Category Archives: Broadleaved Trees

Black Cottonwood, Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa

Black Cottonwood                                 The Willow Family– Salicaceae

Black CottonwoodPopulus balsamifera L. ssp. trichocarpa (Torr. & A.Gray ex Hook) Brayshaw

(POP-yu-lus ball-sum-IF-er-uh subspecies tri-ko-KAR-pa)

Names: Black Cottonwood is also known as Balsam Poplar. Balsamifera means balsam (aromatic resin)-bearing.   Trichocarpa means with hairy fruits, referring to its fluffy seeds. The cottony seeds are often seen drifting in a summer breeze, giving the tree its common name of Cottonwood.

Relationships: There are about 15 species of Populus (Poplars, Cottonwoods and Aspens) native to North America.  In our region, Black Cottonwood is very common. Also found sporadically in our region is the Quaking Aspen, (Populus tremuloides).

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

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

Distribution: Black Cottonwood is found from coastal Alaska to the mountains of California, with some growing as far south as northwest Mexico.  It reaches from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains.

Growth: Black Cottonwood grows very fast, several feet each year.  It can grow to 150’ (50m) or more and can live 200-300 years.

Habitat:  It usually grows on wet to moist sites in floodplains and along rivers.

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

 

Sticky resinous buds.

Populus trichocarpa leavesDiagnostic Characters: The thick, heart-shaped or triangular leaves of Black Cottonwood grow from 2 to 6 inches (5-15m) long, sometimes larger.  The undersurface of the leaves is pale, often stained with blotches of brown.  Buds are sticky with resin and are fragrant.  Catkins appear before the leaves in the spring.  The fruits are hairy, rounded, 3-part capsules that split to release numerous cottony seeds that float through the air.  Old bark is dark gray and deeply furrowed.

Populus trichocarpa barkBlack Cottonwood bark

In the Landscape: Black Cottonwood is not a good choice for most gardens.  It becomes very large very fast and is also very messy.  It, however, is very good wildlife habitat and is very valuable for quick restoration along floodplains and other moist areas.

 

 

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Early March to June, with male and female catkins on separate trees.  Cottonwood pollen is another major allergen. Seeds ripen late May to July.  Seeds may be dispersed by wind or water.

Flowering catkin and fallen seedhead.

Flowering catkin and fallen seedhead.

Propagation is similar to that of willows. It is easily propagated by cuttings; and fresh seeds germinate easily.

 

The numerous fluffy seeds of Black Cottonwood resemble snowfall in summer.

The numerous fluffy seeds of Black Cottonwood resemble snowfall in summer.

 

 

 

Use by People: Natives used Black Cottonwood for many medicinal purposes.  They used the gum of the burls on cuts and wounds.  Bruised leaves were also placed on cuts as an antiseptic.  An infusion of the bark was used for sore throats.  Young shoots were used to make sweat lodges.  Today Black Cottonwood is used for the interior layers of plywood and for paper products, especially high-grade book and magazine paper.  It is a parent of fast-growing hybrid poplars such as P. trichocarpa x p. deltoides, which are being grown specifically for paper products and biofuels.

Use by wildlife: Streamside Black Cottonwoods create favorable fish habitat by providing stream bank stability, increasing nutrient availability by the shedding of leaves and twigs, and creating a shaded microclimate.   Black Cottonwood is also a favorite nesting or perching tree for many bird species (Bald Eagle, owls, ospreys, hawks, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, etc.).  Deer and elk use it more for cover than for forage.  Rabbits and hares eat the bark.  Beavers find it most palatable and use it for dam building.

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

 

Willows

Willows                                                               The Willow Family– Salicaceae

Salix sp.                                 

Relationships:  There are more than 300 species of willow worldwide, mostly in the northern hemisphere.  Hitchcock and Cronquist describe 38 species in Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest. Exact identification of these trees and shrubs is extremely difficult.  Vegetative characters are variable even on the same plant.  Even technical floral characteristics may have some variability, making it difficult even for experts to determine the exact species.  Add to that, willows will often hybridize naturally in the wild, creating another level of complexity.  In the landscape, they all play a similar role, so it may not make much difference if the willow you plant in your landscape was misidentified.

Habitat: Willows generally grow along streams where the soil is moist.  They grow quickly and are very useful for controlling erosion along waterways.

Diagnostic Characters: Many willows form attractive catkins known as “pussy willows.”  Branches brought inside may be forced to bloom in late winter.  Because the pussies, or catkins lengthen as the flowers mature, many pictures you see will not show the tight “pussy” that many people would recognize.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Catkins often appear before or with the leaves beginning in February.  Although willows are mostly insect pollinated, pollen is also carried by the winds and is another major allergen–dispersed mostly in March. Tiny insects, as in the above photo, can often be found on willow catkins. I think you would need an entomologist to identify them all! The small, silky seeds of willows ripen quickly and are scattered by the wind in April.

Propagation is easy.  You can stick a branch in the ground and it will form roots and continue to grow.  Living fences can be created with willow posts, (as long as the posts are buried right side up!)  Seeds may germinate within 12-24 hours of dispersal. The seeds contain chlorophyll and are ready to photosynthesize—all they need is moisture and light!   “Volunteers” weeded out of other areas can be easily potted up or transplanted to more appropriate locations.

Use by People: Natives used the bark of willows for making string.  Willow branches are good basket-making material.  Not surprisingly the bark was also used medicinally.  Willow bark contains salicin, the chemical from which aspirin (ASA) was first synthesized.

Use by Wildlife: Willows provide food and cover for many wildlife species.  A preferred food of moose, willow leaves and bark are also consumed by deer and beaver.  Willow catkins produce nectar that attracts bees and other pollinators. The following species are the ones most commonly found in the nursery trade:

 

  • Salix hookeriana pussyHooker’s Willow Salix hookeriana Barratt ex Hook.

(SAY-licks hook-er-ee-ANN-uh)

Salix hookeriana leaves   Hooker’s willow is often called Dune Willow, Beach Willow or Coastal Willow.  It has also been known as S. piperi and S. amplifolia. A large shrub or small tree, to 18 feet (6m), it has attractive pussies in early spring before the leaves appear.  Its stout twigs and 1.5-5” (4-12cm) long, oval to egg-shaped leaves are very hairy when young.  As its common names suggest it is sometimes found on sandy beaches. Wetland designation: FACW-, Facultative-wetlands, it occurs more often in wetland than non-wetland. Blooms: March-April.

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

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

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

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

  • Salix lasiandraPacific Willow Salix lucida Muhl. ssp. lasiandra (Benth.) E. Murray

(SAY-licks LOO-sid-uh subspecies  la-see-ANN-druh)

Pacific Willow (also known as S. lasiandra) may also be known as Shining (the meaning of lucida) Willow, Western Black Willow, Yellow Willow, or Gland Willow.  Lasiandra means “wooly stamens.”  It is one of our largest native willows, reaching 20-60 feet (6-18m).  It is the easiest to identify because of its lance-shaped leaves, 2-6 inches (5-15 cm) long.  Its smooth branches are attractive in winter, especially in varieties that have yellow twigs. Wetland designation: FACW+, Facultative wetland, it usually occurs in wetlands, but sometimes occurs in non-wetlands. Blooms: March-June.

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

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

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

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

 

  • Salix scouleriana seedheadsSalix scouleriana young catkinScouler’s Willow  Salix scouleriana Barratt ex Hook.

(SAY-licks scow-lair-ee-ANN-uh)

Scouler’s Willow is also known as Upland Willow, due to its ability to thrive in drier habitats.   It is a small multi-stemmed tree or shrub, growing 6-36 feet (2-12m).  Its leaves are smaller than some of the other willows, only 1-3 inches (3-8cm), rounded or pointed at the tip, widest above the middle, tapering to a narrow base.  It rapidly invades disturbed sites; some may consider it too weedy for the more domesticated landscape. Wetland designation: FAC, facultative, it is equally likely to occur in wetland or non-wetlands.  Blooms: March-June.

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

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

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

 

  • Sitka Willow Salix sitchensis Sanson ex Bong.

(SAY-licks sit-CHEN-sis)     Salix sitchensis leaves

Salix sitchensis catkinsSitka Willow is also a pussy willow; each pussy has a brown bract, which makes an attractive contrast against the silvery, furry inflorescence. It grows 3-24 feet (1-8m) tall.  The leaves are slightly larger (1.5 to 3.5 inches, 4-9cm) than Scouler’s Willow but similarly shaped.  The undersides of the leaves have satiny, short, soft hairs. Wetland designation: FACW, it usually occurs in wetlands but occasionally is found in non-wetlands. Blooms: April-June.

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

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

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

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

Other willows that may be found in the Pacific Northwest:

Common Name Scientific Name Blooms Size Wetland
Barclay’s Willow S. barclayi Jun-Aug 1-3m FACW
Undergreen Willow S. commutata Jun-Sep 1-3m OBL
Geyer’s Willow S. geyeriana Apr-Jun 1.5-5m
Bog Willow S. pedicelllaris Apr-Jun 0.4-1.5m OBL
Diamondleaf Willow S. planifolia = S. phylicifolia May-Jul 0.2-4m OBL
Mackenzie’s Willow S.prolixa= Salix rigida var. mackenzieana Apr-Jun 1-5m

 

Some alpine willows may be appropriate for rock gardens.  These low-growing shrubs or groundcovers usually have attractive upright catkins. Most are less than 20 inches (50cm) tall.  Examples include: Arctic Willow, Salix arctica, Snow Willow, S. nivalis, and Cascade Willow, S. cascadensis.

 

Oregon White Oak, Quercus garryana

Oregon White Oak                                                                              Beech Family–Fagaceae

Oregon White Oak at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Oregon White Oak at Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge

Quercus garryana Douglas ex Hook.  

(KWER-kus gair-ee-AH-nuh)

Names: Also called Garry Oak, Oregon White Oak was named after Nicholas Garry, a deputy governor for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Relationships: There are hundreds of oak species in the temperate regions of the world, about 60 native to North America.  They are divided into two main groups: red oaks and white oaks.  Red Oak leaves usually have pointed lobes, their nuts are bitter and must have the tannins leached out before they are edible.  Squirrels bury these acorns for consuming in late winter or spring.  White oak leaves have rounded lobes, their nuts are not as bitter. Squirrels may eat these nuts as soon as they are ripe.  Evergreen oaks are often called “live oaks.”  Several species are native to California.

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

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

Distribution:  Oregon White Oak is found from southern British Columbia to northern California, mostly on the west side of the Cascade Mountains.

Growth: This species grows slowly to 80-100 feet (25-30m). It may live 250-500 years.

Habitat: Oregon White Oak grows on dry, rocky slopes and in open savannahs.  Many native oak prairies, and their associated ecosystem, have disappeared and continue to decline due to urban development, fire suppression and overgrazing.  There is evidence that native people in the Willamette Valley burned the Oregon White Oak savannahs nearly every year in the late summer or early fall to prevent the encroachment of faster growing conifers.

An oak prairie remnant in Battleground, Washington.

An oak prairie remnant in Battleground, Washington.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagnostic Characters: Oregon White Oak is easily identified by its leaves with rounded lobes.  It produces a typical acorn.  The bark is light gray with thick furrows and ridges.

New Spring Leaves

New Spring Leaves

A Mighty Oak Tree with furrowed bark.

A Mighty Oak Tree with furrowed bark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quercus garryana bole

 

In the landscape, Oregon White Oak is an attractive addition to parks and spacious yards.  Its rounded crown and intricate branching pattern adds interest to the winter landscape.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  March to June. Acorns ripen early August to November. The heavy nuts fall to the ground and are often disseminated by animals, including people.

Propagation: Acorns germinate freely in moist soil.  Nuts should not be allowed to dry out and need to be protected from rodents.  Because of a large taproot, the best trees grow from acorns allowed to grow naturally and never moved.  For the same reason, seedlings should be transplanted to their permanent location as soon as possible.

Quercus garryana leavesUse by people: Native people that lived near numerous oaks used the acorns as food.  Those that ate large quantities would soak the nuts to leach out the tannins or they would bury them in baskets, in mud, all winter and eat them in the spring.  Small quantities could be consumed without preparation.  The bark was used in a preparation to treat tuberculosis.  Today Oregon White Oak is used for furniture, flooring and other items.  It also is good for firewood.

Quercus garryana acornsUse by wildlife: Oaks are the most important genus of trees for wildlife in the United States.  The nutritious acorns that they produce provide an important food source in winter when other foods are scarce.  Deer, bear, raccoons and many small mammals eat the acorns.  The Western Gray Squirrel, which is listed as a threatened species in Washington State, is largely dependent upon Oregon White Oak trees.  At Fort Lewis near Tacoma in Washington State, efforts are being made to preserve the squirrel’s declining oak prairie habitat.  In return for providing a nutritious food, squirrels and other animals aid in the reproduction of oak trees by dispersing and burying the acorns.  Birds that eat Oregon White Oak acorns include Wild Turkeys, Band-tailed Pigeons, Woodpeckers, Jays as well as many others.  Oregon White Oak provides cover and shade for many species of wildlife.

Sadler's Oak

Sadler’s Oak

Sadler’s Oak, Quercus sadleriana, and Huckleberry Oak, Q. vaccinifolia are shrubby evergreen oaks that are native to southern Oregon; these make good additions to the landscape due to their small size and value to 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

USDA Forest Service-Fire Effects Information System

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

Sitka Alder, Alnus viridis

Sitka Alder

 Alnus viridis (Chaix) DC.ssp. sinuata, (Regel) A. Love & D. Love

Latin synonyms include, Alnus sinuata, A. crispa ssp. sinuata, and A. sitchensis.  Sitka Alder is sometimes called Mountain Alder.  Viridis means green, sinuata means curving, probably for its wavy leaves.  Sitka Alder has a similar geographic range to Red Alder but is also found from the Yukon Territory to the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Colorado. The species is also found in Siberia and Greenland.  Sitka Alder is very similar to Red Alder but is smaller and shrubbier, growing from 6 to 30 feet (2-10m).  Sitka Alder can be used instead of Red Alder where a smaller tree is desired. The wavy leaves of Sitka Alder are sharply saw-toothed and are not rolled under.  Sitka Alder often forms dense thickets that provide cover, nesting and foraging habitats for many animals.

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

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

   Thinleaf Alder, (also known as Mountain Alder), Alnus incana ssp. tenuifolia is similar to Sitka Alder; it mostly found on the east side of the Cascades.  It has leaves with doubly toothed margins.

Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera

Paper Birch                                                                            The Birch Family–Betulaceae

 Betula papyrifera Marsh.Paper Birch

(BET-yoo-la  pap-er-IH-fur-uh)

Name: Paper Birch gets its name from the way the bark on older trees will peel in thin, white, papery sheets.  It is also sometimes called Canoe Birch or White Birch.

Relationships: There are about 40 species of Birch trees in the northern temperate regions of the world, about 15 in North America.

 

 

 

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

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

Distribution: Paper Birch is widely distributed throughout the northern regions of North America from Alaska to Newfoundland.  It is common in the Great Lakes region and northeastern United States.  In the western U.S. it is mostly found in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and western Montana.  West of the Cascades, Paper Birch is mostly found north of the Skagit in Washington State, but may also occur in the southern Puget Sound region.

 

Growth: Paper Birch grows quickly to about 90 ft (30m).  It is short-lived, rarely living longer than 125-200 years.

Habitat: It grows best in moist sites, in open woods.

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

The white bark peels in papery sheets.

The white bark peels in papery sheets.

Diagnostic Characters: Although the white, papery bark is a good identification character for older trees, young, darker barked trees may be confused with Bitter Cherry.  Both have horizontal lines of lenticels on the bark.  The leaves of Paper Birch are sharply pointed; the margins are doubly toothed.  Paper Birches produce catkins that appear before or at the same time as the leaves.  The catkins break up at maturity

 

 

 

 

In the landscape: Paper Birches are best planted in groves, creating a woodland effect that especially highlights their distinctive white trunks.  It is best, however, to avoid planting birches next to where cars will be parked because the resident insect population may drip sticky honeydew throughout the summer!

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Mid-April to early June.  Birch pollen is also a major allergen. Small winged nutlets ripen early August to mid-September. Most are disseminated by the wind from September to November.

Propagation:  Paper Birch is easily propagated by seed, stratified at 40ºF (4ºC) for 90 days.  After treatment, sown seeds should be exposed to light at least 8 hours a day.

Use by People: Paper Birch, as its other name suggests, was used, especially by eastern natives, for canoes.  It also was also frequently used for making baskets.  The wood is commonly used for furniture, cabinets, plywood, and pulp and paper products, as well as firewood.  Paper Birch sap is tapped and made into syrup, wine, beer and medicinal tonics.

Use by Wildlife: Paper Birch is an important moose browse; deer also eat the leaves.  Hare, porcupines and beavers eat the bark and young saplings.  Birds, such as finches and chickadees, and small rodents, such as voles and shrews, eat Paper Birch seeds.  Grouse eat the catkins and buds.  Hummingbirds and squirrels may feed at sapwells created by sapsuckers.  Many cavity-nesting birds find homes in Paper Birch trees.

Shrubbier birches that may be encountered in the Pacific Northwest include: Resin Birch, B. glandulosa, Dwarf Birch, B. nana, Water Birch, B. occidentalis, and Bog Birch, B. pumila.  Water Birch is often used in ornamental landscapes.

 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

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

Red Alder, Alnus rubra

Red Alder                                                                                 The Birch Family–Betulaceae

 Alnus rubra Bong.

(AHL-nus ROOB-ruh)

Alnus rubra treesNames: Red Alder is sometimes called Oregon Alder.   Rubra means red– referring to the red dye made from its bark and the color of the wood when cut.

Relationships: There are about eight alder species that reach tree size in the United States and Canada, about 20 or 30 species worldwide.  White Alder, Alnus rhombifolia, is similar to Red Alder but is smaller; it is mostly an inland species is found in our range in northern Oregon.

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

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

Distribution: Red Alder is found from southeast Alaska to southern California, with some isolated communities in northern Idaho.

Growth: Red Alder grows rapidly and can reach 40-80 feet (15-25m).   It is relatively short-lived and rarely lives past 100 years.

Habitat:  Red Alder is most often found in moist woods and along streambanks.  It quickly colonizes recently cleared land.

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

 

 

 

 

Red Alder leaves are slightly rolled under at the margins.

Red Alder leaves are slightly rolled under at the margins.

Diagnostic Characters: Red Alder has thin, gray bark often with patches of white lichens.  Because of the whitish appearance of the bark, it is often confused with Paper Birch.  Its most distinguishing feature is its wavy, toothed leaves with revolute margins (edges that are slightly rolled under).  Long catkins appear in spring, before the leaves, producing copious amounts of pollen.  It produces small brown cone-like strobiles less than an inch (2cm) long that remain on the tree through the winter.

Woody female cone-like stabiles.

Woody female cone-like stabiles.

Alder bark with lichens and moss.

Alder bark with lichens and moss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alder trees at Camp Seymour

 

In the Landscape: Although many consider Red Alder a “weed” tree because it will often invade landscapes, this tree is the first choice for ecological restoration.  Red Alder is a host to nitrogen-fixing bacteria that form nodules on tree roots.  Because of this association, the introduction of Red Alder to disturbed sites can quickly improve the fertility of soils, making the site more amenable to colonization by longer-living conifers.  Red Alder can form attractive groves in young forests, especially along rivers and streams.

 

 

Phenology: Bloom Period:  February to April.  Alder pollen is a major allergen. The cone-like strobiles shed large amounts of small winged nutlets September to December.  Wind dissemination is very effective for natural regeneration.

Male catkins.

Male catkins.

Female strobiles with immature male strobiles in the background..

Female strobiles with immature male strobiles in the background..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation:  It is extremely easy to propagate by seed; no treatment is necessary, only sunlight is required.  “Volunteers” weeded out of other areas can be easily potted up or transplanted to more appropriate locations.

Use by people: The wood of Red Alder was second only to Cedars in its use for woodworking by natives.  Dishes, spoons, platters, masks and many other items were made from Red Alder wood.  Alder wood is considered the best wood for smoking salmon.  A red or orange dye was made from the bark to color red cedar bark and to make fishnets invisible to fish.  The bark of Red Alder was also valued for its medicinal qualities; it is known to have antibiotic properties and contains salicin, which is used to make aspirin.  Red Alder is the most important hardwood in the Pacific Northwest.  It is used for furniture, cabinetry, small manufactured items, paper and paper products.  The hard wood burns hot and relatively long, making it an excellent choice for firewood.

Use by wildlife: Finches eat the seeds of Red Alder.  Deer and elk eat the leaves, twigs and buds of young trees.  Stands of Red Alder are favorable habitat for deer, especially on hot days in summer and early fall. Beavers eat the bark and use the stems for building dams and lodges.

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 for Big Trees

Golden Chinquapin, Chrysolepis chrysophylla

Golden Chinquapin                                                                  The Beech Family–Fagaceae

Golden Chinquapin trees tend to be narrow and pyramidal.

Golden Chinquapin trees tend to be narrow and pyramidal.

Chrysolepis chrysophylla (Douglas x Hook.) Hjelmqvist

(Cry-so-LEE-pis  cry-so-FILL-uh)                   

Names: This evergreen tree has also been known as Castanopsis chrysophylla; Castanopsis means resembling chestnuts, (the genus Castanea).  Chrysolepis means golden scales; chrysophylla means golden leaves.  Both refer to the golden scales on the undersides of its leaves.  Chinquapin (also spelled Chinkapin) is thought to be from an Algonquin term for chestnut.

Relationships: Golden Chinquapin is a relative of chestnuts.  There are only two species in this genus; the Golden Chinquapin (aka Giant Chinquapin) the other is the Bush Chinquapin, Chrysolepis sempervirens, a shrub of California and southern Oregon.

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

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

Distribution: Golden Chinquapin is also mostly found in California and Oregon with two small disjunctive populations in Washington; one in Skamania County along the Columbia River Gorge, the other in Mason County close to the Hood Canal.  It is listed as a sensitive species in Washington State.

Growth: Golden Chinquapin grows slowly to 30-100 feet (10-30m).

Habitat: It is usually found on dry, open, south-facing sites and rocky ridgetops.  It can also be found in fairly thick woodlands.

Like related chestnuts or oaks, Chinquapins will produce galls induced by small wasps.

Like related chestnuts or oaks, Chinquapins will produce galls induced by small wasps.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The undersides of the leaves have fuzzy golden scales.

The undersides of the leaves have fuzzy golden scales.

Diagnostic Characters: This shrubby tree is easily recognized by its dark, glossy, lance-shaped leaves with golden scales on the undersurface.  It produces creamy, white flowers in upright catkins sometime between February and July.  In the fall, one to three nuts are produced in a spiny burr, resembling the husk of chestnuts.  The bark is smooth on young trees; on older trees it is thick and heavily furrowed, broken into reddish plates.

 

In the Landscape: Chinquapin is best grown as a specimen tree in drier parts of your garden.  Its rarity in our area and its distinctive appearance can add a contrasting element of texture to your landscape.

Golden Chinkapin flowersPhenology: Bloom Period:  Mid-June to mid-July. Nuts ripen in mid-August to early September; seeds are dispersed from September through December by birds and rodents, but will also just drop to the ground.

Propagation:  Sow nuts as soon as they are ripe, but protect them from rodents. Because of its sensitive status in Washington, be very conscientious and respectful when collecting in the wild!

Use by People: The wood of Golden Chinquapin is hard and strong but is rarely found in sufficient quantities to be useful commercially.  The nuts were roasted and eaten by natives of California and Southern Oregon.

The nuts are encased in a prickly husk.

The nuts are encased in a prickly husk.

Use by Wildlife: The nuts are nutritious and eaten by small mammals, but are produced too irregularly to be a major component of their diet. Jays enjoy them, too.  Golden Chinquapin is the only known host to the Golden Streak Butterfly.  This Butterfly is a Washington State threatened species and listed as sensitive by the US Forest Service.  It has been found associated with the Skamania County population but has not been found within the Mason County population.

A tall Chinquapin tree near the Hood Canal

A tall Chinquapin tree near the Hood Canal

 

 Links:

USDA Plants Database

Consortium of Pacific Northwest Herbaria

WTU Herbarium Image Collection, Plants of Washington, Burke Museum

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

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database (a related species)

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees

 

Pacific Madrone, Arbutus menziesii

Pacific Madrone                             TheHeath Family– Ericaceae

 Madrone TreeArbutus menziesii Pursh.                  

(ar-BYOO-tus   men-ZEE-zee-eye)

Names: The Pacific Madrone is the only common broadleaved evergreen tree in our region.  It is known by many names.  In the northwest it is more familiarly called Madrona, whereas in California it is more often called Madrone or sometimes Coast Madrono (Madrono is Spanish for Strawberry tree).  British Columbians simply call it Arbutus.  In fact there is a song, Arbutus Baby, about a Madrona seedling by the children’s musician “Raffi.” My son was excited to be able to explain to his classmates what an Arbutus was when his teacher played this song in his second grade class!

Arbutus menziesii bushRelationships: There are over 1,500 species of plants in ericaceae, including blueberries, huckleberries, cranberries, rhododendrons, heathers and salal.  All members have tubular flowers (usually four or five petals that are fused at the base).  Almost all grow in acid soils and depend on fungal mycorrrhiza for efficient uptake of water and nutrients.  Two other species of Arbutus found in the U.S. and Mexico are the Texas Madrone (A. texana) and the Arizona Madrone (A. arizonica). More familiar to gardeners is the Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo, which is native to the Mediterranean.

 

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

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

Distribution: Pacific Madrone is found along the pacific coast from southern British Columbia to San Diego County in California.

Madrone over Glen CoveGrowth: Pacific Madrone is the largest member of ericaceae, sometimes reaching 100 feet (34m) tall; usually 30 to 75 feet (10-25m).   One well-known tree on Cherry Street in Port Angeles, Washington has a circumference of over 20 feet (7m).  Madrones may live 250 years or more (some estimate that it may live 400-500 years). Whereas conifers show extreme apical dominance– where the top growing point relies on gravity to transport hormones that ensure it will grow with a straight trunk, Madrones, in contrast, are extremely phototropic, meaning that the top growing points will seek the sun.  In fact, when growing in the sun, Madrones tend to be more bush-like.  It is when they are growing in competition with other trees they grow taller, often leaning to seek out brightest spot.

Habitat: In our area Madrones are most often found on dry, sunny sites, often on bluffs above the seashore with a south or west exposure.  In the southern part of its range in California, it is found in moister valleys.

A small Madrona at the base of a Douglas Fir.

A small Madrona at the base of a Douglas Fir.

Diagnostic Characters: Pacific Madrone is easy to recognize by its leathery, oval-shaped leaves. Old leaves are shed in the summer.  Also in summer, especially where exposed to the sun, the cinnamon-colored bark peels off to reveal smooth, light green, younger bark that turns golden with age. Older Madrones, growing in a forest, retain a scaly, reddish brown bark.  White, urn-shaped flowers, in large drooping clusters, make an appearance in spring, followed by orange-red berries with a bumpy or granular surface in autumn.

Peeling bark on a young tree.

Peeling bark on a young tree.

 

Thicker bark on a mature tree

Thicker bark on a mature tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossy green leaes of Madrone

Glossy green leaes of Madrone

Madrone more peeling bark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madrona leaves can be messy.

Madrona leaves can be messy.

In the landscape, Madrone gets mixed reviews.  Many people love their attractive peeling bark, evergreen leaves, and showy flowers and fruit.  Other people bemoan their messy nature, the fact that they drop leaves and bark throughout the summer.  For this reason, Madrones should not be planted next to a patio or in a lawn.  Another reason Madrones should not be planted in an irrigated lawn is because it susceptible to a root rot, Phytophthora cactorum.  Madrones also do not respond well to disturbance.  When tall, skinny Madrones that were once growing in a forest, are exposed to the sun, their bark begins to peel.  These, thin-barked trees are much more susceptible to the canker disease, Nattrassia mangiferae.  Pruning cuts may also provide easy access to the pathogen. Leaf spots that are caused by many different fungi also can make a Madrone unsightly.  Sometimes leaves will turn totally brown, but will recover when new leaves are produced in the spring.  If this has been a problem, old leaves should be raked up and destroyed to limit reinfection.  Despite all its problems, Madrone is a worthy tree. It can prove its magnificence if it is planted in a west or south-facing exposure, rarely irrigated, and left to its own devices.

Phenology: Bloom Period:  Mid-March-June. Berries ripen mid-September to mid-November; seeds are dispersed by birds and rodents, but will also just drop to the ground.Madrone berriesMadrone flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Propagation: Seeds need to be separated from the berry, then given a cold-moist stratification at 40ºF (4ºC) for 60 days– or plant them outside in fall for natural stratification.

Use by people: The wood can be made into attractive veneer, furniture and hardwood floors.  The wood varies in color from very light to a dark purple.  It makes excellent firewood.  The berries are edible but were rarely eaten by natives.

Use by Wildlife: The berries are an important food for pigeons, doves, thrushes and robins.  Wood rats will also eat the fruit and deer will eat the foliage.  Madrone is also a preferred tree species for cavity-nesting birds, especially woodpeckers, nuthatches, and wrens.  Songbirds, small owls and mammals such as raccoons, porcupines and squirrels will move in to cavities abandoned by woodpeckers.  As with all members of ericaceae, the flowers attract pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.

Note: For my master’s thesis I studied the Possible Causes of Decline for the Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii) (1995). and presented my findings at the Proceedings of the April 28, 1995 Symposium: “The Decline of Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii Pursh): Current Theory and Research Directions.”

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

Native Plants Network, Propagation Protocol Database

Plants for a Future Database

Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn

National Register of Big Trees