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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 Urban Forestry news and activities 

What did the tree see?

Honorable Mentions in National Essay Competition for 5th and 6th Graders.

Congratulations to Narain and Vivienne, two Beverly Cleary 5th graders, who received honorable mention citations for their submissions to the national What Did The Tree See? essay contest awarded by the Alliance for Community Trees. 

Wonderful job Narain and Vivienne and happy Arbor Month!

What I See by Narain

"I had  lived in a yard for 100 years.  My life was still and dull.  Sometimes I wished that my roots would turn into legs, and I could get up and walk away, but as I sat there my thoughts came to the conclusion of doubt.  However on day my life changed. A boy who I recall was named Ashton, was my new hope for a friend."  Read More


I Am A Tree by Vivienne

"I am a tree

In the winter I smell

I smell the eggnog people are drinking

I feel

I feel the snow landing on by bark

I see I see children planing in the snow

I hear

I hear a fire roaring in the fire place"

Read More


Today, in recognition of the great work by Beverly Cleary students, Tree Steward Volunteers,  Portland Parks & Recreation, and Portland Public Schools are helping students plant three trees on school grounds.



Spectacular Magnolias

Hoyt Arboretum Arbor Month Walk

It is Portland, and a spicy, wet day at the Hoyt Arboretum where Martin Nicholson, Hoyt Arboretum Curator, gave a tour of the Magnolia collection. Part of our heritage here is in the history of plant collecting which enables plant selection, but is also in our inherited system of classification. The Arboretum uses the family class to organize plantings, so the visitor is walking through a reified classification system rather than just through plants arranged by aesthetics or randomly. The Hoyt Arboretum also posses an Herbarium, and curator, Erin Riggs, will be giving a formal workshop on collecting and documenting specimens on April 27 and May 4. After the workshop on the 27th, head on over to the Holgate Library - 7905 S.E. Holgate Blvd. for a Tree Steward sponsored ID class from 2:00 PM to 3:30 PM.

Looking for more Arbor Month Events at Hoyt Arboretum? 

History of Hoyt Arboretum Walk And Talk (April 7th)

Tree Care Day (April 9th)

Trees of Greater Portland:Stories with Phyllis Reynolds (April 14th)

Tree ID Walk with Ed Jensen (April 24th)

Conifer Work Party (April 26th)

Spring Blossom Tour (April 28th)

Heritage Tree Dedication (April 30th)Magnolia Tree Walk

Magnolia Tree Walk


Arbutus menzeisii, the Pacific Madrone or Madrona

Learn about trees

The Pacific Madrone is an easily recognized tree, a veritable barrage of color and interest year round.  A broadleaf evergreen, the madrone (aka madroño, madroña, and bearberry) gets its name from the Spanish for its resemblance to the Mediterranean strawberry tree.  Madrones have thin, peeling, red bark, revealing a bright green-to-chartreuse layer beneath.  In late spring the tree is a mass of fragrant flowers attracting pollinators, and in the late autumn its red-orange fruit is a much-loved food source to birds.  The fruit was also popular with tribes living along the Pacific coast, who ate the berries raw, dried, and soaked.  The leaves of the madrone were used for medicinal purposes, including treatment of stomach aches and skin sores. The wood of the madrone is quite dense, making a fine fuel.

Madrones are shade intolerant and do well on rocky, poor soil, and even tolerate salty water, growing for example quite close the high tide line along the Puget Sound.  Among the coastal redwoods, madrones grow straight; however around here you are more likely to see, as Edward Jensen describes in Trees to Know in Oregon, a tree that “leans and twists as if seeking a better view of the world.”  While seemingly hearty, the trees have been declining in our urban areas where they suffer from exposure to irrigation, yard chemicals, and the impacts of construction.  A single madrone graces the Heritage Tree list, #43, which can be found at the end ofWygant St. inNorth Portland – leaning out for a better view. 

Heritage Tree #43

Sequoia sempervirens, the coast redwood

Learn about trees

In a warmer, wetter world, the genus Sequoia could be found in broad swaths across the northern hemisphere.  Today they are refugees on the edges of northern California, where they are protected by mild temperatures and bathed in coastal fog.  These trees are among the tallest in the world, the tallest stretching 379 feet towards the sun.  Coast redwood are also exceptionally long lived.  While 500-700 years is most common, many redwoods are more than 1,000 and some more than 2,000 years old.  These sempervirens (“evergreen,” or as some like to interpret, “ever living”) are remarkably resilient, resistant to rot and insects, able survive fire and wind torn tops.  Unfortunately, they are not so fast growing that they could keep up with the tremendous pace of logging in the 19th century, which reduced the remaining redwood groves to 4% of their extent. 

Redwoods are widely planted, and many are to be found around Portland.  Three Sequoia sempervirens grace the Heritage Tree list, as do seven of their near cousins Sequoiadendron giganteum (including #125 on the Arbor Month Heritage Treesure Map).  In a visit to #301, the largest coast redwood the list, with its tiny cones and feathery foliage, I was most struck by how commonplace the tree seemed.  Guarding the entrance to a parking lot, I could have walked right past it.  Perhaps inPortland it is too easy to take remarkable trees for granted.Hertiage Tree #301Heritage Tree #301

Trees Talk History

Taking About Trees: Arbor Month Lecture Series

Trees are living legacies.  Our state heritage trees help tell the stories of how the place we know as Oregoncame to be.  Bring your lunch and join us on April 10th to hear State Heritage Tree Committee Member Jennifer Karps tell a few of the stories these magnificent trees have to tell and learn more about the program that recognizes them.   

Oregon State Heritage Tree Committee

Oregon State Heritage Tree Committee Members pose with the Witness Tree.

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