Category Archives: Broadleaved Trees

Oregon Ash, Fraxinus latifolia

Oregon Ash                                                                                        The Olive Family–Oleaceae

Fraxinus latifolia treeFraxinus latifolia Benth.

(FRAKS-ih-nus lat-ih-FOAL-ee-uh)

Names: Latifolia means “wide leaves.”  Oregon Ash has wider leaflets than most Ashes.

Relationships: There are about 65 species of Ashes, mostly in the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere.  About 16 species occur in North America.

Distribution of Oregon Ash from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Oregon Ash from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: Oregon Ash is found from the southern coast of British Columbia, west of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, to the coast ranges and Sierra Nevadas of California.

Young Oregon Ash tree.

Young Oregon Ash tree.

Growth: Oregon Ash grows to about 75 feet (25m).  It grows quickly for the first 80 years, then more slowly—living to about 250 years.

Habitat: This tree grows in moist to wet soils near streams, lakes and in flood plains.

 

Oregon Ash typically grows on lakesides and in floodplains,

Oregon Ash typically grows on lakesides and in floodplains,

Wetland Designation: FACW, Facultative wetland, it usually occurs in wetlands but occasionally occurs in non-wetlands.

Flowers are very small.

Flowers are very small.

Fraxinus latifolia leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Oregon Ash is our only tree with compound leaves, making it easy to identify.  The oppositely arranged, pinnately compound leaves have 5-7 leaflets.  Flowers are small and inconspicuous, appearing before the leaves.  The seeds are single samaras, like a half of a maple seed, with long (3-5cm) wings, borne in large, drooping clusters.

Single samaras of Oregon Ash.

Single samaras of Oregon Ash.

 

In the Landscape: Oregon Ash is perhaps my least favorite of our native trees.  The new growth is susceptible to aphids.  It is, however, useful for revegetating wet areas that are flooded periodically.  Autumn is its most aesthetic season, when female trees produce attractive seed clusters, followed by bright yellow fall foliage.

Phenology: Bloom Period: March-May. Samaras ripen: August-September.

Propagation: Seeds are best collected slightly green before fully dry on the tree and sown immediately outside or in a cold frame.   Otherwise they require a cool, moist stratification at 40ºF (4ºC) for 90 days.

Use by people: Natives used Oregon Ash wood for canoe paddles and digging sticks. Today the hard wood is used for tool handles, furniture, sports equipment, and barrels.  It also makes good firewood.

Use by wildlife: The winged seeds of Oregon Ash are eaten by a birds and small mammals.  The foliage is food for butterfly larvae and may be consumed by passing browsers.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Silvics of North America

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

 

Douglas Maple, Acer glabrum var. douglasii

Douglas Maple LeavesDouglas Maple

 Acer glabrum var. douglasii (Hook.)Dippel

(AY-ser GLAB-rum)

Names: Acer glabrum is better known as Rocky Mountain Maple in the interior regions of the country.   Glabrum means smooth, without hair, referring to its smooth stems and leaves. The variety is named after David Douglas,

Relationships: There are nearly 150 species of maples worldwide.  Most are from eastern Asia.  North America is home to about a dozen.  Maples are popular ornamental trees and there are many cultivated varieties.  We have three native maple species in the Pacific Northwest:  Big-Leaf Maple and two more shrubby cousins, Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, and Douglas Maple, Acer glabrum.

Distribution of Rocky Mountain Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Rocky Mountain Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: The variety douglasii, is found from coastal southeast Alaska and British Columbia, to southern Oregon; east to Idaho and Montana.

Growth:  It is a small tree or shrub to 30 ft. (10m), usually multi-stemmed.

Habitat: Douglas Maple will withstand drier, more open sites than Vine Maple and will also withstand colder temperatures. Wetland designation: FAC, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

Douglas Maple LeafDiagnostic Characters: The toothed leaves of Douglas Maple are 3-5 lobed, 1-3 in. (2-8cm) wide.  Young twigs are usually reddish, in contrast to Vine Maple’s green stems.  The flowers are greenish-yellow.  The samaras are about 1 in (2-3cm) long in a V-shape.

In the landscape: Douglas Maple can be used in the same way as Vine Maple.  Fall foliage ranges from yellow to orange to crimson.

Double samaras of Douglas Maple

Double samaras of Douglas Maple

Propagation:  Seeds do not store well. They are best sown as soon as they are ripe outside or in a cold frame.  Germination occurs in late winter or spring.  The seeds may also be scarified or soaked for 24 hours, then cold stratified at 40ºF (4ºC) for 2-6 months.  Seeds and seedlings need to be protected from rodents, slugs and other herbivores.  Lower branches may be layered to generate rooted cuttings

Use by natives: Natives used Douglas Maple for snowshoe frames.

Use by wildlife: It is an important browse species for deer, elk and other big game animals.  Grosbeaks and small mammals eat the seeds.

 

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

 

Vine Maple, Acer circinatum

Vine Maple                                                   The Maple Family–Aceraceae

 Vine Maple largeAcer circinatum Pursh.

(Ay-ser Ser-sin-AY-tum)

Names: “Vine” Maple, although not really a vine, has very slender, often sprawling, branches. These branches often root to produce new trees, creating dense thickets underneath the shade of taller conifers.  It is a small, usually multi-stemmed tree or shrub.  Circinatum refers to the “rounded,” regularly lobed leaves.

Relationships: There are nearly 150 species of maples worldwide.  Most are from eastern Asia.  North America is home to about a dozen.  Maples are popular ornamental trees and there are many cultivated varieties.  We have three native maple species in the Pacific Northwest:  Big-Leaf Maple and two more shrubby cousins, Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, and Douglas Maple, Acer glabrum

Distribution of Vine Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Vine Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution:  It is found from Alaska and British Columbia to northern California, from the east side of the Cascade Mountains to the Pacific coast.

Vine Maple often grows as an understory tree/shrub.

Vine Maple often grows as an understory tree/shrub.

Growth: Vine maple grows to 21 feet (7m) and lives about 80 or 90 years.

Habitat: Although in nature, Vine Maple is often found in moist to wet places in the shade of other trees, it will also thrive in sunny openings with adequate moisture.

Wetland designation: FAC-, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

 

White flowers with red sepals.

White flowers with red sepals.

Diagnostic Characters: Like all maples, the leaves are arranged opposite each other on the stem.  Vine maple leaves have a very distinctive shape.  Its symmetric, palmate leaves have 7-9 regularly spaced lobes, all nearly the same length.  Young stems are a pale green.  White flowers with wine colored sepals are replaced by widely spreading samaras– the paired, winged seeds almost forming a straight line.

Vine Maples have distinctive rounded, evenly lobed leaves.

Vine Maples have distinctive rounded, evenly lobed leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Vine Maple shrubIn the Landscape: Vine Maple is one of the most popular native shrubs for landscapes.  An enchanting woodland landscape may be created by planting large groupings under the shade of taller trees along with ferns and woodland flowers.  Vine Maple is also a good choice next to buildings and in parking lots.  There is some variability in the fall color display.  Those growing in shade tend to turn a pale yellow; those growing in sun are more likely to turn orange or scarlet.

 

Vine Maple landscape

 

Plants growing in the sun often have redder fall color.

Plants growing in the sun often have redder fall color.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Double samaras of vine maple

Double samaras of vine maple

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-June. Double samaras ripen September to October and are dispersed through November.

Propagation:  Vine Maple seeds do not store well. They are best sown as soon as they are ripe outside or in a cold frame.  Germination occurs in late winter or spring.  The seeds may also be scarified or soaked for 24 hours, then cold stratified at 40ºF (4ºC) for 2-6 months.  Seeds and seedlings need to be protected from rodents, slugs and other herbivores.  Lower branches may be layered to generate rooted cuttings.

 

 

Use by People: Natives used Vine Maple branches for baskets and fish traps.  It was often used for firewood.

Use by wildlife: Summer foliage is a preferred food for deer and elk.  Seeds, buds and flowers provide food for many birds and rodents.  Squirrels and chipmunks will cache the seeds.  In fact, if you try to collect seeds, you may discover that many of the samaras have already had the seed removed!

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Big-Leaf Maple, Acer macrophyllum

Big-Leaf Maple                                                                                The Maple Family–Aceraceae

Acer macrophyllum treeAcer macrophyllum Pursh.

(AY-ser mak-ro-FILL-um)

Names: Big-Leaf Maple, sometimes called Oregon Maple, derives both its common name and its scientific name, macrophyllum, from the fact that it can have leaves up to 12 inches across–the largest of any maple!

Relationships: There are nearly 150 species of maples worldwide.  Most are from eastern Asia.  North America is home to about a dozen.  Maples are popular ornamental trees and there are many cultivated varieties.  We have three native maple species in the Pacific Northwest:  Big-Leaf Maple and two more shrubby cousins, Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, and Douglas Maple, Acer glabrum.

Distribution of Big-leaf Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Big-leaf Maple from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: Big-Leaf Maple is native to the Pacific coast from southeast Alaska to southern California.

Growth: Big-Leaf Maple grows rapidly when young, more slowly as it ages.  It typically grows 30-75 feet (10-25m) in cultivation but can grow more than 100 feet (30m) tall.  It is a spreading tree with a rounded head and may grow nearly as wide as it is tall.  The trunk can grow to be more than 3 feet (1m) in diameter.  Big-Leaf Maples may live to be 200 years old.

Big-Leaf Maple branches are often draped with mosses.

Big-Leaf Maple branches are often draped with mosses.

Habitat: Although Big-Leaf Maple will grow on drier sites, it is often found along stream banks and does best on similarly moist sites—its leaves will grow bigger and more impressive when growing in moist, shady areas.

Wetland designation: FACU, Facultative upland, it usually occurs in non-wetland but is occasionally found in wetlands.

Diagnostic Characters: Big-Leaf Maple is easily recognizable by its large 5-lobed leaves–often 12-inches (30cm) across, but sometimes much smaller– 6” (15cm).  In the spring, greenish-yellow flower clusters emerge before or with the leaves.  The seeds are the typical paired, winged samaras or “helicopter seeds” of maple trees.

Big leaf Maple in spring.

Big leaf Maple in spring.

In the Landscape: Although this tree may be too big for a small yard, it is impressive in larger yards and parks.  It effectively creates a shady and cool environment beneath its leafy branches, an ideal place for a picnic on a hot, summer day.  In fall, the leaves turn yellow, turning brown after falling, creating a carpet of large, brown leaves persisting through the winter.

Big leaf Maple in Fall is usually yellow, but sometimes tinged with orange.

Big leaf Maple in Fall is usually yellow, but sometimes tinged with orange.

 

Licorice Fern and Mosses on Big Leaf Maple.

Licorice Fern and Mosses on Big Leaf Maple.

This majestic tree is made even more interesting by the life it supports.  Its deeply ridged bark creates and ideal habitat for epiphytes (plants that grow on trees without soil), including many species of mosses and lichens as well as the Licorice Fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza. When you see a tree covered with moss, you can be pretty sure it is probably a Big-Leaf Maple!  As the moss-layer thickens and begins to decompose enough soil is sometimes created for tree seedlings to germinate.

 

 

 

 

Big-Leaf Maple flowers.

Big-Leaf Maple flowers.

Phenology:  Bloom Period:  March to June before the leaves appear. Double samaras ripen September to October; most are dispersed by wind between October and January.

Double samaras of Big-leaf Maple

Double samaras of Big-leaf Maple

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation:  Seeds do not store well. They are best sown as soon as they are ripe outside or in a cold frame.  Germination occurs in late winter or spring.  The seeds may also be soaked for 24 hours or warm stratified for 1-2 months, then cold stratified at 40ºF (4ºC) for 2-6 months.  Seeds and seedlings need to be protected from rodents, slugs and other, herbivores.

Acer macrophyllim barkUse by people: Natives found this tree very useful.  Some used the bark for making rope.  The leaves were used for containers or in cooking pits.  The wood was extremely popular for carving both artwork and useful items such as dishes and paddles.  Sprouted seeds were also eaten.  Maple syrup can be made by boiling down the sap.  The greenish-yellow flower clusters make a tasty garnish for salads.  Commercially, the wood is mostly used for making veneers for furniture, but is also used for musical instruments and interior paneling.  Burls are used for clocks and tabletops.

Use by Wildlife: The seeds, buds and flowers of Big-Leaf Maple are a favorite food of many small mammals and birds.  Douglas squirrels will cache the seeds.  Flower clusters are often found on the ground after they have been nibbled on by squirrels.  Deer and small mammals eat seedlings and saplings.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Silvics of North America

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet + Landowner Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees


Cascara, Frangula purshiana

Cascara                                                                             The Buckthorn Family–Rhamnaceae

Cascara young treeFrangula purshiana (D.C.) Cooper  

(FRANG-yoo-luh pursh-ee-ANN-uh)

Names:  Frangula is considered by some to be a subgenus of the Buckthorn genus, Rhamnus. More widely known as Rhamnus purshiana, this species is also well known by the common name, Cascara sagrada, meaning sacred bark in Spanish. The bark is used medicinally as a very strong laxative.  Supposedly from Chinook Jargon, old-timers called it Chittam or Chitticum (“shit come”) bark.  This species is also sometimes referred to as Cascara Buckthorn, or Pursh’s Buckthorn.

Relationships: There are about 100 species of Buckthorns worldwide throughout the northern hemisphere and in the southern hemisphere in parts of Africa and South America.  There are about 7 or 8 species of Frangula in North America.

Distribution of Frangula purshiana from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Frangula purshiana from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: Cascara occurs from British Columbia through northern California, mostly on the west side of the Cascades, but is also found eastward to northern Idaho and northwestern Montana.

Growth: Cascara grows to 15-36 feet (5-12m).  It grows smaller and shrubbier in the southern part of its range.  Its ecological habitat varies greatly; from fairly dry, rocky, southern aspects to somewhat shady areas, with rich humusy soils, bordering swamps or slow-moving streams. Wetland designation: FAC-, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetlands or non-wetlands.

 

 

Cascara budsDiagnostic Characters: Cascara leaves are distinctive, similar to dogwood, but are alternately arranged.  They are dark, glossy green, elliptical to oblong, with furrowed, parallel veins.  The flowers are greenish-yellow in umbrella-shaped clusters.  The fruits ripen to a purplish-black.  The bitter bark is a smooth, silver gray.

 

In the Landscape: Attractive in all seasons, Cascara’s leaves are bright green in spring, turning dark and glossy in the summer.  Yellow fall foliage is shed to reveal a picturesque branching pattern in winter.  Cascara, however, does not adapt well to urban settings and is better in a woodland park or garden.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  May-June. Fruits ripen August-September.

Propagation:   Seeds are best sown in fall, 1 inch deep.  Stored seed requires 1-3 months of cold stratification.  Cuttings may be taken in late summer or fall of half-ripe to mature wood of the current year’s growth.

Use by People: As has already been mentioned, natives used Cascara bark tea as a laxative.  It was introduced to modern medicine in 1877, and is still used in modern pharmaceuticals.  Natives also used it on sores and swellings.  The berries were eaten fresh in July and August.  The bark and berries have also been used to make a yellow or green dye.

Use by Wildlife: Deer or other mammals may browse Cascara occasionally.  The berries are attractive to birds, small mammals and raccoons.  They are especially favored by Pileated Woodpeckers.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Eflora, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Pacific Dogwood, Cornus nuttallii

Pacific Dogwood                                                                    The Dogwood Family–Cornaceae

 Cornus nuttallii Audubon ex Torr. & A. GrayPacific Dogwood Flower

(KOR-nus new-TAL-ee-eye)

Names: Pacific Dogwood is also known as Western Flowering DogwoodIt was named after Thomas Nuttall, an English botanist and zoologist.

Relationships: There are about 100 dogwood species worldwide found primarily in temperate regions.  Three Dogwood trees and a couple of shrub species are found in the eastern or Midwestern United States.  In our region, besides the Pacific Dogwood, we have a shrub, Red-Twig Dogwood, Cornus sericea, and a groundcover, Bunchberry, Cornus canadensis. 

Distribution of Pacific Dogwood from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Pacific Dogwood from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: Pacific Dogwood is found from southwest British Columbia, western Washington and Oregon and on the west slopes of the Californian mountain ranges.   There is also a disjunctive population in northern Idaho.

Growth: Pacific Dogwood usually grows to about 20-30 feet (7-10m), but can grow to be 90 feet (30m).  It may live to be 150 years old.

Habitat: Pacific Dogwood prefers moist, well-drained sites and is most often found as an understory tree in fairly open, mixed forests.

Typical parallel veining pattern of a dogwood leaf, turning red in fall.

Typical parallel veining pattern of a dogwood leaf, turning red in fall.

Diagnostic Characters: The Pacific Dogwood leaves have the veining pattern typical of all dogwoods, where the nearly parallel secondary veins branch from the midvein and curve towards the tip as they near the leaf edge.  Like most dogwoods, they have opposite leaf arrangement.  The tiny, greenish, purple-tinged flowers are pressed into tight hemispheric clusters.  These clusters are surrounded by 4-6 white (sometimes pink-tinged) bracts, creating a showy inflorescence with the appearance of one large flower.  Each flower cluster develops into a bumpy ball of hard, red fruits in the fall.

 

Pacific Dogwood flowersIn the Landscape: This attractive tree is often one of the most sought after native for gardens, but unfortunately larger specimens do not transplant well, and it is sometimes difficult to grow in containers.  Small trees may sometimes be available in specialty nurseries but they are usually in short supply.  Pacific Dogwood is also very susceptible to a fungus disease called Dogwood Anthracnose.  This disease causes large brown blotches on the leaves and will also cause twig dieback.  Many people are willing to accept this risk in order to enjoy the spectacular floral display this tree provides in the spring.  Tall, flowering, Pacific Dogwood trees are most glorious when they are pressed up against the edge of a Douglas Fir forest.  This tree’s beauty continues into other seasons with red berries, pinkish fall foliage, and an attractive branching pattern.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-June, flowering may occur again in late summer. Fruit ripens-September to October.

Propagation:   Seeds should be collected in fall, removed from their fleshy fruit covering and planted immediately into outdoor seed flats.  Germination may take 18 months or more.  Scarification and a warm stratification at 60ºF (15ºC) for 60 days followed by a cold stratification at 40ºF (4ºC) for 3-4 months may hasten germination.  It is also possible to propagate by layering.

Use by People: Natives used the hard, dried wood for harpoon shafts and other implements.  The wood has also been used to make thread spindles, golf club heads and piano keys.

Use by wildlife: Deer and elk will browse the leaves.  Small mammals and birds such as grosbeaks, cedar waxwings, and woodpeckers eat the fruit.  It is an impressive sight– Pileated Woodpeckers and Flickers in a Dogwood tree feasting on the berries!

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

 

Black Hawthorns, Crataegus douglasii & C. suksdorfii

                                                                                                  The Rose family–Rosaceae

Douglas Hawthorn

Crataegus douglasii flowers have 10 stamens.

Crataegus douglasii flowers have 10 stamens.

Crataegus douglasii Lindl. (var. douglasii)

(kra-TEE-gus doug-LASS-ee-eye)

Crataegus suksdorfii flowers have 20 stamens.

Crataegus suksdorfii flowers have 20 stamens.

Suksdorf’s Hawthorn

 Crataegus suksdorfii  (Sarg.) Kruschke

(kra-TEE-gus sooks-DORF-ee-eye)

Names: Mayflower is the name given to Hawthorns in the spring. Douglas Hawthorn is also known as Black Hawthorn, Black Hawberry, Western Thornapple or similar variations thereof.  Suksdorf’s Hawthorn was previously considered a variety of Douglas Hawthorn (C. douglasii var. suksdorfii).  Both can be considered Black Hawthorns due to their black fruits. They are very similar and differ mostly in the number of chromosomes in each cell and the number of stamens within each flower.  The tetraploid Douglas Hawthorn has 10 stamens. The diploid Suksdorf’s Hawthorn has 20 stamens.  Because of the level of polyploidy in each of these species, Suksdorf’s Hawthorn is believed to be a parent of Douglas Hawthorn either through hybridization with another species or by doubling its own chromosome number.

Distribution of Douglas Hawthorn from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Douglas Hawthorn from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Relationships: There are hundreds of hawthorn species in North America, Europe and Asia.  The exact number is difficult to determine because natural hybridization and polyploidy make it very challenging to classify species within this genus.  Red Hawthorn, C. columbiana, which may be seen in some areas of the B.C. coast, is now either lumped in C. douglasii or C. chrysocarpa  var. piperi.  Oneseed Hawthorn, C. monogyna, is an introduced species, commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.

Distribution of Suksdorf Hawthorn from USDA--note it only occurs in the SW corner of BC. It is unclear if it still is present in SE Alaska.

Distribution of Suksdorf Hawthorn from USDA–note it only occurs in the SW corner of BC. It is unclear if it still is present in SE Alaska.

 

 

Distribution: Douglas Hawthorn is the most widespread member of its genus.  It is found from southern Alaska to northern California in the west, and eastward across the northern United States and Canada in disjunctive populations to the Great Lakes region in the northeast.  Suksdorf’s Hawthorn is found in all the Pacific Coast states including Idaho and Montana.  Both species have been observed growing together in eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, Idaho and the San Juan Islands.

 

Growth: Black Hawthorns grow 20-45 feet (7-15m) tall.

Habitat: Both grow in moist sites in open areas, forest edges and along streams.  Douglas Hawthorn can tolerate drier sites.

Wetland designation: FAC, Facultative, it is equally likely to occur wetlands or non-wetlands.

Black Hawthorn Fruit

Black Hawthorn Fruit

Diagnostic Characters: Black Hawthorns have sharp thorns, about 3 cm long.  Their leaves are thick and leathery with 5-9 lobes only at the top.  White, stinky flowers are borne in clusters.  Fruits are purplish black, apple-like, about 1 cm long.

In the Landscape: Cultivated European species are grown for their attractive flowers and fruits.  Black Hawthorns are good for restoration because their spreading roots hold soil and resist erosion.  They also spread readily by root suckers.  Planted as a hedge, Hawthorns can create an impenetrable, thorny thicket.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  May-June.  Fruits are dispersed mid-July through August.

Propagation: Black Hawthorn seed is best sown fresh outside in the fall.  Some seeds may germinate in the spring, but most will take another year.  Scarification in acid followed by a 3-month warm stratification at 60ºF (15ºC) and then a 3 month cold stratification at 40ºF (4ºC) may hasten germination.  Black Hawthorn root suckers can also be transplanted.

Use by People: The thorns from Black Hawthorn were used by natives for rake tines, lances and fishhooks.  The hard wood was made into tool handles and weapons.  The fruit was eaten both fresh and dried, but was not a favorite food.

Black Hawthorns create an impenetrable hedge which is great for sheltering small birds and mammals.

Black Hawthorns create an impenetrable hedge which is great for sheltering small birds and mammals.

Use by Wildlife: The thickets created by Black Hawthorn are excellent habitat for wildlife, providing cover and nesting sites.  The fruit is consumed by birds, such as Cedar Waxwings, and many types of mammals, but just as for native people, it is not a favorite food for most species of wildlife.

 

 

 

Links for Crataegus douglasii:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet + Landowner Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Links for Crataegus suksdorfii:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Bitter Cherry, Prunus emarginata

Bitter Cherry                                                                                       The Rose family–Rosaceae

 Prunus emarginata   (Douglas ex Hook.) D.Dietr.

(PROO-nus ee-marj-ih-NATE-uh)Prunus emarginata fall

Names: As the common name suggests, the fruits of Bitter Cherry are very bitter.  The fruit is inedible to people.  Emarginate means notched at the margins, usually at the tip of a leaf or petal.  I am not sure what this refers to in this species, perhaps just that the leaves are toothed or rounded at the tip.

Relationships: The genus, Prunus, contains cherries, plums, peaches, apricots, and almonds.  There are about 30 species native to North America, but many, many species and cultivated varieties have been introduced.  Most cultivated cherries and plums are from Europe; many ornamental varieties are from China and Japan.

Distribution of Bitter Cherry from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr.

Distribution of Bitter Cherry from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr.

Distribution: Bitter Cherry is found from southern British Columbia to southern California along the coast through the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas; east to the Rocky Mountains of Idaho and Montana, and in isolated communities in Wyoming, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

Young Bitter Cherry with attractive bark.

Young Bitter Cherry with attractive bark.

Growth: Bitter Cherry grows quickly to 6 to 45 feet (2-15m) tall.  It is not long-lived, perhaps only living about 30-40 years.

 

Habitat:  Bitter Cherry trees may be found in moist, second growth forests, often along streams.

Wetland designation: FACU, Facultative upland, usually occurs in non-wetland but is occasionally found in wetlands.

Bitter Cherry flowers and leavesDiagnostic Characters: In older trees, Bitter Cherry is most easily identified by its reddish brown, or gray bark with horizontal lenticels (raised pores that allow for gas exchange through the bark).  The leaves are small, (3-8cm), finely toothed and rounded at the tip.  The flowers are white or pinkish in a flat-topped cluster.  Bitter Cherry fruits are bright red, about 1 cm in diameter.  Chokecherry, P. virginiana, a species that is common on the east side of the Cascades, has long, narrow flower clusters and darker, purple to black cherries.

Prunus emarginata treeIn the Landscape: With its attractive bark, flowers and fruit, Bitter Cherry is a pleasing addition to a woodland garden.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-June. Cherries ripen July to September, dispersal occurs August through September.

 

 

Bright Red Fruit of Bitter Cherry.

Bright Red Fruit of Bitter Cherry.

Propagation:  Bitter Cherry is usually propagated using fresh seed.  A cool, moist stratification at 40ºF (4ºC) for 3 months is necessary to break the embryo’s dormancy.  Seeds may take18 months to germinate; in fact, Bitter Cherry seeds may remain viable in the soil for many years.  Bitter Cherry may also be propagated by softwood taken in spring or early summer, or heel cuttings of semi-hardwood in late summer.

 

Bark has horizontal lenticels, typical of many cherries.

Bark has horizontal lenticels, typical of many cherries.

 

 

 

Use by People: Natives used cherry bark as decoration in their basket designs.  It was also used for wrapping the joints of many implements, such as spears, arrows and fire drills.

Use by Wildlife: Bitter Cherry is browsed by deer, elk and black bear.  Birds, small mammals and slugs eat the cherries.

 

Two other Prunus species are found in some parts of our region.  Chokecherry, P. virginiana, although more common on the east side of the Cascades, is found in some parts of the west side, more often in drier, prairie habitats.  It has elongated flower clusters and dark purple to black fruits.  Klamath Plum, P. subcordata, is rare in the Willamette Valley, more common in southern Oregon and the Sierras of California.

  •    The popular evergreen hedge, English Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus, is also in this genus.  It has been overplanted in much of the northwest.  Many people do not realize that it is really a tree that can grow to 45 feet (15m) or more.  It often quickly outgrows its intended location such that even with multiple shearings, it can become too large to handle.  Even more troubling is that birds will carry its seeds to pristine forests, where it will germinate and invade native habitats.  Better choices for evergreen hedges include: Pacific Wax Myrtle, Myrica californica or California Bay Laurel, Umbellularia californica.
  •  You may also see cherry trees that have escaped cultivation growing in seemingly wild habitats, (Sweet Cherry, P. avium, a native of Eurasia and north Africa is the most likely renegade.)

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

Quaking Aspen, Populus tremuloides

Quaking Aspen                                                                                The Willow Family– Salicaceae

Populus tremuloides Michx.Populus tremuloides

(POP-yu-lus  trem-yu-low-EYE-deez)

Names: Quaking Aspen is sometimes called Trembling Aspen.  All of its names refer to how the leaves will quiver with the slightest breeze.

Relationships: There are about 15 species of Populus (Poplars, Cottonwoods and Aspens) native to North America. In our region, Black Cottonwood is very common.

 

 

Distribution of Quaking Aspen from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution of Quaking Aspen from USGS ( “Atlas of United States Trees” by Elbert L. Little, Jr. )

Distribution: It is the most widely distributed tree in North America.  It ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland and Labrador, southeast to Virginia.  Distribution is spotty in the west, occurring mostly in the mountains from Washington to California and Mexico and in the Colorado Rockies.  It is found sporadically in valleys west of the Cascades in Washington and Oregon, often in association with Black Hawthorn, Crataegus douglasii.  It is also found near the shores of Puget Sound and on southeastern Vancouver Island.

 

Growth: A fast growing tree, often multitrunked, Quaking Aspen can reach 90 feet (30m), but usually only grows 20-60 feet (7-20m).

Habitat: A fairly short-lived tree, it grows in wet forest openings and meadows, sometimes on the border of oak parklands and gravelly prairies.  It often forms clonal stands (groves composed of genetically identical trees created by the growth of spreading suckers).

Quaking Aspen leaves

Diagnostic Characters: The most important diagnostic character for Quaking Aspen is the flexible, laterally flattened petioles (leaf stalks).  It is this feature that makes the triangular, heart-shaped leaves tremble in the slightest breeze.

 

 

IPopulus tremuloides barkn the Landscape: Quaking Aspen is a popular landscape tree because it adds one more design element to the garden, movement!  It also has brilliant golden-yellow fall color.  Planted in groves it can make a spectacular display, but it should not be planted where suckering growth may cause problems to sewers, drainage systems or other utilities.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Catkins appear April to May before the leaves, female and male flowers usually on separate plants.  Aspen pollen is carried by the winds and is another major allergen–dispersed mostly in March. Seeds with long, silky hairs are dispersed soon after they are ripe in May or June, carried by air or water currents.

Propagation: similar to willows, fresh seed germinates readily. It can also be propagated from suckers.  This species does not root as readily from cuttings as do other poplars.

Use by People: Quaking Aspen is one of the most important timber trees in the east.  It is used for making engineered lumber such as waferboard and oriented strandboard.  The pulp makes fine paper.  It is also used to make crates, pallets and furniture as well as excelsior (wood shavings used for packing or stuffing), matchsticks, tongue depressors, and pellets for fuel.

Use by Wildlife: For deer, elk and moose Quaking Aspen is an important browse.  Rabbits, rodents, porcupines, and beaver all eat the bark and other parts of aspen trees.  They often can girdle and kill small trees.  Beavers use it for making their lodges and can kill and remove 200 stems a year as far as 400 feet from a waterway!  Quaking Aspen also provides important feeding and nesting sites for many birds.  It is host to several insect species that are food for woodpeckers.

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

Silvics of North America

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet + Landowner Fact Sheet

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees


Pacific Crabapple, Malus fusca

Pacific Crabapple                                                                            The Rose family–Rosaceae

Malus fusca treeMalus fusca (Raf.) C.K. Schneid.

(MAH-lus FOOS-kuh)

Names: Pacific Crabapple is also known as Oregon Crabapple.  It has also been known has Pyrus fusca, Malus diversifolia, or Pyrus diversifolia.  Pyrus is the genus name for pear.  Fusca means dark or dusky, I am not sure whether it refers to its bark or the fruit after it ages.  Diversifolia means different leaves, referring to the different leaf shapes, lobed and unlobed.

Relationships: There are only about 25 species of apple in the northern hemisphere but there are numerous crosses and varieties, especially of the Eurasian species M. pumila.  There are only about 5 species native to North America.  Pacific Crabapple is the only native apple in our region.

Distribution of Malus fusca from Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service.

Distribution of Malus fusca from Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service.

Distribution: It is found from southern Alaska to northern California, along the coast on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

Growth: Pacific Crabapple grows relatively slowly to 36 feet (12m).

Habitat: It grows in moist woods, and at the edges of wetlands and estuaries. Wetland designation: FACW, Facultative wetland, it has a higher probability of occurring in wetlands than non-wetlands.Pacific Crabapple

Malus fusca leaves

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: The leaves of Pacific Crabapple are irregularly lobed, with toothed margins, pointed at the end.  Branches have sharp spur shoots as is typical for apple trees.  Its fragrant apple blossoms are white to pink.  Fruits are small (10-15mm), oblong, and yellow to orange to purplish-red.  Older, reddish-brown bark becomes deeply fissured.

Malus fusca flowers

 

 

In the landscape: it is useful for planting in wet areas and when a smaller tree is needed.  In spring, blossoms are attractive and fragrant.  In fall, the leaves turn red or yellow-orange.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  April-May. The small, pome fruits begin to ripen in August and September, but may hang on the tree through winter.

Malus fusca fruit2Propagation: Pacific Crab is usually propagated by seed, sown in fall. Fresh seed will germinate in late winter.  Stored seed requires a cold stratification period for 3 months and may not germinate for 12 months.  Cuttings of mature wood are best taken in November.

Use by people: Most coastal natives ate the tart crabapples.  They were eaten either raw or after a storage period, after which they become softer and sweeter.  The bark was used medicinally for digestive disorders, an eyewash, and externally for wounds.  Its use, however, should be limited due to the presence of hydrogen cyanide.  The wood was used to make small tools, such as mallets.  Like all apples its fruit is high in pectin and can be added to other fruits to make jellies.

Pacific Crabapple small fall

Use by wildlife: Apple leaves are well known to orchard growers as “deer candy.”  We can expect that our native apple is just as appealing to browsing mammals.  Leaves may also be host to butterfly larvae.  Apple blossoms attract insect pollinators such as the mason bee.  The fruit is eaten by several animals, especially birds.  Pacific Crabapple also provides excellent cover for wildlife.

 

 

 

Links:

USDA Plants Database

Natural Resources Canada

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Jepson Manual, University of California

Calphotos

Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center

Virginia Tech ID Fact Sheet

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees