bright pink flowers emerge from a low mat of green leaves
The bright pink flowers of smooth Douglasia rise only an inch or two above a dense mat of green leaves, an adaptation for growing in rocks high in the mountains.

From massive conifers over 20 stories tall, to minute clumps of pink Douglasia prying a life out of rocky peaks, the Olympic Peninsula and Olympic National Park boast an amazing diversity of plant life.

Over 1,450 types of vascular plants grow on the Peninsula, nearly the same number as the British Isles—an area 30 times larger. In addition, hundreds of species of non-vascular mosses, liverworts and hornworts also live here.

Why So Much Diversity?
The park and surrounding Olympic Peninsula have snowy peaks that plunge to mist-shrouded coast. Misty temperate rain forest on the west side, lies only 34 miles from dry oak savanna in the rain shadow northeast of the mountains. These quick changes in elevation and precipitation mean a lot of different habitats are crowded into the area.

Click below to learn more about some of the typical vegetation at different elevations.

Though they are not true plants, many types of fungi and lichens also grow in these habitats.

Some of Olympic's plant species are not native to this area, see Invasive Exotic Plants to learn more.

green understory in open rain forest with straight, mossy trunks
Moss and Oregon oxalis paint the understory green amid Sitka spruce in the rain forest.

Last updated: September 29, 2020

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