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Trees 101

Trees 101

Choosing a tree

Trees at the nursery
  • Plant a tree…any tree, as long as it is appropriate for the given region and climate. Native species will thrive in your soil and best support wildlife.
  • Plant the right tree in the right location. In urban areas consider power lines, potential impacts of roots under sidewalks, and plant something that won’t need to be removed in just a few years.
  • Choose low-maintenance trees to maximize carbon absorption: low-maintenance, disease-resistant species will do better without greenhouse-gas-producing fertilizers and equipment.
  • Faster-growing trees store the most carbon during their first decades, often a tree’s most productive period. Faster-growing trees in our area include big leaf maple, black cottonwood, cascara, Oregon ash, Pacific willow, red alder, Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, black hawthorn, and western crabapple.
  • Long-lived trees can keep carbon stored for generations without releasing it in decomposition. Western hemlock, western red cedar, Douglas fir, and Sikta spruce can all live 1,200 years or more. Those same four species are also our largest trees – they can grow to between 200 to 260 feet in height.

Where to buy

Some native species grow faster than others

Tree* Species Conifer or Hardwood Growth-Rate** Height Oldest
Western white pine Conifer F 40m 400
Shore pine Conifer F 20m 250
Grand fir Conifer M 80m 300
Western hemlock Conifer M 60m 1200
Western redcedar Conifer M 60m 1400
Douglas fir Conifer M - F 70m 1300
Sitka spruce Conifer M - F 70m 1300
Big leaf maple Hardwood F 35m 200
Black cottonwood Hardwood F 50m 300
Cascara Hardwood F 12m 60
Oregon ash Hardwood F 25m 250
Pacific willow Hardwood F 18m 25
Red alder Hardwood F 25m 100
Pacific dogwood Hardwood M 20m 150
bitter cherry Hardwood M 15m 40
Black (Douglas) hawthorn Hardwood M - F 15m
Western (Pacific) crabapple Hardwood M - F 12m
Pacific madrone Hardwood S 30m 250
Oregon white oak (Garry oak) Hardwood S - M 25m 500

*Tree = a single-stem (bole) woody plant that grows 22 feet or higher

**F,M,S = Fast, Medium, Slow

Tips for planting a tree