From Stumptown to Tree Town

A large tree in the yard of a house.
The award-winning book "From Stumptown to Treetown" takes readers on a journey through the histor-tree of Downtown Portland. Learn from author and local historian David-Paul B. Hedberg about Portland's legacy of tree management.
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From Stumptown to Treetown: A Field Guide for Interpreting Portland’s History though its Heritage Trees.

Portland earned its title of Stumptown following the cutting down of acres of forest to make way for the roads and houses we call home 150+ years later. Read about the history of Portland's trees, where they've been, and where they're going.

From Stumptown to Tree Town, by David-Paul B. Hedberg, is an interpretive walking tour of 10 downtown Heritage Trees connecting historic photos to living trees in the city and invites you to explore some of Portland’s oldest living features. 

The trees of this city have been intentionally managed by humans long before taking the name Portland. There may not have been an Urban Forestry Division to manage the trees, but the streets, parks, and everything in between has been planted or cared for by humans - but what does that mean? 

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Get Involved

  • A large southern catalpa tree in a yard.
    HT 298 Southern Catalpa photo by Steve Terrill Photography
    Find a Heritage Tree  near you or one of your favorite tree species.
  • Learn more about Heritage Trees and how you can submit a nomination.
  • Download the Heritage Tree Guidebook. This 76-page guide has maps, species descriptions, best viewing times, and more. 
  • Apply to join the Heritage Tree Committee. 
  • Become a Neighborhood Trees Steward - caring for trees to help more become mature and healthy.

Watch Online!

Recording of online webinar from 3/24/21.

Watch three films from the Canopy Stories film project:

Canopy Stories

The filmmakers of the Canopy Story film project were the 2019 Bill Naito Community Trees Group Award winners!

Rosa's Tree

“Portland’s first Heritage Tree, an American elm, represents every tree in the city.  Only a few mighty oaks and firs that survived Stumptown’s pioneer days are older. This elm, planted in the 1870s by Rosa F. Burrell, stands as one of the city’s oldest features. The film explores one historian’s quest to find and document this and other historic trees.”

Heroes and Villains

“Why do we humanize trees as heroes and villains? Focused on two species that dominate the city, the Douglas fir (a regional hero) and the Tree of Heaven (a horticultural villain), the film follows two PSU professors who have launched a crowd-sourced storytelling map. New technology and old-fashioned methods intersect in the quest to climb Portland’s tallest tree.”

Just Old Trees

In the nineteenth century, when no one believed the Willamette Valley could sustain English walnuts, Dosch experimented with grafting and popularized the Franquette and Mayette varieties of walnut here in Oregon. His success initiated one of the state’s most profitable horticultural industries at the time.

Three trees growing in front of Henry E. Dosch’s estate “Villa Eichenhof” and historic trees.
Henry E. Dosch’s estate “Villa Eichenhof” and historic trees. Image courtesy of Henry Dosch Papers, Multnomah County Library.

What is a Heritage Tree?

A flowering cherry tree blooms in a brick sidewalk.
HT 217 Yoshino Cherry photo by Steve Terrill Photography

Heritage Trees are trees that have been formally recognized by City Council for their unique size, age, historical or horticultural significance.

Once accepted by Council, Heritage Trees are designated with a small plaque and listed in the Heritage Tree database.

Learn More

Close-up image of the cone of a Douglas-fir tree.

Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry's mission is to manage and ensure Portland's urban forest infrastructure for current and future generations. Portland’s urban forest consists of 236,000 street trees, 1.2 million park trees, and innumerable private property trees.

Urban Forestry is involved in managing or regulating all of these trees to differing degrees. Urban Forestry staff issue permits for planting, pruning, and removal of all public and some private trees and are on call 24/7 to respond to tree emergencies.

For more information on Urban Forestry -