Meet Some of Our Favorite Heritage Trees

Blog Post
Nomination for new Heritage Trees closes May 1, 2023. Read about some of the already recognized trees. Get inspired to nominate a special tree in your neighborhood.

Learn About Our Heritage Trees 

We'd like to introduce to you a few of our favorites from around the city. The heritage trees on this short list are in public spaces or easy to view from the sidewalk in private yards. We encourage you to stop by to admire their beauty if you ever have time.

Heritage trees aren’t only recognized for their old age, but also for their height, rarity, or historical significance.

Heritage Tree nominations are due May, 1 2023. For details see, Nominate a Heritage Tree.

American Elm, a Beauty with History

Portland’s First designated Heritage Tree. Located at 1111 SW 10th Street, this beauty is an American Elm (Ulmus americana) with a lot of history. It was first planted by the Burrell family in 1870 when Portland only existed on the west side of the Willamette River. While the neighborhood has changed a lot, the tree remains a strong reminder of simpler time in Portland. You can learn more about its history in the From Stumptown to Tree Town book written by local environmental Historian Dave Hedberg.

Beech Beauty

tree in front of building
European Copper Beech tree on PSU’s campus

Heritage tree #54 is a statuesque European Copper Beech (Fagus sylvatica) tree found on PSU’s campus. It was planted in the 1890’s and currently stands in front of the university’s library. Planted by the Watson family on their private property (before it was bought by the university), it is the only remaining piece of development on its block from that time period. You can also learn more about its history in Hedberg’s book.

Watch out Belgium 

An example of a heritage prized for its horticultural significance is heritage tree #385. This tree is a Katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum).  This recently designated tree is located in Pier Park within the disc golf course at Hole 4. The heritage tree is the largest of a group of four katsura trees. They are somewhat hidden in a small depression in the east part of the park.  The tree is quite tall, probably due to competition with surrounding tall conifers.  It may be fairly young—David Hedberg believes the species was not commonly planted in the west until the 1950s.  It also may be taller (32.9m) than the world champion katsura tree (31.2 m) in Belgium. 

Sweet Like Cinnamon

tree on the side of a road
Japanese cinnamon trees in the street right-of-way

Another interesting and recently designated heritage tree is actually a duo. Heritage Tree #379 and #380 are a pair of Japanese cinnamon trees (Cinnamomum japonicum). Don’t let the name fool you, when crushed their leaves smell more like camphor than cinnamon. The pair of trees is located in the right-of-way at 3223 NE 16th Ave. These street trees are probably 15 years old or more.  This age is young for a Heritage Tree. However, Martin Nicholson, curator of Hoyt Arboretum, confirms that these trees are likely largest of their species in Portland. They are also quite rare (there is another smaller specimen at the Hoyt Arboretum).  This species grows to 40–50 feet tall. These trees are a good example of street tree that fits in medium size planting spaces.

We are grateful for Gregg Everhart for doing the research for the last two trees.

Make sure to visit some of these trees or any of the over 300 that exist within the city. See the Heritage Tree Map of Portland.