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Oemleria cerasiformis (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)
Oemleria cerasiformis (photo courtesy of Mark Turner)

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Zones 4-9, 14-24
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Full, Partial, Shade
Ample Water

Oemleria cerasiformis

Oso Berry, Indian Plum
Deciduous, Shrubs, Trees, Flowers

In damp woodlands and meadows in the Northwest and in parts of California, oso berry’s tiny, almond-scented white flowers are among the first signs of spring. This is a fine-textured, suckering shrub that grows to 3–15 ft. tall, eventually spreading into thickets that become 12 ft. wide or more. Lance-shaped leaves are dark green on top, gray-green and slightly fuzzy beneath. Crushed leaves have a fresh scent like that of cucumbers. Bell-shaped, fragrant blooms in drooping clusters up to 4 in. long appear with the foliage, which emerges very early in the year. Male and female plants are separate; if a male is nearby, females will bear small (less than 1/2 in. long) blue-black fruits that are relished by birds and other wildlife. Nice addition to a shrub border or woodland planting. To keep the plant looking its best, remove some of the oldest stems after bloom. Or revive an old, overgrown shrub by cutting it back almost to the ground.

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