Holodiscus discolor

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"Oceanspray" redirects here. For other uses, see Ocean Spray (disambiguation).
Holodiscus discolor
Holodiscus discolor 3007.JPG
Holodiscus discolor flowers (Anacortes, Washington)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Rosales
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Holodiscus
Species: H. discolor[1]
Binomial name
Holodiscus discolor
(Pursh) Maxim.
  • Holodiscus ariifolius (Sm.) Greene
  • Holodiscus franciscanus (Rydb.) Rehder
  • Schizonotus argenteus var. ariifolius (Sm.) Kuntze
  • Schizonotus argenteus var. discolor (Pursh) Kuntze
  • Schizonotus ariifolius (Sm.) Greene
  • Schizonotus discolor (Pursh) Raf.
  • Sericotheca discolor (Pursh) Rydb.
  • Sericotheca franciscana Rydb.
  • Spiraea ariifolia Sm.
  • Spiraea discolor Pursh
  • Thecanisia discolor (Pursh) Raf.

Holodiscus discolor, commonly known as ocean spray[3] or oceanspray,[4] creambush[3] or ironwood, is a shrub of western North America.[5] It is common in the Pacific Northwest where it is found in both openings and the forest understory at low to moderate elevations.


Leaves are 5-9 cm long and 4-7 cm broad (Anacortes, Washington).

Holodiscus discolor is a fast-growing deciduous shrub growing to 5 m tall. Its alternate[6] leaves are small, 5–9 cm long and 4–7 cm broad, lobed, juicy green when new. Cascading clusters of white flowers drooping from the branches give the plant its two common names. The flowers have a faint sweet, sugary scent. It bears a small, hairy fruit containing one seed which is light enough to be dispersed by wind.


Historically the plant has been used for many purposes. The Lummi used the flowers as an antidiarrheal and the leaves as a poultice. Many other tribes used the wood and bark for making tools and furniture. Noted for the strength of its wood, it was often used for making digging sticks, spears, arrows, bows, harpoons and nails. The wood, like with many other plants, was often hardened with fire and was then polished using horsetail. Several Native tribes, such as the Stl'atl'imx, would steep the berries in boiling water to use as a treatment for diarrhea, smallpox, chickenpox and as a blood tonic.[5][7]


Holodiscus discolor, is found in a variety of habitats, from wet coastal forests to drier, cooler mountains further inland. It tends to grow in areas dominated by Douglas-fir. The plant is found in areas prone to wildfire, and it is often the first green shoot to spring up in an area recovering from a burn. It is commonly found in chaparral communities, which burn periodically. It also may grow in areas cleared by logging.

Holodiscus discolor is common in a variety of forest overstories. In the case of California black oak woodland, common understory associate species include western poison-oak, toyon and coastal wood fern.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ M. Casebeer (2004) Discover California Shrubs. Sonora, California: Hooker Press. ISBN 0-9665463-1-8
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  3. ^ a b USDA Plants Profile (2008)
  4. ^ "BSBI List 2007". Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland. Archived from the original (xls) on 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  5. ^ a b Pojar, Jim; Andy MacKinnon (1994). Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Lone Pine Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 1-55105-042-0. 
  6. ^ Jepson Manual, 1993
  7. ^ Pojar; J, MacKinnon, A.; Alaback, P., et al. 1956/1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia & Alaska, ISBN 978-1-55105-530-5
  8. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) California Black Oak Quercus kelloggii, Globaltwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg

External links[edit]