[The Rose Family in the Columbia River Gorge]

Creambush Ocean Spray, Ocean-spray, Indian Arrowwood

Holodiscus discolor

The photo above shows a close-up of the inflorescence of ocean spray as seen from Catherine Creek, central Columbia River Gorge..........................June 3, 2006.


Ocean spray is an attractive shrub with many erect or spreading stems and numerous sprays of pendant flowers. It is well suited for use in the woodland garden. The stems arise 1-3 meters in height, and the branches are slender, angled, and often arching. The bark is a deep grayish-red. The leaves alternate on the stems. The petioles are 10-15 mm long and the blades are 3-10 cm long. The blades are ovate to ovate-lanceolate with a rounded base and 15-25 shallow lobes which are coarsely toothed.

The numerous flowers are found in diffuse panicle from 10-17 cm long. The flowers are each about 5 mm wide, the petals barely exceeding the sepals. The petals are white or cream colored.


 Native Americans used the straight hardwood of the branches for arrow shafts, and the fruits were also eaten. The leaves and stems are heavily browsed on winter ranges. Ocean spray may also be used as an ornamental native shrub.


Ocean spray is found on gravelly or rocky soils from coastal bluffs to open to moist upland forests.


The photos above show the dorsal leaf surface (left) and ventral leaf surface (right) of ocean-spray. Photographed at Catherine Creek..................June 3, 2006.


Ocean spray may be found west of the Cascade Mountains from British Columbia south to southern California. It may be found east to western Montana, northern Idaho, and northeastern Oregon.

It may be found in the Columbia River Gorge between the elevations of 100'-4000' from the western mouth of the gorge to as far east as Lyle, WA.

The photo above shows ocean-spray as photographed at Catherine Creek..................June 3, 2006.

Paul Slichter