Have you seen any large and old trees around Portland and noticed a small black plaque near the base of the tree?

Portland, Oregon, currently has one of the country’s largest registries of significant urban trees. The Portland Heritage Tree Program recognizes nominated trees by their size, age or historical significance.

Homeowners often nominate these trees, and once accepted into the heritage program, these trees will be protected and recognized by the city council. These trees cannot be cut down by developers or future homeowners and require permission to have any tree care company prune or work on the tree.

The first two trees that were recognized were an American Elm and a London Plane Tree in downtown Portland in the mid-1970s. It wasn’t until the Urban Forestry Commission took over the Heritage Tree Program in the ‘90s that the program really took off. Over the past several decades, there have been over 300 trees recognized within the program.

Every Tree is documented and its location, species and special notes are listed in the Guidebook. A wonderful piece of work by David-Paul Hedberg, From Stumptown to Treetown gives the opportunity to actively walk through downtown and see images from the mid-19th century and today. This article is a fantastic account of Portland’s history of urban development and its connection with trees.

Next time you’re looking for a good way to entertain the in-laws when they are in town, take them for a bike ride exploring as many of these heritage trees as you can!