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Oceanspray shrubs amongst the Garry Oaks | by M.E. Sanseverino
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Oceanspray shrubs amongst the Garry Oaks

Oceanspray - Holodiscus discolor - loves open sites at low to middle elevations in our area (coastal Pacific Northwest). On southern Vancouver Island it can often be found in Garry Oak habitat -- like here on Mt. Tolmie in Victoria BC.

 

Oceanspray was a much-used plant by coastal First Nations people. Nancy Turner, writing in Pojar and McKinnon's classic Plants of Coastal British Columbia: including Washington, Oregon, and Alaska tells us the following:

" This shrub is commonly called 'ironwood',' a mame reflecting the hardness and strength of its wood. The wood was made even harder by heating it over a fire; it was then usually polished with horsetail stems. It was used to make digging sticks, spear and harpoon shafts, bows and arrow shafts by virtually all coastal groups from southern British Columbia southwards, including the Straits Salish, Halq'emeylem, Squamish, Sechelt and Kwak-waka'wakw. The Saanich and Cowichan used 'ironwood' for salmon-barbecuing stickes, inner bark scrapers, halibut hooks, cattail mat needles, and, recently, knitting needles. The Saanich, Stl'atl'imx and other groups steeped the brownish fruiting clusters of oceanspray in boiling water to make an infusion that was drunk for diarrhea, especially in children. This solution was also drunk for measles and chickenpox, and as a blood tonic."

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Taken on June 23, 2018