7 Trees That Provide Food for Wildlife
Picking the right trees to plant in your yard takes vision. There are many traits or filters you may consider when thinning out your tree selections. For some homeowners, they search for easy-to-maintain trees, fast-growing trees, trees that offer shade and privacy, or maybe fruit-bearing trees. Other homeowners, however, want to look out their windows and not only experience the beauty of the trees they’ve planted but also spot some local wildlife enjoying the natural beauty and nourishment their choices have provided.
When considering trees for wildlife benefits, like food and shelter, the best advice is to “go native.” Native trees are already common within the area and acclimated to the weather conditions. Not to mention, they’re already providing ideal nourishment and necessities for local wildlife. While trained arborists, like the ones at Mr. Tree, will be able to provide more insight into what will work well in your yard and take stock of what you may already have. In this article, we’ll go over seven great native Oregon trees you can add to your landscape.
1. Bigleaf Maple
The bigleaf maple is an ideal tree for wildlife because it provides both food and shelter. Honeybees and other insects feed on the tree’s nectar. Deer, elk, beavers, and other various animals look to bigleaf maples for winter food, munching on its lichen, seedlings, and saplings. Smaller animals, including Douglas squirrels, northern flying squirrels, and finches, eat the seeds. Many birds and small rodents also look to the bigleaf maple for shelter, especially in the winter, including owls, chipmunks, and salamanders.
As for why this tree would be an excellent addition to your yard, it’s a medium-to-large tree capable of growing up to 120 feet tall. It has a nice wide, rounded shape that provides plenty of shade on hot summer days. In autumn, its lovely leaves turn yellow and brown before falling to provide a layer of shelter for various wildlife during the winter.
2. California Hazel
The California hazel, a close relative of the Oregon filbert tree, produces nuts that are favorites to squirrels, chipmunks, jays, grouse, and pheasants. Growing to heights of 50 feet tall with spreading, ascending branches, it also provides adequate cover for wildlife. Due to its hardy nature and compatibility with Oregon’s damp environment, the California hazel may need to be watered some during the first year or two after planting but requires little upkeep thereafter.
3. Golden Chinquapin
This evergreen broadleaf tree is part of the beech family. It grows up to 80 feet tall and has leaves that are dark green on top with a lovely golden color on the underside. The golden chinquapin produces a unique spiny and burr-covered fruit, which contains two triangular nuts that are enjoyed by both chipmunks and squirrels. This tree provides important cover for birds and smaller mammals, including red-breasted nuthatches, pileated woodpeckers, and spotted owls. They flourish well in moist, well-drained soils and ample sunlight.
4. Oregon White Oak
The Oregon white oak is a beneficial tree for wildlife in multiple ways. One of its most notable contributions is its use as a home by more than 200 species of native wildlife in the region. The oak tree cavities provide ideal nesting, roosting, and den sites for various birds and mammals. The Oregon white oak tree’s abundant acorns provide a necessary food source in the fall and winter when other forages are scarce. Also, when planted along water banks, the white oak can help reduce the water temperature and improve stream conditions for fish.
This auspicious tree slowly grows up to 90 feet tall and can have a narrow or broad rounded crown, depending on its environment. A truly adaptable tree, this species will thrive in cool, humid conditions or hot, dry environments.
5. Pacific Dogwood
The Pacific dogwood is particularly aesthetically appealing due to its showy white flowers in springtime. As the flowers grow into vibrant orange and red berries, it becomes a smorgasbord for birds and other small animals during the fall and winter, while deer and elk will eat the young dogwood sprouts. Also, if the flowers and colorful berries aren’t enough visual appeal, the leaves turn a brilliant red in fall.
Its beauty comes with a bit more needed upkeep, however, including nutrient-rich soil to ensure it can flower. On average, the Pacific dogwood is shade-tolerant and can grow up to 30 feet high.
6. Pacific Madrone
The Pacific madrone is an evergreen tree that grows up to 100 feet tall. It’s unique because it has thick, leathery, broad leaves that last throughout the winter. In the spring it sprouts showy clusters of pink and white flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds. In the fall it produces small reddish-orange, pea-sized berries that are popular with quail, robins, fox sparrows, and bears. Deer will eat the foliage and seedlings. The Pacific madrone is also a popular nesting tree for birds like nuthatches, woodpeckers, small owls, and some small mammals such as squirrels and porcupines.
The Pacific madrone is relatively fast-growing and thrives in humid coastal sites as well as foothills with dry summers and mild winters. It also has interesting reddish-brown bark color that peels in the fall, exposing new green flesh underneath.
This widespread, almost shrub-like tree grows to just under 30 feet tall, with many branches and often no distinct top. The willow provides plenty of shade and is food to all kinds of animals that enjoy its twigs, flowers, and leaves. Deer enjoy the stems, while rabbits, beavers, and grouse will munch on the bark. The flowers and leaves also support bees and moth caterpillars.
Along with providing sustenance for many animals, willows are a source of shelter for small mammals, including bats, and birds. Their branches are also ideal building material for beaver dens.
While all of these trees provide something of value to the local critters, there’s more to consider when choosing which of these will add value to your yard. Mr. Tree’s knowledgeable and certified arborists can help you identify what trees for wildlife will thrive in your space and in your soil while meeting all of your needs.