Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.
– Khalil Gibran
With the ever-evolving forest environmental issue, which is affecting wildlife, ecosystems, weather patterns, and even the climate, the United States’ forests are hanging on a thread. According to the 2005 Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Global Forest Resources Assessment, from 2000 to 2005, the US ranked seventh in countries with the highest annual deforestation rates. And a vast majority of its old-growth trees were actually removed before the 20th century.
If you’re living in the Pacific Northwest region, you should learn more about native trees to plant in your backyard. Here’s a list of the five best Pacific Northwest trees that we recommend you plant in your backyard.
1. Douglas Fir
Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) is the name of a whole family of trees containing six species—two from North America and four from East Asia. These trees are commonly found in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States and are native to the area.
They are large trees whose needles are yellow-green, which is sure to enhance the beauty of any backyard. They can grow as tall as 300 feet and 13 feet wide! But don’t worry, the specimens you’ll find to plant in your yard are of a much smaller variety.
The Douglas fir is the state tree of Oregon and is best known for being the favorite tree during Christmas. It also ranks number one in the manufacture of wood and plywood-veneer.
2. Oregon White Oak
The Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana), also recognized as the Garry oak, is a majestic Pacific Northwest tree found in the Willamette Valley, including regions in the Molalla and Rock Creek watersheds. It is called the Oregon white oak because it’s the most common oak species in the Northwest Pacific. It’s also the only native oak species in northern Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.
This tree can be tall and slender—reaching more than 60 feet tall—with a rounded crown, or low and shrub-like, stretching out its limbs. The bark is brownish gray, and the leaves are dark green and shiny on one side and pale green on the other. Its acorns are oval in shape and a favorite for a variety of native creatures.
3. Pacific Madrone
The Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziesii) is a spectacular, distinctive Pacific Northwest tree that gives the landscape beauty throughout the year.
It only grows up to 50 to 100 feet and is known for its flexible and slow-growing spurts. In other regions, it’s also dubbed a bayberry or strawberry tree.
Native Americans used to consume the reddish-orange berries, which are rather sour. Plus, the berries produced good cider and were frequently dried and pummeled into a meal. Tea lovers can brew tea from its leaves, as it’s usually used for medicinal purposes. The tree also provided a variety of birds and other wildlife with support and protection.
This tree attracts bees owing to its fragrant white flowers. Furthermore, its pleasant-looking peeling bark will leave your garden with a beautiful texture, even though the bark and leaves may produce a litter that may involve some raking.
Consider planting in a natural or wild garden if you want to grow madrone plants, as the tree may not fit well into a fully manicured yard.
4. Oregon Crabapple
The Oregon crabapple (Malus fusca) is the only indigenous crabapple tree in the Pacific Northwest. It’s easily distinguished from its eastern counterparts by the oblong form of the fruit and is a nice big shrub or small tree to attract birds to your garden.
It will provide partial shade for a medium-sized yard, which makes it a great option. Its fragrant, white to pink flowers attract birds, including finches and cedar waxwings, and its leaves turn yellow-orange or red in autumn. The Oregon crabapple is defined as a deciduous tree growing to a height of up to 43 feet. The leaves are as long as 4 inches.
It’s possible to eat the oblong fruit, but it has a sour flavor. The fruit can also be used to extract pectin, which is useful in helping to make jams and jellies. The bark can be safely used as an herbal medicine. The tree is also nurtured as an ornamental plant in parks and gardens.
The Pacific crabapple seeds were valued as a food source by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and were collected along the shoreline. Its bark and/or fruit infusions have been used as a traditional medicinal plant, including for stomach illnesses and skin and eye diseases, and as an analgesic.
5. Red Alder
Red alder (Alnus rubra) is a deciduous Pacific Northwest tree with dark-green leaves with saw-like corners and smooth, light-grey bark, growing naturally on cool, moist hills. It can grow as tall as 40 to 50 feet.
It’s sometimes called the Oregon alder. “Rubra” actually means red—which refers to the color of its bark when the wood is cut. While many regard the red alder as a “weed” tree because it often invades landscapes, this tree is the first option for ecological restoration. Nitrogen-fixing bacteria form lumps on the roots of red alder, and because of this connection, its addition to damaged sites can rapidly enhance soil fertility.
Red Alder is the Pacific Northwest’s most significant hardwood. It’s used in the manufacture of furniture, cabinetry, paper, and paper products, and the hardwood usually burns hot and comparatively long, making it a great option for firewood.
Red alder’s bark has also been appreciated for its medicinal properties. It has antibiotic characteristics and includes salicin, which is used to create aspirin.
It’s also one of the most low-maintenance trees you can find in the Pacific Northwest region.
If you’re looking to plant any one of these trees and need some guidance, you have us for help. With over 30 years of residential and commercial tree care service experience, at Mr. Tree, we believe in quality service, customer satisfaction, and professionalism.
We understand the value of trees, and certified arborists are on staff to make sure that yours will thrive for many years to come. Mr. Tree can evaluate any prospective hazards, mitigate and manage any tree diseases. We can also prune and trim so that your plants look better every year than the year before. So contact us today for any of your tree care needs.