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Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society

Focusing on native plants and conservation in North Idaho

KNPS Arboretum

North Idaho 
Native Plant Arboretum
Sandpoint, Idaho

in Sandpoint's Lakeview Park, adjacent to the Historical Museum at 611 South Ella Avenue

An Ongoing Educational Project of Kinnikinnick Native Plant Society Volunteers

Founded 1999

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Plant Notes from the Arboretum

Seven unique North Idaho habitats have been created in our Arboretum...



Dry forests are most often characterized by somewhat shallow, rocky soils and are usually dominated by ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir or grand fir trees. The understory consists of such grasses as Idaho fescue, blue-bunch wheatgrass, and pinegrass; perennial forbs, including lupines; and such shrubs as serviceberry, ninebark, oceanspray, and common chokecherry.

Kinnikinnick is a common low shrub. This habitat occurs on ridges and slopes at lower to middle elevations, usually on southerly to westerly aspects.



Usually surrounded by forested habitats, dry rock habitats occur when plants establish themselves in soil deposited between rocks. Many plants found here are also found in dry forest and even moist forest habitats; however, some plants occur only when a dry rock habitat receives ample moisture in the spring before drying up in summer. Scarlet gilia, blanketflower, kitten tails, pearhip rose, ninebark, oceanspray, smooth sumac, wild yarrow and kinnikinnick are often found here.



Unique in north Idaho - and a result of warm, Pacific maritime weather patterns - interior rain forests support the wettest forest habitats in the state. An overstory of western redcedar and western hemlock towers over devils club, lady fern, maidenhair fern and oak fern. Many rare species occur in inland rain forests, including some you can see here in the Arboretum: beadruby, maidenhair spleenwort, northern beechfern, deerfern, purple meadowrue and white shooting star.



Dry to moist meadow habitats in north Idaho support Idaho fescue, blue wildrye, Junegrass, sticky geranium, lupines, goldenrod and other grasses and perennial forbs. Such shrubs as common chokecherry may occasionally occur.



In moist forests, a mixed overstory of various conifers provides shade to an understory of forbs, such as wild ginger, queencup, twin flower, pioneer violet and bunch­berry dogwood.  Sword fern may also be found here.  Such habitats occur in ephemeral draws and swales and on mountain slopes at lower to middle elevations.



These streamside habitats are found along perennial streams and large rivers, but may also occur on the mar­gins of such wetlands as ponds, fens and marshes. They may be forested with evergreens or with a mixture of evergreens and hardwoods (such as coyote willow, water birch, Sitka alder, thinleaf alder or the rare dwarf birch). Wet meadow habitats support tufted hairgrass and common camas (the latter having been an important traditional food for local Native Americans).



These habitats occur at middle to higher elevations, on mountain slopes, ridges and in draws. They also can be found at lower elevations in cold air drainages (often found in the Priest River area). Subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce often dominate forested habitats, with huckleberry, menziesia and mountain ash or alpine bluegrass and alpine timothy in the understory. The rare Sitka mistmaiden occurs on wet cliffs and ledges.  


Our Wild Medicinal area is a unique exhibit...

Located on the east side of the old log cabin, Wild Medicinals is our only exhibit not limited to native plants.  The reason is that many medicinal plants we think of as being "native" are not truly native, but instead were brought here by traders, colonists, soldiers, and native peoples.  As these plants have naturalized in the wild over the past few hundred years, many people think of them as being native to north Idaho.  Because of this history and the fact that many of these herbs are still used medicinally, some of these naturalized plants are included in this exhibit; however to separate them from the truly native plants, they are identified by a red dot on the label.