PNW Landscape Plant Guide

brought to you by the plant geeks at Calendula Farm

Osoberry (Oemleria cerasiformis)

A.k.a. Indian Plum, this Pacific NW native shrub is another indicator that spring is about to sproing. Actually, we think of it as an indicator that the Flowering Red Currants are about to pop. Either way, it’s a noble role to be harbinger of these two events.

Osoberry flushes with blooms in very late winter into very early spring, just as its leaves are emerging.. Branches sprout drooping clusters of white blooms. Each floret emerges from a bright green calyx. The color combo is bright and fresh, and, well, springy.

New leaves start out packed together and standing straight up as a unit making the plant look like a candelabra. Over days, each leaf bends away from the group and down. Then it’s a green leafy shrub providing bird habitat till winter.

Flowers feed hungry over-wintered hummingbirds and early bees. Fruit looks like 3/4 inch apricots and turn dark purple when ripe. Ripe does not necessarily mean good. They’re a little bitter and more pit than flesh but some people like them. Birds and small mammals love them. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. You need both to get fruit, but the blooms alone make this shrub worth having in your yard.

Osoberry typically gets 6 to 8 feet tall in an urban environment, taller in the wild. It wants to grow into a dense cluster of stems. Great to soften a distant corner of a yard or along a property line.