The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 4 - Vuelta a Iberia - CycleBlaze

September 13, 2019

The Portland Heritage Tree Quest: Group 4

One for the road

I hadn’t really been planning another quest outing before departure, but when I woke up this morning I reconsidered.  I have some errands to run downtown, and there are so many heritage trees clustered here in the northeast that it would be easy enough to pick up another set on my way downtown without adding much distance.  Over morning coffee I sit by the window and keep one eye on Rodriguez locked up outside while I cull through the inventory for a suitable set with the other.

I haven’t been to Common Grounds in almost eighteen months, but nothing much has changed. This old sweetheart was guarding the front door the last time I was here!
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I’m curious to see the first tree on the list, a Zelkova, partly because I’m intrigued by its exotic name.  I’ve never heard of it before, and wonder about its origins - it sounds like it could be Slavic.  And it is - Georgian, actually.  It’s a member of the elm family, but not an elm.  It’s an impressive tree, alright, with a full, arched crown that reminds me of the huge elm in Overlook Park.

#192, Zelkova serrata (Zelkova) height 60’, circ. 12.9’, spread 69.
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Like most of today’s set, our Zelkova isn’t situated the best for a good viewing. This one is in someone’s back yard, walled off by a solid fence.
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The next tree, a huge poplar, impresses for its size and by how vertical it is.  Unlike some trees, this one stands out immediately.  As soon as I turn the corner onto it’s street, I know immediately which tree I’m looking for.

#90, Populis x canadensis (Carolina poplar) height 123’, circ. 21’, spread 92’.
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Look at the bark on this thing! It’s so deeply grooved, with the ribs sometimes cross-stitched.
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The next tree, a Japanese pine, is one I’m sure I saw before on our tour of Japan.  Plenty of our photos from that tour have pines in them, but only incidentally as there was so much else to focus on and be astonished by on that tour that trees didn’t really come into focus.  If/when we go back I’m sure they’ll get more attention.

#68, Pinus densiflora (Japanese red pine) height 47’, circ. 11.3’, spread 30. This specimen, directly across the street from Laurelhurst Park, is another one that’s hard to get a really clear view of.
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Another Japanese tree!  We’ll definitely have to go back one of these years.  Looks like a trip back to Japan is a question of when, not if, Rocky.

This one, out in plain view in Laurelhurst Park, was hard for me to locate at first.  There are many fine trees in this park, any one of which looks like a candidate heritage tree.  The main problem though was that I didn’t know what I was looking for.  I was thinking that Katsura was a variety of plum for no earthly reason, maybe thinking of satsumas.  Language racism!  Apparently I think all Japanese words look alike.

#160, Cercidiphyllum japonicum (Katsura) height 69’, circ. 11.9’, spread 64. Its such a graceful tree - it looks like it would slip nicely inside an enormous bud vase.
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Its erect, vertical growth pattern reminds me of the Carolina poplar we saw earlier.
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The Katsura is another tree I’d like to see a bit later in the season. A few of its leaves are just beginning to turn. Just enough to give you a hint of what’s to come.
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I’ve biked beneath this bur oak a few times (note that it’s on a bike route) without looking up to see how majestic it is.  I’ve known of the bur oak and its distinctive leaf shape since learning of it from the field guide of my childhood, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one before now.

#304, Quercus macrocarpa (Bur oak) height 108’, circ. 14.4’, spread 93’.
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Today’s huge river birch is another tree I’d like to see in a more favorable setting, rather than here where it’s cluttered by power lines and parked cars.  I’m getting too picky.

#288, Betula negra (River birch) height 82’, circ. 10.7, spread 83’.
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Jen GrumbyI agree. This tree would look much better without the surrounding human clutter.
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2 months ago
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Wouldn’t this be a nicer shot out in the open somewhere?
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The catalpa is the only tree on today’s list I knew how to identify going in, and I spot it immediately as I approach.  I’ve known it for its huge leaves and long pods, but haven’t noticed its profile before.  It’s another vertical giant, like the poplar and Katsura.

#39, Catalpa speciosa (Northern catalpa) height 71’, circ. 13.7’, spread 65.
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Jen GrumbyLove this shot!
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2 months ago

The final tree of the day, the wych elm, is one of a pair.  I wouldn’t know wych was wych without the telltale nameplate.  It’s a surprising species.  Native to England (and allegedly England’s only native elm), it has the widest range of any European elm: it extends all the way from Ireland to the Urals, and from the Arctic Circle to the Peloponnese.

The word wych (also spelled witch), by the way,  comes from the Old English word wice, meaning pliant or supple, which also gives wicker and weak.  I think it also explains the naming of witch hazel, but I’m not sure.

Although looking at these two individuals, neither pliant nor weak come to mind.  I’m thinking robust, sturdy, something along those lines.

#210, Ulmus glabra (Wych elm) height 115’, circ. 15.5’, spread 88.
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Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like your connection with witch hazel is correct!

https://www.etymonline.com/search?q=witch%20hazel&ref=searchbar_searchhint
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2 months ago
Pliant and weak? I don’t think so.
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So, that’s it for today.  I had two other trees mapped out for today: a Japanese (!) maple that wasn’t impressive enough for me - I’ll wait for a better example, since there are others to choose from; and a shellbark hickory that I couldn’t get access to - it looks like it might be in someone’s backyard, hidden from the street.  There’s one more shagbark in the inventory, so I’ll try that one out first before giving up.

So, only eight trees today; but better than I was planning when I got up this morning.  I complete my few errands and then Roddy and I reward ourselves by heading over to the Lucky Lab for one last time this year.

Hanging out with the big dogs one last time.
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Shifting gears

So that’s it for the Tree Quest for the season.  It’s Sunday morning now, the rains have settled in, and it’s time to close out the chapter.  Time to shut down shop here and move on to Iberia.  We’ve made a good start with the quest though, with 33 species on the books and 87 to go.  With a good year we might complete the circuit next year, but 2021 seems more likely.

Before we go, let’s have one last look around home - we won’t be back here for another five months.

Elizabeth, celebrating her blue ribbon win in the Bridge of the Goddess race, across the Bridge of the Gods that we saw in the Columbia Gorge a few posts back. Competing in the 10k walking event, Elizabeth took first place in her age group. Well done, sis!
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The leaves start falling early here on the boardwalk beside Jamieson Park, one of the early signs that autumn is around the corner. I always enjoy this view - it makes me think of Paris somehow.
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Another harbinger of autumn - some of the Japanese maples are starting to turn. I’ve been passing this tree on my walk to and from Albina Press for my morning coffee this week.
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I don’t want to leave the neighborhood without remembering the surface of some of its streets. It looks like a composite of pavement and crushed basalt, an early building material here. They don’t make them like this any more, thankfully.
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I’ve gotten attached to this paperbark maple right outside our apartment door.
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Time to break camp. We’ll see you in Santiago!
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Keeping Score:

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

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

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

Group 4 (8 species): Zelkova, Carolina poplar, Japanese red pine, Katsura, bur oak, river birch, catalpa, wych elm.

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

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