Plants at the Johnston Wilderness Campus and their Uses
by Regina Wicks & Kyrié Thompson

Throughout history the flora of this area had a variety of uses from food to clothing to medicine.  The following list is just a few of the plants with human uses that are common and native to the Johnston Wilderness Campus.  In particular, these plants were chosen for their edible, material, or medicinal properties.   While this list is intended to introduce the variety of ways in which these plants have been used, it should not be considered a medicinal or edibles guide.

We have organized the uses into general categories and listed specific ailments in parenthesis for those with more medical knowledge.  We have also included a species list from the book, Trees and Flowers of the Blue Mountains by Sarah R. Blattler made for the college cabin, approximately 0.4 miles west of the Johnston Wilderness Campus.  For more information, check out the references section at the end of the page.

In the future, more plants and a greater variety of uses could be added to this list.  There are many plants that we do not discuss that surely have extensive uses, both historically and currently.  Additional information regarding material uses and spiritual significance would also add to the site.  In particular, research on the Native American tribes that might have inhabited the region and their connections to these plants would ground it even more in this place.  We were interested in creating awareness of what resources the natural flora provides; any further additions that allow people to do this would be beneficial.

American Chestnut (Castanea dentata, Mill)
Parts used leaves, inner bark
   Native Americans whooping cough, hiccoughs and other irritable and excitable conditions of respiratory organs, fever
   Folk Medicine arthritis, rheumatism, female bleeding, hemorrhoids, chronic inflammation of intestine

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Bigleaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum, Pursh):
Parts used wood, sap, seeds
Material uses furniture, paneling, veneer, maple syrup

Black Cottonwood (Populus angustifolis, James)

All trees in this genus have the following characteristics:
Parts used bark, leaves, buds
   Native American, 
precursor to aspirin, fever reducing, anti-inflammatory, substitute for quinine, mild urinary tract inflammations, diuretic, diarrhea
   Native American, 
ointment for burns and skin irritations, muscle aches, sprains and swollen joints

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Blackberry (Rubus villosus, A.T.):
Parts used root, berry, leaves
   Native American, 
gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, dysentery)
   Native American,  
hemorrhoids, sore mouth, inflamed throat
Food jelly, jam, jello, brandy, vinegar

Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum, L.)
Parts used young unfolded leaves, roots, tops
   Native American root eaten as a worm medicine
   Early Pioneers rickets in children, tapeworm, pumonary and hepatic diseases, spleen disorders
Food soup (Japanese)
Do not use extensively: has been shown to have negative effects in recent studies.

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Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii, (Mirb.) Franco)
Parts used roots, young needles, wood
Material uses tea rich in Vitamin C, lumber, baskets woven from roots (Native American)

Eastern Dogwood (Conus florida, L.)
Parts used dried bark
   Native American weakness of stomach and bowels, used in place of quinine
   Homeopathic clinical uses pneumonia and upset stomach (dyspepsia)

Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, L.):
(this is noted in Hutchens, species found was S. cerculea, Raf.)
Parts used roots, inner bark, leaves, berries, flowers
   Native American, 
headache due to colds, palsy, rheumatism, organ dysfunction (jaundice, liver 
derangement, kidney), syphilis, epilepsy, anemia
   Native American,  
skin disorders (erysipelas, etc. in children), swelling, tumors, joints, cuts, burns, scalds, cosmetic improvement for complexion, removing spots, allaying irritation, removing freckles, preserving and softening skin

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Mountain Alder (Alnus incana, L.):
Parts used bark, leaves, cones
   Native American, 
gastrointestinal problems (constipation, jaundice, diarrhea, dyspepsia, children’s worm medicine), gangrene, organ dysfunction (dropsy)
   Native American,  
skin problems (gangrene, indolent ulcers, relieve itching, Impetigo Psora, Prurigo) head lice, cleaning teeth, firming gums, Herpes, Syphilis, Rheumatism, gynecological problems (Ammenorrhoea, Leucorrhoea, Gleet, Hemorrhage)

Snowberry (Chionanthus virginica, L.)
Parts used root, bark
   Native American stomach and liver disorders, spleen malfunction, jaundice during pregnancy, colic, heartburn, malignant stomach tumors, bowels, or uterus
   Homeopathic clinical uses constipation, emaciation with liver disorder; gall-stones, headache, jaundice, malaria, complaints of nursing women

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Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus, Dougl.)
Parts used berries
Food jelly, tea from leaves and berries, fruit leather (Native American)
Material uses lining for cooking pits, foot wrap for storage (Native American)

Vine Maple (Acer circinatum, Pursh):
Parts used root
   Native American internal: syphilis,  mood problems (anti-mercurial), gastric system and salivary glands, breaks up adhesive inflammation and organized unwanted tissue, blood disorders, gout, rheumatism, stomach problems (dyspepsia)
   Homeopathic clinical uses good for backaches, itching, headache, swelling of the tongue

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Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata, Donn ex D. Don)
Parts used bark, wood
Material uses carved totem poles, split lumber for lodges, fibrous inner bark used for rope, roof thatching blankets, cloaks (all Native American)

Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense, L.)
Part used root
   Native American painful spasms of bowels and stomach; promotes perspiration in cases of colds, problems with the uterus during birth, whooping cough, and fevers, nauseated stomach
   Russian expectorant, jaundice, dropsy, promotes milk for nursing mother, heart trouble, lung tuberculosis, nerve excitement, migraine headache, laxative, heart palpitation, weakness and stamina in children, poisoning with mushrooms, leaves used for malaria

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List of plants from Trees and Flowers of the Blue Mountains:
Aceraceae - Maple Family
          Mountain Maple – Acer glabrum Torr
Apiaceae - Parsley Family
          Queen Ann’s Lace; Wild Carrot – Daucus carota L.
          Swale Desert Parsley – Lomatium ambiguum Coult. & Rose.
          Common Sweet Cicely – Osmorhiza chilenses H.& A. Bot.
Aristolchiaceae - Birthwort Family
          Wild Ginger – Asarum caudatum Lindl.
Berberidaceae - Barberry Family – Berberidaceae
          Oregon Grape – Berberis nervosa Pursh.
Betulaceae - Birch Family
          Alder – Alnus incana Moench
Brassicaceae - Mustard Family
          Little Western Bitter Cress – Cardamine oligosperma Nutt.
Boraginaceae - Borage Family
          Common Hound’s Toung – Cynoglossum officinale L.
          Wild Forget-Me-Not – Lithospermum avense L.
Caprifoliaceae - Honeysuckle Family
          Twin Flower – Linneae borealis L.
          Orange Honeysuckle – Lonicera ciloiosa Push.
          Blue Elderberry – Sambucus cerulea Raf.
Crassulaceae – Stonecrop Family
          Stonecrop – Sedum lanceolatum Torr.
          Meadow Chickweed – Cerastuim arvense L.
Compositeae – Daisy or Sunflower Family
          Yarrow – Achillae millefolium L.
          Trail Plant – Adenocaulen bicolor Hook.
          Wild Succory; Blue Sailors – Cichorium intybus L.
          Canada Thistle – Cirsium arvense Scop.
          Bull Thistle – Cirsium vulgare Airy-Shaw
          Yellow Salsify – Tangopogon dubius Scop.
Cupressaceae – Cypress Family
          Western Red Cedar – Thuja plicata Don
Dipsacaceae – Teasel Family
          Common Teasel; Gypsy-combs – Dipsacaceae sylvestris Huds
Fabaceae – Pea Family
          Everlasting Pea – Lathyrus latifolius L.
          Yellow Lupine - Lupinus subphureus Dougl.
          Purple Lupine – Lupinus leucophyllus Dougl.
          Sweet Clover – Melilotus officinalis L.
          Yellow Pea; False Lupine – Thermopsis montana Nutt.
          Red Clover; Purple Clover – Trifolium pratense L.
          White Clover – Trifolium repens L.
 Fumariaceae – Fumitory Family
          Dutchman’s Breeches – Dicentra cucullaria Bernh. Linnaea
Hydrangeaceae – Hydrangea Family
          Mock Orange – Philadelphus lewisii Pursh.
Hydrophyllaceae – Waterleaf Family
          Dwarf Hesperochiron – Hesperochiron pumilus Griseb.
          Ball Head Waterleaf – Hydrophyllum capitatium Dougl.
          Silverleaf Phacelia – Phacelia hastata Dougl.
          Common Phacelia – Phacelia linearis Pursh.
Hypericaceae – St. John’s Wort Family
          St. John’s Wort; Klamathweed – Hypericum perforatum L.
Lamiaceae – Mint Family
          Red Dead-nettle – Lamium purpureum L.
          Catnip – Nepeta cataria L.
          Common Mint – Prunella vulgaris L.
Lilaceae – Lily Family
          Wild Onion – Allum couglasii Hook
          Brodieae – Brodieae douglasii Wats.
          Elegant Cat’s Ears -  Calochortus elegans Pursh.
          Bride’s Bonnet; Queen’s Cup – Clintonia uniflora Schult.
          Fairy Bells – Disporum hookeri Torr.
          False Solomon’s Seal -  Smilacina racemose L.
          Star Salomon’s Seal – Smilacina stellata L.
          Paniceled Death Camus – Zigadenus paniculatus Wats.
Onagraceae – Evening Primrose Family
          Enchanter’s Nightshade – Circaea alpina L.
          Pink Fairies; Deer Horn; Ragged Robin – Clarkia pulchella Pursh.
          Fireweed; Blooming Sally – Epilobium angustifolium L.
Orchidaceae – Orchid Family
          Venus Slipper; Fairy Slipper – Calypso bulbosa L.
Pinaceae – Pine Family
          Douglas Fir – Pseudosuga menziesii Franco.
          Grand Fir – Abies grandis Lindl.
          Ponderosa  Pine – Pinus ponderosa Dougl.
          Tamarack – Larix occidentalis Nutt.
Plantaginaceae – Plantain Family
          English Plantain – Plantago hirtella H.B.K.
          Common Plantain; Nippleseed – Plantago major L.
Polemoniaceae – Phlox Family
          Phlox – Collomonia grandiflora Dougl.
Polygonaceae – Buckwheat Family
          Indian Tobacco – Rumex conglomeratus Mur. Prod. Stirp. Gott.
Polypodiaceae – Fern Family
          Oak Fern – Gymnocarpium dryopteris L.
          Sword Fern – Polystichum munitum Presl.
          Bracken Fern – Pteridium aguilinum Kuhn.
Portulacadeae – Purslane Family
          Broad-leaved Montia – Montia cordifolia Pax & Hoffm.
          Indian Lettuce – Montia perforliata Howell
          Shooting Star – Dodecatheon jeffreyi van Houtte
Ranunculaceae - Buttercup Family
          Monkshood – Aconitum columbianum A. Nels. var. ochroleucum
          Columbine – Aguilegia formosa Fisch.
          Lyall’s Anemone – Anemone piperi Britt.
          Nuttall’s Larkspur – Delpiniom nuttallianum var. fulouom C.L. Hitchc.
          Buttercup – Ranunculaceae acris L.
          Buttercup – Ranunculareae eschscholtzii var. suksdorfii Benson
Rhamnaceae – Buckhorn Family
          Cascara; Chitum – Rhamnus purshiana D.C.
Rosaceae – Rose Family
          Western Serviceberry – Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt.
          Wild Strawberry - Fragaria vesca L.
          Avens – Geum macrophyllum Willd.
          Oceanspray - Holodiscus discolor Maxim
          Cinquefoil – Potentilla norvegica L.
          Nootka Rose; Wild Rose -  Rosa nutkana Presl.
          Evergreen Blackberry – Rubus laciniatus Willd.
          Blackcap; Black Raspberry – Rubus leucodermis Dougl.
          Thimbleberry – Rubus parviflorus Nutt.
          Himalayan Blackberry – Rubus procerus Muell.
          Pacific Blackberry – Rubus urisinus Cham. & Shlecht.
          White Spiraea - Spiraea betulifolia Dougl.
Rubiaceae – Madder Family
          Bed Straw – Glium aparine L.
Salicaceae – Willow Family
          Black Cottonwood – Populus angustifolis James
Saxifragaceae – Saxifrage Family
          Fringe Cup – Lithophragam glabra Nutt.
          Prarie Star – Lithophragma pariflorum Hook. Nutt.
          Angle-leaf Mitrewort – Mitella ovalis Green, Pitt.
          False Mitrewort – Tiarella trifoliata L.
Scrophulariaceae – Figwort of Snapdragon Family
          Indian Paintbrush – Castilleja hispida Benth.
          Maided Blue-eyed Mary – Collinsia prviflora Lindl.
          Mudwort – Limosella aquatica L.
          Monkey Flower – Mimulus glabratus H.B.K. Nov.
          Hot Rock Penstemon – Penstemon deustus Dougl.
          Moth Mullein – Verbascum blattaria L.
          Wooly Mullein – Verbascum thapsus L.
Solanaceae – Nightshade Family
          Bittersweet Nightshade; Deadly Nightshade – Solanum dulcamara L.
Taxaceae – Yew Family
          Western Yew -  Taxis brevifolia Nutt.
Uticaceae – Nettle Family
          Stinging Nettle – Utrica diocica L.
Violaceae – Violet Family
          Blue Violet – Biola adunca Sm., Baker
          Stream Violet – Viola glavella Glabella

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Benoliel, Doug, 1988, Northwest foraging: a guide to edible plants in the Pacific Northwest: Edmonds, WA, Signpost Publications.

Blattler, Sarah, 1992, Trees and Flowers of the Blue Mountains: Walla Walla, WA, Whitman College.

Carson, Robert, Fall 1999, Personal communication, Professor of Geology and Environmental Studies, Whitman College.

Dobson, Heidi, Fall 1999, Personal communication, Professor of Biology, Whitman College.

Drabek, Charles, Fall 1999, Personal communication, Professor of Biology, Whitman College.

Hutchens, Alma, 1991, Indian herbology of North America: Boston, Shambhala Publications, Inc.

Johnson, Charles G., 1998, Common plants of the inland Pacific Northwest: USDA - Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region.

Moore, Michael, 1979, Medicinal plants of the mountain West: Santa Fe, The Museum of New Mexico Press.

Pojar, Jim and Andy MacKinnon, 1994, Plants of the Pacific Northwest coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska: Vancouver, B.C., Lone Pine Publishing.

Stewart, Hilary, 1981, Wild teas, coffees, and cordials: Vancouver, B.C., Douglas and McIntyre Ltd.

Umatilla National Forest,

Umatilla National Forest,

Whitney, Stephen, 1985, Western forests: New York, Alfred A. Knopf Inc.


All pictures were taken from various sites on the World Wide Web to allow the readers an idea of what these plants look like.

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