Category Archives: Trees

Lodgepole pine (pinus contorta)

The lodgepole pine (pinus contorta, or shore pine) is a common evergreen conifer in the Pacific Northwest. It is able to grow as a shrub, but the tree variety can reach between 40 and 50 meters in height. It has needles 1 1/2 to 2 inches long, dark and shiny. The female cones it produces are egg-shaped, brown-red and are very resinous and pointed. The male cone needs fire to break open and release its seeds. Fire ecology of the lodgepole pine can be interrupted when excessive fire prevention practices are undergone.



Coast redwood

Sequoia sempervirens, or coastal redwood, is a magnificent, monoecious evergreen tree that can live very long (1,800+ years) and reach up to 379 feet in height. It occurs naturally along the coast of California and the southewestern coast of Oregon. It is an excellent tree for lumber, so much that after the logging spree of the 1850s, it is estimated that 95% of old growth redwoods were cut down. Its crown is conical and it has very thick bark (up to 12 inches). The needles are arranged mostly in two dimensions, less than one inch long, and have dual white lines underneath. The coast redwood and conveniently has both seed and pollen cones on the same tree, making it self-reproducing. Growth however is low, with seed viability below 15% germination.


Sitka spruce (picea sitchensis)

The Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is a coniferous evergreen, typically up to 70 meters tall and two meters in diameter, but can get as high as 100 meters tall. It is the largest spruce, as well as the fifth largest tree in the world, and the third largest conifer. It is immediately characterized by the branches with spirally-arranged needles that are stiff and very sharp. They can get up to three centimeters long, and have two lines of stomata on the upper surface of the needle. The needles themselves are flattened yet four-sided. It produces bright red pollen cones, up to eight centimeters long, with irregular, wavy and thin scales.

Ponderosa pine (pinus ponderosa)

Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa willamettensis) is a type of pine that prefers more inland sites. Also known as the yellow pine, it is characterized by its long needles, grouped into threes ten to twenty centimeters long. Its scaly bark is cinnamon-brown and to some smells like vanilla. Its cones are prominent, usually in groups of threes, shaped like an egg. The scales are thick with triangular, pointed tips arranged in a spiral pattern down the center. It is associated with Douglas-fir in many inner forests of the Pacific coast, as far east as Oklahoma and as south as Texas.


Western redcedar

The Western Redcedar (Thuja plicata [thoo-yah plee-kaata], Pacific redcedar, giant cedar, shinglewood) is a magnificent coniferous evergreen in the cypress family Cupressaceae. It is home in western North America, and can reach up to sixty meters tall. Its branches are like the incense-cedar in that they droop down slightly then bend up. Bark is very unique; red-brown to gray and fibrous. The leaves on the redcedar are scale-like, opposite pairs in four rows. In the two pairs, one pair is folded, the others closely pressed against the stem. Unlike an incense-cedar that grows in symmetry, the needles on the redcedar tend to be to one side. It produces numerous, egg-shaped, red seed cones with eight to twelve scales, and prefers moist, shaded soil.


Vine maple (acer circinatum)

The vine maple (Acer circinatum) is a deciduous maple shrub/small tree that can grow to seven meters tall. The branches are very independent and tend to root and form new thickets of vine maple. The stems become pale green and dull brown with time. It has maple leaves, as the name implies, which are oppositely arranged. They can reach five to twelve centimeters across, and differ from other maples with seven to nine lobes, toothed and hairy underneath. It produces white flowers six to nine millimeters across, those of which are arranged in clusters at the end of the shoots. It produces winged fruits two to four centimeters long, each pair with its own set of widely-spaced wings, which enable them to travel farther for seed dispersal. It prefers moist places and can survive under other canopies, typically where light can enter the forest floor, but sometimes at the edges of forests and ecotones.


Red alder (alnus rubra)

The red alder (Alnus rubra) is a tall deciduous tree, reaching twenty-five meters in height. It has thin bark similar to birch; thin, grey (instead of white), and thin like paper. It is frequently occupied by lichens, and has inner red bark. The leaves of the red alder are deciduous and alternately arranged, broad and elliptic. The margins are slightly rolled under 8and wavy, with blunt, coarse teeth. They can reach five to fifteen centimeters long and are dull green on top. The flowers it produces are small catkins, appearing before the leaves. The female catkins can reach two centimeters long, the males can reach five to twelve centimeters long. The fruits it bears are brown cones up to two centimetrs long, which overwinter with the branches of the tree. It prefers moist forests and stream banks.