Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
LAT 262
Course Title:
Native Plants of Oregon
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Covers common native plants of Oregon and their environmental requirements. Explores plant communities in Oregon. Introduces adaptations of native plants and their uses in traditional landscapes and restoration projects. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Requirements include Saturday field trips around state for hands-on field identification. Check schedule for dates. Audit available. This is an introductory plant identifications course. The class covers plants from four botanical zones in Oregon, Willamette Valley, Oregon Coast, Cascade Mountains and Central Oregon. The emphasis is on describing plants in relationship to the plant community they occupy in nature.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon  completion of the course students should be able to:

  1. Identify major plant communities in Oregon.
  2. Explain the role of geology, natural and manmade forces and climate in the formation of plant communities.
  3. Identify and explain the concept of plant associations and the location of plants within a plant community.
  4. Demonstrate a basic working knowledge of "climax" and "sub-climax" phases of plant community development.
  5. Identify common native plants of Oregon in relationship to their plant communities.
  6. Use the requirements of a given plant's "plant community" as a basis for selecting that plant for ornamental and restoration plantings.

Course Activities and Design


Labs - This course utilizes field trips to actual botanical sites to identify Oregon native plants, and determine first hand the features of the plant's environment that allow it to thrive in its location. Lectures will give primary information that can then be verified on site.

Course project.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment for this class is in the form of a term project and on field participation with the class. The project will require the student to document a minimum of 30 (thirty) native plants along with a detailed accounting of the environment where the plant was growing and a source of information on the plant. The content will include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Plant Family
  • Full Scientific and Common Name(s)
  • Location Where Observed: including plant community type
  • Exposure
  • Soil and/or growing medium and moisture
  • Physical description of plant
  • Growing habit
  • Abundance: rate of occurrence in community
  • Information source

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

1.0 Oregon geographic zones
    1.1.1 Describe the major geographic zones of Oregon
        A. Oregon Coast
        B. Coast range
        C. Siskiyou Mountains
        D. Willamette Valley
        E. Cascade Mountains and foothills
        F. Columbia Plateau
        G. Blue Mountains
        H. Wallowa Mountains
        I. High Lava Plateau
        J. High Desert
         1.1.2  Explain how the effects of geologic history, geology and climate within geographic areas create plant     biomes.
2.0 Plant Communities
    2.1.1 Define the term "plant community"
    2.1.2 Explain the difference between plant community and plant associations.
    2.1.3 Describe how climatic and environmental variations impact plant communities including:
        a. elevation
        b. sun/shade exposure; slope exposures
        c. wind patterns
        d. yearly precipitation regimes
        e. soil characteristics
        f. degree of slope; drainage
        g. impacts of fire, animals, man
        h. amount of surface cover
3.0 Plant Associations
    3.1.1 Explain how and why plants within a given plant community form associations.
    3.2.2  Within a plant association explain the layering effects that form layers:
        a. herbaceous
        b. ground cover
        c. shrub
        d. understory
        e. overstory
4.0 Native plant identification
    4.1.1 Be able to identify native plants and determine the elements of the growing environment that the plants are     taking advantage of.
    4.1.2 Document and develop a report on the plant information
    4.1.3 In the field, study the plants and their associations for the following botanical zones:
        a. Willamette Valley
        b. Oregon Coast
        c. Cascade Mountains: north-central zone
        d. High lava plateau - sagebrush region