The Coastal Conifers Forests of the Pacific Northwest
The purpose of this article is to call attention to the uniqueness of Oregon’s and the Pacific Northwest’s temperate coastal rainforests that many of us take for granted because we live here.
As you will read below, our forests are some of the last like them on the planet; they are the largest of their kind still left. Such forests existed elsewhere on earth, but have long since destroyed them, and little or nothing remains of these temperate coastal rainforests, except in the Pacific Northwest.
Please enjoy and share the information presented below to help raise the awareness of the forest gem we have in our own backyard.
Oregon Conifer Tree Facts
Oregon has 26 million acres of commercial forests. They would stretch as a green belt sixteen miles wide across the U.S. from the Pacific Ocean eastward to the Atlantic (as of 1989, fromTrees to Know in Oregon, by Charles Ross, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR; 1989)
Oregon’s forests contain enough lumber to rebuild every dwelling in the U.S. (ibid.)
Prior to 1990 when the spotted owl ruling shut down most of Oregon’s state and federal forests to commercial timber operations, Oregon led all 50 states in production of timber products. The forest industry provided half of all Oregon’s industrial jobs. Timber was king leading agriculture, transportation, recreation and all other industries (ibid.).
Douglas fir makes up sixty percent of Oregon’s annual wood crop (ibid.).
The Douglas fir tree, Oregon’s state tree, is the worlds second largest tree in size after California’s giant redwoods and sequoias (ibid.).
Of the total timber in the U.S., half is in the three Pacific Coast states combined, and half of this (or one quarter of the timber in the U.S.) is Douglas fir. Douglas fir is not only the leading commercial tree of the Pacific Coast, but of the world (Elliot, p. 524).
While the Pacific Coast has a small number of species as compared with the species native to the eastern U.S., it is the home of the most dense and important coniferous forests of the world. The hardwoods in the Pacific Coast account for only about one percent of the total available timber in the Northwest, and is chiefly comprised of red alder, Oregon ash, bigleaf maple and Oregon white oak (Elliot, p. 525).
Many species of trees are native to the Northwest which no longer grow here, since they lie buried under the lava flows of eastern Oregon and Washington. The fossilized remains of extinct trees that have been found include magnolias, palms, ginkgoes and sequoias (Elliot, p. 526).
More than 600 species of conifers exist on planet earth. Half live on the Pacific Rim and 50 percent of these live in the U.S. (Kauffmann, pp. 10, 14).
The hot-spot for conifer diversity in the western U.S. is in the Klamath Basin Mountains of Oregon and California where there are 38 species of conifers in 13 genera. Conifers in California alone represent the oldest, tallest and largest living things on the planet (Kauffmann, p. 16).
Distribution of Trees on Planet Earth
Ninety percent of all tree species on earth live in tropical forests (Tudge, p. 27). The further you travel north or south from the tropics at the equator, the fewer the diversity of the species of trees you’ll find. The endless forests of Canada, for example, are dominated by only nine native species of trees including a few conifers and the quaking aspen. In the whole U.S. there are only about 620 native species of trees. India, which is much smaller than the U.S. has around 4,500 species of trees, and in one region of Peru where studies have been conducted within a 15 hectare area 825 tree species have been identified. Tropical America (both North and South) have tens of thousands of species of trees (Tudge, p. 279).
Conifers Distribution Outside and Inside North America
There are no native conifer (a word meaning “cone bearing”) trees (e.g. pines, firs, spruces, junipers, cypresses or cedars) in all the vast forests of Central Africa or Amazonia in South America. This is because most conifers (except firs) thrive in conditions that flowering plants find especially difficult such as soil low in fertility and soil that is poorly drained. They do, however, grow in some highland tropical rainforests on the hillsides of Southeast Asia where growing conditions are less easy. They especially thrive in cooler climates including extreme Continue reading →
YOU can help to make the world a better, a more friendly, loving and beautiful place by tending your spot on this earth that has been given to you—your garden. Here is a to do list to help you to do just that.
Then the LORD God (Yehovah Elohim) took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)
This guide is tailored for the western valleys of Oregon and Washington
Tree and Shrub Care
Fruit tree pruning. Prune your fruit trees for fruit production. You can also prune grapes, can and trailing berries once the threat of major frost is past.
Plant fruit trees.
Mulch. Apply two to three inches of mulch around all trees and ornamental shrubs. This helps to fertilize the plants and feed the soil, and also protects them against weed growth and loss of water when the warmerweather returns.
Pine tree pruning. Prune coast/shore pines (Pinus contorta) and Scotch/Scots pines (Pinus sylvestris). These two pines are especially susceptible to the sequoia pitch moth whose larvae burrow into the tree trunks during the growing season (April through September) causing the trees to exude large amounts of unsightly pitch globules. While this seldom kills the tree, the bleeding of sap is not good for the overall health and vigor of the tree. It is advisable, therefore, not to prune these pine trees during the growing season, since the pruning cuts attract the moth, which then lays eggs on the tree, which hatch into tree-burrowing larvae. Pruning should be done on your pines from November to March.
Plant or transplant trees and shrubs. Winter is good time to plant or transplant ornamental trees and shrubs. Cooler weather means less transplant shock to the plants, and over the winter and spring, they will have time to begin to acclimate to their new environment before the stress of the next summer season occurs.
Pruning of ornamental shrubs. Do major pruning (called heading back) of rhododendrons (or rhodies) and other similar ornamental shrubs back to latent buds in trunks and stalks. Do this before spring growth begins in a couple of months.
Pruning of large trees. Winter is a great time to do aesthetic and structural pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs, since the structure or architecture of the plant is clearly visible making aesthetic pruning easier than when plants are foliated. Structural defects, which can cause tree failure, are more easily spotted as well. Also remove of dead wood, and pruning to reduce hazards. If you’re not sure what to do, or how to do it, call Good News Tree Service, Inc. for a consultation, pruning lessons or to have them do the pruning for you.
Reparative pruning. Repair winter damaged to trees and shrubs.
Roses. The best time to prune roses is after the threat of major frost is past.
Tree and shrub removal and stump grinding can be done all year long.
Trees. Have an ISA Certified Arborist with an ISA Tree Risk Assessment Qualification (like Good News Tree Service, Inc.) inspect your large trees for the potential of failure due to weak root systems and defects in trunks and branches. This is best done when the leaves are off the trees.
Plant Health Care
Good News Tree Service, Inc. provides full plant health care services as listed below.
Apple scab on ornamental crabapple and fruiting apple trees. The first visible symptoms occur on leaves in spring as pale, yellowish, water-soaked spots the size of a pinhead. These enlarge, becoming darker and smoky in appearance, later taking on an olive shade and ultimately a brownish black color. Spots may be any shape but are frequently circular. Young infections often show a radiating spread of fungal tissue through the leaf, and such areas later appear as irregular, brown-colored infections. Diseased leaves can be curled and distorted and often drop early. This fungal disease can also move into the fruit to produce a scabby effect, hence the name “apple scab.” Several fungicidal sprays are required to control this disease just prior to flowering and after flowering.
Arborvitae Berckmann’s Blight (Platycladus orientalis): Spray in the fall (late Sept. and early Oct., and again in early Nov. Spray again in early spring (Feb to Mar) if disease is severe.
Cherry Leaf Spot: Spray cherry trees for leaf spot Apply first spray at petal fall and two weeks later.
Cherry Tree Brown Rot Blossom Blight (Monilinia fructicola):Make 3 foliar applications starting at bud break and at 14 day intervals.
Coryneum Blight (Shot Hole Fungus): This leaf blight affects ornamental and flowering cherry, plum and prune trees. Apply fungicide in late fall, and in the spring prior to bud break and after the flower petals fall.
Deep Root Fertilization: Deep root fertilize your trees and shrubs as soil temperatures warm up.
Dormant Spraying of Fruit Trees: Apply dormant sprays against insects and fungi.
Lawns: Fertilize yellowing lawns.
Leaf Blights: Spray trees and shrubs for fungal leaf diseases (e.g. powdery mildew, leaf blights, dogwood anthracnose, needle blights, etc.).
Magnolia Bacterial Blight: Apply one spray in fall and twice in spring near budbreak.
Monitor trees and shrubs for insect pests. When piercing and sucking plant pests (e.g. aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, mites, etc.) hatch varies each year depending on when the warmer weather begins. Usually, hatching of plant pests begins from early to late April. When consistent warm weather begins to occur, start monitoring plants for insect nymphs and adults. If necessary, plan a course of action to treat your trees and shrubs against these pests.
Piercing/Sucking Insects: Begin applying systemic insecticides against piercing sucking insects (aphids, lacebugs, scales, weevils, etc.) via soil injections (one treatment gives season-long control).
Photinia leaf spot. Spray a fungicide early in February of four applications at two week intervals afterwards. Early spray is key to controlling this fungus.
Powdery Mildew: Apply a fungicides as soon as symptoms appear. Best efficacy if used before symptoms appear. Use fungicide at seven to fourteen day intervals, or more often if conditions warrant it. If a plant is known to have had powdery mildew previously,apply as buds start to open.
Tent Caterpillar: Apply systemic pesticide for season-long control.
Verticillium Wilt Fungal Disease: Apply a soil in the fall and spring.
Elsewhere in the Garden
Put slug bait around winter flowers. Though the weather may be cold, slugs are still active.
Rake and dispose of ornamental tree leaves, or better yet, compost them and then spread the decomposed leaves back onto your shrub beds as a mulch next year.
Mulch all of your shrub beds. Put a two to three inches of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) around perennials and other plants that might be sensitive to subfreezing weather. Also, spread a fresh layer of mulch (e.g. bark dust, garden compost or wood chips) on all the bare dirt areas in your yard to prevent soil compaction from rains, to prevent weed growth and to enrich and help to condition your heavy clay soils.
Cut English ivy off of the base of trees. (This can be done any time of the year.)
Feed the birds. Dutifully maintain your bird feeders. As winter comes, birds have a harder time finding food. Bring life and excitement to your backyard by turning it into a bird sanctuary. The birds will thank you for your generosity by providing you with hours of entertainment, and by eating insect pests that harm your ornamental trees and shrubs. Remember to feed the humming birds, who have few flowers to feed on during the winter. Birds in the yard are not only fun to watch, but they perform the vital task of eating harmful insects.