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Parks & Recreation

Healthy Parks, Healthy Portland

Phone: 503-823-PLAY (7529)

Fax: 503-823-6007

1120 SW Fifth Ave., Suite 1302, Portland, OR 97204

A blog highlighting Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry news and activities 

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2014 Dutch Elm Disease Toll


Portland Dutch Elm Disease Program

Every spring, Portland’s elm trees wake up with extraordinary beauty from the long winter rest.  Bright green leaves, small round seeds and microscopic green flowers greet walkers in Portland’s neighborhoods and parks.  But behind these beautiful scenes there is a silent stalker that threatens every one of our City’s Elms – the deadly duo of Ophiostoma ulmi  and Ophiostoma novo-ulmiI. Known collectivey as Dutch Elm Disease.

Ophiostoma grows in the elm’s vascular system starving the tree of water. Once an elm is infected death is quick, with leaves browning and the dead bark provided habitat for the elm bark beetle.  A quick removal is the best hope of preventing the fungi from spreading to nearby elm trees by root grafts or the elm bark beetle.      

Portlanders are vigilant about fighting the spread of DED,  this year Save our Elms in Eastmoreland and Ladds Addition inoculated 115 Street trees and Portland Parks & Recreation inoculated 148 park trees to prevent the spread of Ophiostoma.  But each year we loose a few of our most  majestic elms to DED, and 2014 is no different, with Portland loosing 35 elm trees including 18 street trees, 2 park trees and 15 yard trees.

We are thankful to the great work of Urban Forestry Elm Monitor Emily Wilson, Save Our Elms and the many Portlanders who helped identify DED infected trees to insure a quick removal. For more information on how to spot DED, the DED management program and the 2014 DED Report, please click here.

Ladd Elm  Ankeny Elm

Park Blocks Elm Stump  Richmond School Elm

Top: Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry removing Elm street trees at SE Ladd Street and (top right) SE Ankeny.   Above: Elm stump in the South Park Blocks, and (above right) Elm Monitor Emily Wilson (center) with Parks and Portland Public School staff at Richmond Elementary School, SE 47 and Division.

Fall Tree Identification Fun with Fruit & Seeds


Test your seed identifciaton knowledge, answer key at bottom

How well can you identify tree species without leaves? Although leaves are now on their way out for our deciduous friends, many trees are proudly displaying fruit. Test your knowledge on the following fun finds from a recent walk at Hoyt Arboretum. Although not all of these species were found in this year's street tree inventory, they might make great street trees! 

Catalpa  Japanese hornbeam (Carpinus japonica)  Hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium)

 Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis)  California buckeye (Aesculus californica)  Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica)

 Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)  Dove tree (Davidia involucrata)  Jack tree (Sinojackia xylocarpa)

Top Row: Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), Japanese hornbeam (Carpinus japonica), and Hornbeam maple (Acer carpinifolium).

Middle Row: Japanese raisin tree (Hovenia dulcis), California buckeye (Aesculus californica), and Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica).

Bottom Row: Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), Dove tree (Davidia involucrata), and Jack tree (Sinojackia xylocarpa)

Portland Heritage Trees - Our Shared History

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Heritage Tree #54 European Copper Beech: A Fine Architectural Investment

By David-Paul B. Hedberg
Portland State University Graduate Editorial Fellow
Pacific Historical Review

Hertiage Beach #54

This impressive European copper beech (Fagus sylvatica f. purpurea) now stands as the centerpiece to the Portland State University Library.  The tree itself is much older than the building around it, dating back to the 1890s when the Watson family made an investment by planting it in front of their house. 

Joseph Franklin Watson came to Portland in 1871 and became a partner in Smith & Watson Iron Works, which produced many of the city’s cast iron storefronts and fire hydrants that are still in use today. PSU acquired the Watson home in 1965, and by 1968, had demolished the house to build the campus library. For unknown reason the beach tree was saved and the tree and grassy area in front of the library became feature of student life.

By the 1970s, the growth of PSU signaled a need for a larger library. The expansion of the library incorporated the tree its design.  Architects made a choice to build around it, further highlighting trees as architectural features.

While a lot has changed over 120 years, the Watson’s beech tree has remained a prominent feature of the park blocks. Today the tree is the library’s defining feature and it is our only existing link back to the first period of development on this block. Like many trees, it’s a fine architectural investment that took generations to mature. In 1995, it became a Portland Heritage Tree, ensuring that this investment will benefit generations to come. 

Above left: PSU Copper Beach tree in 1975. Image from: Campus pictures; crowd on lawn in front of Library, copper beech tree, 6/75, University Archives, Portland State University Library.  Above right: 1890s Copper Beach Tree as it looks today. Author’s Personal Photo, Aug. 2014.

David-Paul B. Hedberg will be speaking about Heritage Trees' link to Portland's past on Wednesday, October 1 from 12-12:30 pm in Room C of the Portland Building (1120 SW 5th Avenue, second floor)

Heritage Tree Talk Oct. 1

Come see how Portland's urban forest is rooted in our city's history

PP&R Urban Forestry & Portland State University Present:

From Stumptown to Tree Town: Interpreting Portland's History Through Its Heritage Trees
A Lunch-and-Learn Event

Wednesday, October 1
The Portland Building
1120 SW 5th Ave.
2nd Floor, Room C

Heritage Tree Talk Oct. 1

Invasive Tree Alert--You Can Help!

By Lee Greer, Tree Steward, Sunnyside Street Tree Team

Do you recognize this plant? It’s a young tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), a nuisance tree that can crowd out native plants and others we want in our gardens. It can also damage sidewalks, streets, foundations and sewers. It’s especially problematic because when you cut it down, it aggressively tries to reestablish itself by prolific root sprouting.

The Sunnyside Street Tree Team (S2T2) Tree-of-Heaven Information Project is working to educate the community about this tree, which we see invading parts of our neighborhood. We will be inventorying in Sunnyside any tree-of-heaven visible from the public right-of-way and leaving information for residents where we see the tree.

Would you like to join us in our inventory? If so, e-mail us at for more information or to volunteer.  Also, see our Tree-of-Heaven Information sheet here