Ethnobotany and Cultural Resources Field Guide

Publication Number
M 3120
Publication Version
M 3120.01
Publication Date
Manual Manager
Scott Williams
Ethnobotany and Cultural Resources

Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between cultures and plants.

This condensed list of western Washington plants was created by Scott Clay-Poole, PhD.

Find information on plants in these categories:

  • Herbs
  • Shrubs/Trees
  • Conifers
  • Ferns & Fern-Allies
  • Lichens
  • Citations & References

The plants are listed by scientific name and common name. The plants are initially listed as those found at cultural sites along the right-of-way previous to highway safety improvements in the state of Washington.

None of the plants listed are recommended for use. But if plant material is utilized in some way by the viewer that individual species must be accurately identified by an expert and then used with caution. Various chemicals found within these plants can be metabolized differently by various individuals, some with adverse side effects. When planning to ingest or use topically, it is always advisable to test with a small amount of any new plant first.

A common additive to many of the foods listed herein as a preservative and seasoning is the rendered oil from the Eulachon (or Oolichan), the Candlefish. Raw and cooked berries, green sprouts, and cooked roots are often dipped in this oil, referred to as “grease”. Sometimes it is mixed right into the food; some fruits are stored in it.

Some plants are included because of interest and/or beauty and like the rest, may be susceptible to rapid decimation in local areas. Plants such as Tiger lily, Chocolate lily, and Calypso having edible bulbs necessitates destroying the entire plant for minimal sustenance.

Please think conservatively if you feel you need to “take” a plant.

166,800 electric vehicle

registrations in Washington in 2023, up from 114,600 in 2022.

87 wetland compensation sites

actively monitored on 918 acres in 2023.

25,000 safe animal crossings

in the Snoqualmie Pass East Project area since 2014.