Hardhack’s flowers make plant pretty in pink

May 22, 2007 

    Scientific name: Spiraea douglasii
    Where found: Low, damp places such as stream banks and meadows from southeastern Alaska to northern California and over to northwest Montana
    Places to look: Maritime Heritage Park in Bellingham

Hardhack’s standout feature is its long clusters of fuzzy-looking flowers that are pink to deep rose in color.

Also known as Douglas meadowsweet, western spiraea and hardhack spiraea, this shrub grows quickly to heights of 2 feet to 6 feet. The flowers bloom beginning in June.

Hardhack’s leaves are green and shiny on top, grayish and fuzzy underneath.

The shrub can grow into dense thickets that black-tail deer like to nibble.

Native people of the Pacific Northwest coast also found some use for hardhack.

The Nuu-chah-nulth people used the twigs to make a broom-like tool to collect dentalia shells, which were used as currency among the region’s coastal people.

Sources: Local naturalist Rae Edwards; “Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast,” by Jim Pojar and Andy MacKinnon; National Wildlife Federation’s eNature.com; “Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest,” by Mark Turner and Phyllis Gustafson; Lora L. Esser writing for U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fire Effects Information System.

Reach Kie Relyea at kie.relyea@bellinghamherald.com or 715-2234.

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