ECOSS has been working with communities to restore a habitat site at Seward Park. The site was previously covered in Himalayan Blackberries, which are a non-native species that out-competes understory vegetation and makes it difficult for trees to grow due to the thick foliage. According to kingcounty.gov, the Himalayan blackberry is a Class C noxious weed. Although control of Himalayan Blackberry is not required, it is recommended in protected wilderness areas and in natural lands that are being restored to native vegetation because of the invasiveness of these species.
Last summer, ECOSS invited immigrant, refugee, and BIPOC communities to come together for a work party to restore the land and clear out Himalayan Blackberries at a site in Seward. This month, 14 adults and 3 youths from the community came together with ECOSS and Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust for a planting event. The day included reflection on how we can form impactful connections to the land, forming new relationships with staff and community, and planting native trees and shrubs to restore the land. By the end of the event, about 135 native plants had been planted at the site. Community members were also invited to take a native plant with them to plant at home.
I was mindful when ordering the plants for this project– typically in restoration work there isn’t a lot of variety or diversity in the plants that are planted, so I took this opportunity to incorporate plants of importance that most people don’t typically see or work with. It affirms my passion to grow this impact area in our organization and to be able to provide more opportunities to our community to steward the land whether it’s in a leisurely setting or a skilled professional setting.Miranda perez, Senior Program Manager
Here are 14 native species that ECOSS planted with the community at Seward Park
Compiled by Miranda Perez, ECOSS Senior Program Manager, with information from Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon.
- Red alder, alnus rubra—large deciduous; considered the best wood for smoking salmon and other fish and valued for its medicinal qualities in making a tonic for tuberculosis and respiratory ailments; improves disturbed soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen into the soil
- Cascara, rhamnus purshiana—tall shrub/small tree; the bark was boiled and drunk as a strong laxative tea by Nuxalk, Coast Salish, Quilete, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw and other groups. It has been scientifically proven to be an effective laxative
- Shore pine, pinus contorta—large conifer; The Haida used peeled sheets of the bark as splints for broken limbs; Also used medicinally by Nuxalk, Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, Haida, Tsimshian, and Tlingit as gum, and applied to cuts as well as the skin to treat heart pain and rheumatism.
- Western red cedar, thuja plicata—large conifer; Trees of life are held with high respect for their healing and spiritual powers by west coast peoples; cedars were extraordinarily useful to indigenous people of PNW and played key roles culturally, providing for the people from birth to death, cradles to coffins.
- Oregon grape, mahonia nervosa—yellow blooms; the tart berries were eaten (with great caution as they are very potent) in a mixture with salal berries or other sweet fruit, or medicinally for liver, gall bladder, and eye problems; the bark was used to make a bright yellow dye for basket materials
- Twinberry, lonicera involucrate—yellow blooms; the blackberries are not considered edible and often considered taboo as the Kwakwaka’wakw believed eating them would cause one to become unable to speak; The Quileute and Kwakwaka’wakw used the berries as a black pigment, and the Haida rubbed the berries on their scalp to prevent grey hairs.
- Salal, gaultheria shallon—white/pink blooms; the dark juicy berries were important to many groups eaten fresh and dried into cakes; young leaves were chewed as a hunger suppressant by the Ditidaht.
Herbs and Flowers:
- Entire leaved gumweed, grindelia integrifolia—yellow bloom; important to many Coast Salish peoples, used medicinally to treat asthma, bronchitis, colic.; great pollinator plant
- Goatsbeard, aruncus diocius—white blooms; the Tlingit and Makah prepared the root for curing diseases of the blood (commonly gonorrhea); the Lummi chewed the leaves to help cure smallpox; An infusion of the roots was given to Squamish women just before giving birth to help heal; other parts of the plant were steeped and bathed in to help with swelling.
- Oregon sunshine, eriophyllum lanatum—yellow blooms; great pollinator plant
- Pearly everlasting, anaphalis margaritacea—white blooms; Ditidaht healers rubbed this plant on their hands to soften them; the Nlaka’pamux used this plant in an influenza medicine.
- Slender cinquefoil, potentilla gracilis—yellow blooms; used as a food by most coastal groups; patches of cinquefoil were traditionally owned by certain chiefs of Nuu-chah-nulth, Kwakwaka’wakw, and Haida; the roots were dug out by women in the late fall/early spring and were steamed to remove bitter flavor, once cooked they tasted similar to a sweet potato.
Grasses and Ferns:
- Tufted hairgrass, deschampsia cespitosa—structure/host plant; grasses are important ecological structures since they provide necessary food, shelter, and life cycle completion for many animals and species; their root system aids in preventing erosion and flooding.
- Lady fern, athyrium filix-femina—structure/host plant; similar to grasses they are important ecological structures; the leaves were used by coastal groups for covering food, laying out food, and drying berries on; the fiddleheads were eaten in early spring by boiling, baking, or raw with grease.
This Environmental Stewardship program is made possible by the support of Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and Green Seattle Partnership.