E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Holodiscus discolor (Pursh) Maxim.
oceanspray (creambush)
Rosaceae (Rose family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Andrea Paetow  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #19763)

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Distribution of Holodiscus discolor
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Holodiscus discolor var. discolor

Species Information

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Medium to tall shrub, 1-4 m tall; stems slender, erect to ascending, usually arching, hairy, the young stems ridged, older ones with reddish-grey, peeling bark.
Alternate, deciduous, dull green, egg-shaped to broadly triangular, 3-6 (10) cm long, coarsely toothed or shallowly pinnately lobed, often with minute, abruptly pointy-tipped, secondary teeth, squared-off to wedge-shaped at the base, on stalks 10-15 mm long, the upper surface green and coarse-hairy to smooth, the lower surface paler, strongly veined and soft-hairy.
Inflorescences diffuse, terminal, pyramidal, somewhat drooping clusters 10-17 cm long, of numerous small (3-5 mm across), short-stalked flowers; corollas white to cream, the petals 5, oval, 1.5-2 mm long; calyces deeply 5-lobed, the lobes about 1.5 mm long, short-hairy on the outer surface; ovaries superior, hairy; stamens about 20.
Achenes, 5, tiny (about 2 mm long), light brown, long-stiff-hairy; fruit clusters turning brown and remaining on the plants over the winter.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present from Summer to Fall
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry to mesic bluffs, rocky slopes, clearings, thickets, forest edges and open forests in the lowland to montane zones; common in S BC, disjunct in Bella Coola valley; S to ID, MT and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Holodiscus discolor

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 1 607 1540
Slope Gradient (%) 0 35 150
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 203 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BG(1), CDF(175), CWH(43), ICH(267), IDF(192), MS(9), PP(16)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, submontane to montane, Western North American deciduous shrub distributed equally in the Pacific and Cordilleran regions. Occurs in cool temperate and cool mesothermal climates on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-medium soils; its occurrence decreases with increasing elevation, precipitation, and latitude. Scattered to plentiful in open and open-canopy, seral (usually Douglas-fir) forests on disturbed, water-shedding sites. Often associated with Mahonia nervosa and Kindbergia oregana. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool mesothermal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Holodiscus boursieri (Carr.) Rehd.
Holodiscus discolor subsp. franciscanus (Rydb.) Taylor & MacBryde
Holodiscus discolor var. ariaefolius (Sm.) Asch. & Graebn.
Holodiscus discolor var. delnortensis Ley
Holodiscus discolor var. franciscanus (Rydb.) Jepson
Holodiscus discolor var. glabrescens (Greenm.) Jepson
Holodiscus dumosus subsp. saxicola (A. Heller) Abrams
Holodiscus dumosus var. australis (A. Heller) Ley
Holodiscus dumosus var. glabrescens (Greenm.) C.L. Hichc.
Holodiscus glabrescens (Greenm.) A. Heller
Holodiscus microphyllus Rydb.
Holodiscus microphyllus var. glabrescens (Greenm.) Ley
Holodiscus microphyllus var. microphyllus Rydb. [superfluous autonym]
Holodiscus microphyllus var. sericeus Ley
Holodiscus microphyllus var. typicus Ley
Sericotheca discolor (Pursh) Rydb.
Spiraea discolor Pursh

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References