Name: Lupinus sabinianus
Sabin’s lupine is a perennial flower found in Eastern Oregon on the western slopes of the Blue Mountains. It is characterized by dark green leaves and vibrant yellow flowers that grow in a tall spike. Sabin’s lupine is a member of the pea family, growing pinkish-brown bean-like seeds from its pollinated flowers.
4. Indian Paintbrush
Scientific Name: Castilleja miniata
The Indian paintbrush is a perennial that shows its true colors in the spring and early summer. Its leaves are green with bright red tips that look like they have been dipped in red paint.
This plant also has flowers, but they are green, tubular, and a lot less showy than its beautiful leaves. You can find this plant in dry, sandy areas like meadows, prairies, and open woods in Oregon.
5. Chocolate Lily
Scientific Name: Fritillaria camschatcensis
The chocolate lily is a beautiful perennial with brownish-purple, chocolate-colored flowers. The plant can grow up to 24 inches tall. Its flowers bloom from May to July and put off a foul smell that attracts flies, which help pollinate the flower. Like the camas, Native Americans used to eat the bulbs of this plant for nourishment.
6. Western Trillium
Scientific Name: Trillium ovatum
The Western trillium is a member of the lily family characterized by its large, three-petaled white flowers that often turn pink or deep red with age.
The center of the flower is adorned with bright yellow anthers. This plant can grow up to 18 inches tall and blooms from late winter to late spring.
7. Yellow Monkeyflower
Scientific Name: Mimulus guttatus
Also known as the common monkeyflower or seep monkeyflower, the yellow monkeyflower showcases yellow trumpet-shaped flowers all summer in Oregon.
The yellow monkeyflower grows up to 22 inches tall and is a favorite for pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies.
8. Pearly Everlasting
Scientific Name: Anaphalis margaritacea
The pearly everlasting is a member of the sunflower family that grows up to three feet tall. The pearly everlasting gets its name from the clusters of small, pearl-like flowers that adorn its silver-gray stems. These flowers are made up of papery, white bracts that encircle tiny yellow disc florets. Native Americans used this flower for medicinal purposes.
9. Western Wallflower
Scientific Name: Erysimum capitatum
The Western wallflower is a perennial plant belonging to the mustard family. Its tall stems are adorned with clusters of fragrant, vibrant orange or yellow four-petal flowers that bloom from late spring to early summer, typically from May to July.
10. Western Columbine
Scientific Name: Aquilegia formosa
Also known as crimson columbine, Western Columbine is a member of the buttercup family. The flowers have vibrant red sepals and yellow petals, and these plants can grow up to 40 inches tall. The red sepals stick up from the petals and resemble several doves grouped together, which makes sense because the name “columbine” is Latin for “dove.”
11. Western Pasque Flower
Scientific Name: Anemone occidentalis
The western pasque flower, also known as western pasque or western anemone, is a stunning wildflower found in Oregon. This perennial is part of the buttercup family and has fuzzy, silvery-gray leaves and beautiful, nodding flowers ranging in color from pale lavender to deep purple.
12. Douglas Aster
Scientific Name: Symphyotrichum subspicatum
Also known as Cascade aster or Oregon aster, Douglas aster is a beautiful perennial plant with vibrant purple flowers. The Douglas aster typically grows in various habitats, including meadows, open woodlands, and mountain slopes throughout Oregon, especially in the Cascade Range and coastal regions.
13. Oregon Iris
Scientific Name: Iris tenax
The Oregon iris has broad, sword-shaped leaves and produces showy flowers with three upright petals, called standards, and three drooping petals, called falls.
The petals can range in color from deep purple and blue to lighter shades of lavender and yellow. They bloom from May to June in meadows, wetlands, and open woodlands in Oregon.
Scientific Name: Campanula rotundifolia
The harebell is a perennial plant that belongs to the bellflower family. It flowers during the summer and fall in Oregon and has delicate, bell-shaped flowers that vary in color from light blue to violet with slender stems that secrete a milky sap when broken.
15. Showy Milkweed
Scientific Name: Asclepias speciosa
Showy milkweed is known for its tall, erect stems and vibrant flowers. It produces clusters of pink to purple flowers that attract pollinators like butterflies and bees.
It typically blooms from late spring to summer, usually from June to August. The showy milkweed provides essential food for caterpillars that eventually become monarch butterflies.
Where and When to View Common Wildflowers in Oregon
To see these beautiful wildflowers in Oregon for yourself, it’s important to know when and where to look. In Western Oregon, in areas like the Willamette Valley and the Oregon Coast, April to June is the prime time to see wildflowers such as Camas, Lupine, and Oregon Iris.
From May to July, areas like Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge are ripe with a wide variety of wildflowers, such as Columbine, Indian Paintbrush, and Showy Milkweed.
Additionally, areas like the high desert region in Eastern Oregon burst into color from May to June with wildflowers like Balsamroot, Lupine, and Indian Blanket. There are plenty of places to see Oregon’s beautiful wildflowers. You just have to know when and where to look.