Here in the Bear Creek/Sammamish River Watersheds, we have a wealth of native flora to enjoy. Here’s a few you could plant in your own yard (if Nature hasn’t already planted them for you!).

FOAMFLOWER (Tiarella trifoliata):
This shade-loving perennial wildflower looks especially nice when you’ve got a whole patch of them. Their tiny star-like white flowers look like sea-foam, especially if you get on your knees, squint, and think about the Little Mermaid.

The foliage grows fairly low to the ground. Leaves spring up from the base of the plant on relatively long stalks which culminate in three toothed leaflets. Taller thin stems hold the delicate blossoms. They bloom all summer, even into fall.

LICORICE FERN (Polypodium glycyrrhiza): Another denizen of our local forests, this fern is not afraid of heights. It grows in colonies, anchoring itself in the moss growing on trees and logs (and sometimes rocks). It is especially fond of Big-Leaf Maple (but I am going to sneak some into my old apricot tree and see if it notices).

Similar in shape to small sword ferns, the fronds grow singly from creeping rhizomes (roots) in the moss or soil. Though generally green all summer, Licorice Fern can get a little frowsy-looking. The wet winter months bring it to full glory, when more light reaches it through winter-bare branches.

Dried, the rhizomes can be used as a sweetener! Or so I hear — I have never tried it. I have tasted the rhizome fresh off the log. It really does taste like licorice. Native Americans chewed the rhizome as a sore throat remedy.

TWINBERRY (Lonicera involucrata):
Twinberry likes moist to wet soils. In the sun, it grows fuller than in shade. Both hummingbirds and butterflies appreciate the late spring blooms. The small paired yellow flowers look like little trumpets, and give way to two shiny black berries. As the berries ripen, the bracts (petal-like leaves) which hold them turn a striking scarlet-purple. Birds love the berries, but Native Americans generally considered the fruit inedible. They did use them for a dye.

It will form a thicket as wide as it is tall (about 6-8’). Beside a stream or on a wet hillside, Twinberry’s roots do a good job of anchoring the soil against erosion.

DAGGERLEAF RUSH (Juncus ensifolius): Another plant for wet, open areas, this grass-like plant stays small, usually less than a foot. The tufts of blue-green leaves look like small iris plants, but the flowers are tiny, bunched in several tight, cute brown spheres. The spreading rhizomes are excellent erosion preventers. Like other rushes, the seeds are valuable food for waterfowl.

You’re now anxiously wondering where you can get these plants, right? Well, the author just happens to own Tadpole Haven Native Plants on Paradise Lake Road. This working nursery is open by appointment.