The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 3 - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

September 12, 2019

The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 3

We’re settled in at our basement apartment near the base of Mount Tabor - our launching pad for springing to Spain next week.  It’s a lovely place, in another beautiful heritage neighborhood with a similar feel to Irvington.  I especially like the fact that there’s a pretty paperbark maple directly outside our door.  It’s a place we’d be fine with a longer stay at, if it weren’t a bit too far from the core than we’d prefer.

It’s not where we expected to be for this last week though.  We thought we’d be over in the Alphabet District in NW Portland, but our reservation (which we made with AirBnb months ago) was cancelled without notice on the day before we were due to check in.  We landed here near Mount Tabor as the best place we could find available on such short notice.

I won’t go into the details here about why we were cancelled or how AirBnb dealt with it - I think there was some confusion or mistake on the owner’s part because they let us know later that they were disappointed that WE had cancelled! - but I will say that we came out of it with uncharitable thoughts about AirBnb as an organization.  Stay by stay, we’re gradually building a list of reasons we aren’t quite enamored with them.

Contemplative, or just in a stupor waiting for the caffeine to kick in?
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I wake up this morning feeling intensely conflicted.  It’s a beautiful warm, sunny day - maybe the last one we’ll see before leaving Portland for the year - and it would be perfect for a long, physically challenging ride somewhere.  On the other hand, there’s the Heritage Tree Quest nagging at my conscience.  Shouldn’t I be taking advantage of these last few days to chip away at the tree inventory?  

Forty miles with plenty of hills, versus ten miles stitching together some of the city’s finest.  A tough choice, but in the end I’m swayed by the fact that Spain has an abundance of hills, but a complete lack of Portland Heritage Trees.  The Quest it is!

The route I’ve mapped out includes ten trees, all within a few miles of home.  There are so many heritage trees in the immediate vicinity here in East Portland, and if I wanted to put in a longer day I could easily find 25 new species without straying far from home.  I pick just ten, mostly because I want to limit the size of the blog entry and allow time to give each tree the attention it deserves.

First up is this fine ginkgo, just a few blocks down the street.  The ginkgo is a fascinating tree, with very old origins - fossil remains have been found from 270 million years ago.  Some specimens live up to a thousand years.  It’s one of my favorites, especially in autumn when it turns such a glorious yellow.

#205, Gingko biloba (Gingko) height 70’, circ. 5.5’, spread 42’.
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Bill ShaneyfeltAlso interesting how they shed their leaves all of a sudden...
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltYes. I almost mentioned that myself. One day they’re yellow, and the next they’re bare with a yellow blanket beneath their feet. Pretty great show.
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2 months ago
I’m surprised by the leaves of this one. The ones I have associate with the tree have a fairly uniform fan shape, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen one with such deep splits.
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Tree number two, a paradox walnut, is only a few blocks away; or would be, if it still existed.  It looks to me like the tree was removed to make way for a new set of row houses.  I’m sure I have the right location (the exact address is listed in the inventory), but even that street number appears to no longer exist.  It might be a recent loss, because it looks like the huge tree is still shown on Google Earth.

A shame, because I wanted to see what the paradox was.  This was the only instance of the tree in the inventory, so I’ll remove it from the target list.

The sign for this new development should include a note that tree 323, a paradox walnut, used to live here. As near as I can tell, the inventory is out of date and the tree no longer exists.
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Jen GrumbyHoly crap! $7k taxes on a 1275 SF home ??

I'll take the reincarnation of the paradox walnut.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekI second that! Insane.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHow funny. I didn’t bother reading anything on this. Leave it to you to zero in on the key facts.
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanYou should definitely leave a note on this sign about the tree having been murdered just for development.
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2 months ago

I think the crape myrtle might be the prettiest tree of the quest so far.  It is really beautiful - colorful, graceful - but it really puzzles me at first once I find it, on the property of Van Veen Nursery.  It looks nothing like what I expected, because I had misread its name and thought it was a crape maple, not a myrtle.  I don’t figure it out until I’m up close and read its name plate.

#288, Lagerstroemia indica (Crape myrtle) height 27’, circ. 4.2’, spread 27.
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Bruce LellmanThis sounds like a paradox as well.
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2 months ago
A native of China and Korea, I think this is one of the prettiest trees imaginable. Such wonderful color. It makes a bike tour in Korea sound very tempting.
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Bruce LellmanThis sounds like something I would do; base an entire bike trip around seeing a certain kind of tree on the other side of the earth.
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2 months ago
This was lucky - I think this was the only spray in blossom today.
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Even the bark detritus beneath the crape maple is attractive.
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The remainder of the day’s trees all still exist, and are relatively easy to find.  I’m doing well with my methodology and everything goes as smoothly as can be expected - it especially helps that I took the time to make some location notes in advance, to help me quickly zoom in on the vicinity of each tree.  Still though, it’s quite a slow process.  Even though I know where I’m going and everything is close together, it takes time to finally locate each tree, and to take a respectful amount of time to admire each one.  By the time I’m done I bike only 11 miles, but it takes me two and a half hours.  I end up with nearly as much time stopped as moving.

A good outing though - fully successful, except for the vanished paradox walnut.  With four more days left before departure, this might be the last outing for the year.  We’ll see how trip preparations go, and what the weather brings.

#156, Quercus rubra (Northern red oak) height 110’, circ. 18.4’, spread 100’.
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The Northern red oak, native to eastern North America, is another tree I remember from my youth in West Virginia. They can be truly massive. I’m a bit sorry this one isn’t better located, and might look for another example along the way.
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I think I remember this leaf from my childhood, when I used to gather tree leaves in autumn and preserve them by dipping them in molten paraffin.
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#209, Cedrus deodara (Deodar cedar) height 104’, circ. 13.4’, spread 57’. Native to the western Himalayas, its name means Timber of the Gods.
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I’m realizing from this quest how dim my knowledge is of cedars. The deodar cedar (a true cedar) looks nothing like the red and Alaska cedars I’ve always known of. In fact, all three are from different families - the red cedar is actually a juniper, and the Alaska yellow cedar is a cypress.
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This deodar cedar is a female, identifiable as such by its upright, barrel shaped cones.
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Jacquie GaudetI would never have guessed it's a cedar because I always thought cedars had the scaly needles. Of course, I'm thinking of the usual coastal red and yellow "cedars".
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI had the same reaction, after living around red cedars all my life. It looks more like a pine or fir to me.
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2 months ago
#62, Tilia platyphyllos (Bigleaf linden) height 126’, circ. 15.5’, spread 88’.
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The linden (family Tilia) is another tree I’ve been confused by. In England it’s known as the lime tree; and the American member of the family, which we saw earlier in the quest, is the basswood.
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Tiny pea-like fruits are characteristic of all members of the Tilia family.
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#152, Sequoiadendron giganteum (Giant sequoia) height 139’, circ. 25.7’, spread 56’.
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The giant sequoia, growing to a height of 275’ and a circumference of 90’, is the largest tree species in the world. This one is fairly modest, but it’s well placed here on Mount Tabor where you can get a good look at it.
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Let’s remember these leaves. Maybe with practice we’ll get the hang of recognizing the difference between sequoias and redwoods.
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#301, Sequoia sempervirens (Coast redwood) height 131’, circ. 20.1’, spread 72’.
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I’ve always thought of sequoias and redwoods interchangeably, but they aren’t even in the same family. Paradoxically, the coast redwood is in the sequoia family, but the giant sequoia is not.
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See the difference? How could you possibly confuse a sequoia and a redwood?
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#207, Styphnolobium japonica (Japanese pagoda tree) height 77’, circ. 8.7’, spread 54’. This tree is another one that could be placed better - it’s so cramped in here, and obviously needs more space. The neighbor came out to discuss the tree also, commenting on the mess it makes in her yard.
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A tree with an impressive backstory.
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Jen GrumbyWow! Definitely a great story.

Would love to hear the stories the tree could tell about its journey.
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2 months ago
It’s a good thing I brought my zoom camera today, because the lowest leaves were too high up to get a good look at otherwise.
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#106, Prunus x ‘Shirotae’ (Mount Fuji flowering cherry) height 34’, circ. 4.7’, spread 37’.
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Odd to be ending up with two Japanese species in a row. This one is so contorted! The woman of the house, from Uruguay, came out to discuss it with me and said she thought it had been trained to this twisted shape.
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Keeping Score:

Round 1 (7 species):  grand fir, willow oak, hedge maple, Douglas fir, incense cedar, tulip tree, sugar maple.

Round 2 (9 species): silver maple, Japanese cedar, oriental plane tree, European beech, American chestnut, copper beech, mockernut hickory, basswood, butternut.

Round 3 (9 species): ginkgo, crape maple, northern red oak, deodar cedar, bigleaf linden, giant sequoia, coast redwood, Japanese pagoda tree, Mount Fuji flowering cherry.

Dropped (1 species): paradox maple, which I couldn’t find and may no longer exist.

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Jen GrumbySorry to hear about the Airbnb snafu!

Hope you get a full and quick refund.
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanSo, at the beginning of this post you mention a paradox walnut and somewhere in the middle you refer to the missing paradox maple. I'm so confused. Also, I'm wondering why the Brits would refer to a linden as a lime. I'm going to start calling linden trees paradox limes.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanParadoxically, I don’t see what you’re talking about, maple-wise. I’m glad you raised the point though, because it prompted me to do the research on the origin of this curious name. I finally found it:

Plant breeder Luther Burbank experimented with hybrid walnuts beginning in the 1890s, and cross pollinated the native Claro Walnut with English Walnut. The resulting hybrid was quite puzzling: the tree grew grew faster than either of the parent species, and also yielded harder and stronger lumber (though unfortunately it didn’t produce very many walnuts). Because of these anomalies, Burbank named the hybrid “Paradox.”

Sadly, I can’t find any reference explaining why lindens are called limes; or why they’re called basswood either, for that matter.
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2 months ago