Getting Started with Native Plants

Oxbow’s native plant experts have gathered a collection of helpful resources for those wanting to identify, garden with, and learn more about native plants. The list below is by no means exhaustive, but will help point you in the right direction as you begin your journey to understand more about Washington’s native plants. 

Gardening With Native Plants | Plant Identification | Propagating Native Plants

Gardening with Native Plants

Print Resources

Real Gardens Grow Natives, by Eileen M Stark, 2014.

Encyclopedia of Northwest Native Plants for Gardens and Landscapes. Kathleen A. Robson, Alice Richter & Marianne Filbert, (out of print, but sometimes can be found used) Timber Press, Oregon, 2008

Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest, by Arthur R Kruckeberg and Linda Chalker-Scott, 2019.

Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada, by William Cullina, 2000.

Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest, by Russell Link, 1999.

Native Plants in the Coastal Garden: A guide for gardeners in the Pacific Northwest, by April Pettinger, 1996.


WA Native Plant Society native gardening page

A large collection of resources about plant choices, landscaping, and wildlife gardening.

King County Native Plant Resource Page

A collection of many resources, including a guide to choosing natives for your yard, sample landscape plans, and lists of native plant sales and nurseries in King County

Native Plant Identification

Regional Field Guides

Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon , British Columbia & Alaska, Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, 2004

Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest, by Mark Turner and Phyllis Gustafson, 2006

Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest, by Mark Turner and Ellen Kuhlmann, 2014

Wild Plants of Greater Seattle, by Arthur Lee Jacobson, 2001

Plants of Southern Interior British Columbia and the Inland Northwest, by Roberta Parish, Ray Coupe, and Dennis Lloyd, 1996 (helpful for eastern WA)

Alpine Plants of the Northwest: Wyoming to Alaska, by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon, 2013 (helpful for high elevations)

Flora of the Pacific Northwest: An Illustrated Manual, by C. Leo Hitchcock, Arthur Cronquist, and David Giblin, 2018.

Winter Twigs: A Wintertime Key to Deciduous Trees and Shrubs of Northwestern Oregon and Western Washington, Helen M. Gilkey and Patricia L. Packarg, 2001.

Winter in the Woods: A Winter Guide to Deciduous Native Plants in Western Washington, Native Plant Salvage Project:WSU Cooperative Extension Thurston County, MISC0274, 2013

General Plant ID

Plant Identification Terminology: an Illustrated Glossary, by James G Harris and Melinda W. Harris, 2001.

Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification, by Thomas J. Elpel, 2013

Websites & Apps

Washington Wildflowers App

Images, range and species information for 870 of WA wildflower, shrub and vine species. Once downloaded, it doesn’t need an internet connection and has a handy search feature to help narrow down a plant identification in the field. Created by UW Burke Museum and High Country Apps, the app is available for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire.         

WA Native Plant Society (WNPS) Plant Lists

This newly updated tool allows you to search plant lists from various hikes, parks and natural areas throughout Washington. It is a great tool to narrow down what you might see when botanizing in a certain area, or when trying to find a spot to observe a certain species.

Burke Museum Herbarium (WTU) Image Collection

A huge collection of images with basic species descriptions and distribution information on WA state plants. Search by scientific or common names.  Use the Plant Identification Key (down on the left side menu) to narrow down a plant id search using a small number of simple prompts.

Washington Flora Checklist

Useful for finding the most up-to-date plant names for WA state; searchable by current or former plant name. This resource will match the nomenclature used in the recent Flora of the Pacific Northwest, published in summer 2018.

Propagating Native Plants

Print Resources

Growing and Propagating Wildflowers of the United States and Canada, by William Cullina, 2000.

Making More Plants: The Science, Art and Joy of Propagation, by Ken Druse, 2012

American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques, Alan Toogood, 1999

Collecting Processing and Germinating Seeds of Wildland Plants, by Cheryl G. Young and James A. Young, 1986

Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants, by Robin Rose, Caryn E.C. Chachulski, and Diane L. Haase, 1998.

The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation, by Michael A Dirr and Charles W. Heuser, 2012.


Propagation Successes and Lessons Learned: A wonderful and helpful article on PNW native propagation by Jeanie Taylor, a good starting point

Native Plant Propagation Protocol Database:  A very comprehensive resource with protocols written by professional growers across the United States

Woody Plant Seed Manual: Very detailed information by woody plant genus, including seed collection, cleaning, treatments and nursery culture of native trees and shrubs of North America

Tribal Nursery Manual: This manual is geared towards smaller nurseries, and includes lots of great information on techniques ranging from low to high tech

UW Native Plant Propagation Protocols: Includes many protocols for WA state species created by students in a native plant propagation class at UW

Native Seed Production Manual for the Pacific Northwest [PDF]: Created by the Plant Materials Center in Corvallis, this manual focuses on field growing herbaceous natives for seed, but has some good information on dormancy, germination treatments, and general cultural info for many prairie/meadow species.

Seedling Identification Guide for common plants on Mt Rainier and North Cascades [PDF]: A manual created by a UW student, with great photos of cotyledons and early seedlings for a number of species, also includes a great guide to growing natives from seed at the end of the manual