5 Heritage Trees of Portland

5 Heritage Trees of Portland

ITCheritage treeThe Pacific Northwest is well known for its expansive forests and lush green landscape. Hundreds of thousands of plant species thrive in our damp, mild climate.

Portland, specifically, is home to many trees that are rare and historical. We hold immense value in these trees and protect them vigilantly. In May of 1993, the City of Portland enacted an ordinance that identifies and protects particularly significant trees in the area. These trees are of special importance to the city because of their age, size, type, historical association or horticultural value. The Heritage Tree ordinance holds a list of 114 species and 311 trees. Listed below are the first five to become Heritage Trees and are also considered historical landmarks.

1. American Elm (Ulmus Americana). This deciduous tree is more commonly found east of the rocky mountains and thrives in floodplains and swampy grounds. The American elm is a particularly hardy tree, withstanding winter temperatures as low as −44 °F. As longs as these trees remain unaffected by Dutch elm disease, they can live for several hundred years. This specific American Elm was planted in 1870. It is 78 feet tall and its canopy spreads 105 feet wide. Location: 1111 SW 10th Ave.

2. London Planetree (Platanus x acerifolia).  This deciduous tree is generally considered to be a hybrid of the oriental plane and the American sycamore. It’s first occurrence was recorded in Spain in the 17th century where an oriental planetree and an American sycamore grew near one another. It’s leaves are maple-like and it bares little seed balls covered in stiff, thorny hairs that help disperse the wind. This London Planetree was planted next to the Sylvester Farrell house in 1880. It is 65 feet tall and its canopy spans 95 feet. Location: The Northwest corner of SW Park and SW Main Street.

  • Coincidentally, we were recently hired as certified arborists by the City of Portland to trim this tree. A low hanging branch was encroaching into traffic and being caught by trucks, which would undoubtedly cause it to break eventually. In collaboration with the city arborist, we were able to perform minimal trimmings (which is crucial to trees of this age) and removed the branch while preserving as much of the canopy as possible.

3. Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera). This is a characteristically large deciduous tree of the magnolia family. It is more frequent in the Eastern U.S. and commonly grows to 165 feet in height. There have been unconfirmed reports of tulip trees reaching 200 feet. They are known for their large yellow flowers resembling tulips, although they are not related. This tulip tree was planted in the 1890s. It is 72 feet tall and its canopy is 65 feet wide. Location: 1403 NE Weidler St.

4. Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana). This deciduous tree, commonly called the Garry Oak, is the only oak tree native to Oregon. It grows west of the Cascade Mountains, in the Willamette, Umpqua and Rogue River Valleys, and along the Columbia River Gorge. The Oregon white oak is often found hosting growths called galls that are created by wasps. This Garry Oak is privately owned, 40 feet tall and twice as wide. Location: 2137 SE 32nd Place.

5. Austrian pine (Pinus nigra). This is a large coniferous evergreen tree, that can grow up to 180 feet tall at maturity. It is more commonly found in the mediterranean region. Its needles are thin and flexible and it produces cones that appear in the spring and release seed in the winter. The Austrian pine can be very long-lived, with some trees living for over 500 years. It is believed that this Austrian pine was planted in the late 1800s by one of Portland’s first florists, Henry Miller. It is 107 feet tall and spans 55 feet in width. Location: Corner of Jefferson and SW 20th Ave.

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