Vine Maple (Acer circinatum) in fall color

The Vine Maple (tree species name: Acer circinatum) is a small maple tree species native to the Northwestern United States and I have seen on many occasions in and around Portland and Seattle. The images in this posted were taken from trees in both of these cities. The leaves in full autumn color are from a tree in North Seattle and the green leaves come from a tree in the Mount Tabor park in Portland. The picture below is of the winged "samara" seeds of this maple tree species that float like little helicopters when released into the wind.

The colorful leaves of the Vine Maple in autumn range in color from red to orange to yellow and green with many striking color patterns. The picture below is from a tree that I found along the eastern bank of Lake Sammamish near Seattle.

This tree species is also a common sight along the trails in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area. One of the most visited of these is the trail leading up to Multnomah falls. Another maple tree species along that trail is the "Big Leaf Maple" (Acer macrophyllum), which are the trees along the trail that are covered in green moss and small ferns.
The Vine Maple tends to grow with multiple stems or trunks and rarely reaches more than 30ft in height.
Other Maple trees that I have posted about are the Big Leaf Maple, the Red Maple, the Boxelder Maple, Sycamore Maple and the Montpellier Maple.

Mountain Pine - Pinus mugo subsp. uncinata

Mountain Pine - Pinus mugo subsp. uncinataThe Mountain pine tree (species name: Pinus mugo subsp. uncinata or sometimes just referred to as pinus uncinata) is a tree native to eastern Spain at fairly high altitudes in the Pyranees mountains. I had come across this tree species some months back in various online forums in Spanish where there is a debate as to which is the true "Pino negro" (Black Pine in Spanish). It seems that there are at least pine tree species in Spain that are commonly called Pino Negro and this species is one of them. The other is the pine tree species Pinus nigra (European Black Pine) that I blogged about last month. They are similar trees but from my observations they are easily distinguished from their cones.
The image above shows a new forming cone and the needles which occur in pairs and are about 3 inches long and fairly stiff. In the picture below you can see the pollen cones and the new leaf growth.

The cones are green before they mature and then turn a beautiful brown color. The tips of the scales give the appearance of being pointed backwards.
I did pick up some opened cones on the ground and found that when they are fully opened they are more difficult to distiguish from other pine tree species such as the p. nigra or the p. sylvestris (Scotts pine).
I took these pictures in the small ski resort town of La Molina in the Catalan region of Spain. Another evergreen tree species in and around this town was the Nordmann fir.

Nordmann Fir - Abies nordmanniana

Nordmann Fir Cones- Abies nordmannianaThe Nordmann Fir tree (species name: Abies nordmanniana) is a popular Christmas tree species because of its dark green color, its dense foliage, its rounded needles and its drought resistance which keeps the needles from falling off too soon.
Nordmann Fir treeThis fir tree species that also goes by the names Caucasian fir or Turkish fir is an evergreen coniferous tree native to the mountains from Turkey to the Rusian Caucas region. I took these photographs in the small ski resort town of "La Molina" in the Pyrenees mountains of Catalunia, Spain. The altitude at this location is 1700 meters above sea level.

As you can see from these images the needle like leaves have a different color pattern on the top and the bottom of the leaves. On the top side they are a solid dark green while on the bottom side they have two whitish lines down each side (another way to describe it is that there are white on the bottom with a dark treen border and a green line down the middle of the flat leafe. These leaves were about 2cm long. Notice also that the leaves are rounded on the ends and even have a slight apex like notch as the ends of some of the leaves.

The cones of this fir species grow at the top of the tall trees but I was able to find a shorter tree with cones where I could get close enough to get a few good images. From what I have read these cones change color as they mature. These young cones had an almost dark blue-green color. The lighter brown colored "exserted bracts" are another distinctive feature of this tree.
The scales of these cones detach and fall off while the stem of the cone remains in the tree. Notice also that these cones grow quite vertical and straight. It is quite common to see a good number of these empty stems on the branches near the top of these trees.

The bark of the Nordmann fir is light gray in color and fairly smooth with blister like bumps.

For a fir tree that is native to Spain check out the "Spanish fir - Abies pinsapo".

Big Leaf Maple - Acer macrophyllum

The Big Leaf Maple tree (Acer macrophyllum) is one of the few Maple tree species that grow native in the Northwestern United States. The images in this post are from a stand of trees growing along the Multnomah Falls visitor trail that leads up to a bridge at the base of the main water fall (except for the leaf picture above which is from a young tree that I found on Mount Tabor Park in Portland).

The image above is of a cluster of the Big Leaf Maple´s winged seeds (Samaras) that detach in pairs and are blown by the wind like little helicopter blades. As you can see from the picture there are quite a few in each cluster.

Some of the leaves were starting to turn a bright yellow color although the only decent shot was of one of the leaves I found lying on the ground. It apprears to me that the leaves are larger and have sharper points on young trees while the leaves on more mature trees are a bit smaller and have more rounded tips. At any rate the leaves are quite large with some measuring 12 inches in diameter.

The Big Leaf Maple tree is often found growing allong streams and near waterfalls. I have seen them all along the Columbia River Gorge as well as near the waterfalls of Silver Creek Falls State Park. Their proximity to the falls and the constant water spray that is produced produces and moss and fern covering that is typical for this tree species. On some of the trees in is practically imposible to see the bark of the tree.

I did however find a few trees where the moss did not cover the whole trunk and was able to take this picture of what the bark looks like on a mature tree that was about 2 feet in diameter.

This sign (below) is located in the Multnomah falls visitor center reads...
"This deciduous tree has the largest leaves of any native in our area. The leaves are commonly six to ten inches long with five lobes. Palmate veins radiate from the petiole. Clusters of yellow-green flowers appear in spring. The winged seeds are wind dependent for dispersal and are often seen floating like "helicopters" in the fall winds."

Other Maple trees that I have posted about are the Vine Maple, the Red Maple, the Boxelder Maple, Sycamore Maple and the Montpellier Maple.

London Plane - Platanus x hispanica (syn. x acerifolia)

The London Plane tree (Platanus x hispanica (syn. x acerifolia) is a very common urban tree that is extensively planted in city parks, gardens and avenues. Although it is called the London Plane this tree is not native to England. In fact it is not native to anywhere as it is a hybrid of two trees from opposite sides of the globe. Its parent trees are the American Sycamore and the Oriental Plane. The hybrid was most likely a natural result of the two parent trees being planted close to each other in Spain (thus x hispanica). It has been very widely planted in England since the late 1600´s.

The tree in the image above is of a tall London Plane that I found in the royal gardens of Aranjuez (Spain). I estimate that this tree is about 7 feet (2 meters) wide at the base and over 120 feet (35 meters) tall. It is a fine example of the fact that this tree can reach very large proportions. The tree below has a more rounded shape that is more typical of this tree when it does not have to compete for light. It is located on the grounds of the Bonneville dam east of Portland Oregon on the Columbia River.

There is a great deal of variation in the appearance of different London Plane cultivars. Some of these have a closer similarity to the American Sycamore while others are more like the Oriental Plane and variants can be found that cover the full spectrum between the two parent trees. The picture below is of the Londan Plane tree fruit which looks like a small puff ball about one inch in size.
These fruits grow in groups of 1-4 as can be seen in the image below and they stay on the tree into the winter until they disintegrate and drop their seeds.

The bark of the London Plane has a cameoflage like apearance and is constantly flaking which reveals the lighter color bark beneath. This is said to help it survive in city environments where the polution is greater.

I´ve often seen older London Planes with large lumby boles on their trunks. In the Laurelhust park of Portland Oregen there are a group of these trees that are extremely lumpy and deformed looking (below).

The leaf of the London Plane is the logo of the New York City department of Parks and Recreation.
One interesting bit of trivia about this tree is that one of its older specimens is the most valuable tree in Britain. A plane in Mayfair has been valued at £750,000.

"The survival secret is that its shiny leaves are easily washed clean by the rain and it sheds bark regularly in large patches, preventing the trees lenticels or breathing pores in the trunk becoming suffocated under a layer of sooty, sulphurous grime."

Oregon White Oak - Quercus garryana

On a recent trip to the Northwest I came across the Oregon White Oak tree (Quercus garryana - this species name is similar to its other common name "Garry Oak" Quercus=Oak and garryana=garry). The trees in these images are located on the west side of Portland just off of highway 26 along NW 167 Place near the NW Cornell Road exit. I also saw quite a few of them driving further west on the Sunset highway heading towards the coast from Portland until they petered out by the coastal range.

The acorns of the Oregon White Oak are quite round in shape and almost one inch in diameter.

I also found that on the mature trees there was a lot of dark green moss growing on the top side of the branches. This coupled with the fact that bunches of leaves grow along the length of the branches give the Quercus garryana a distinct look that sets it apart from other oak trees in the area.

The trunk of the tree in the image below must have been close to four feet in diameter. The tree in the top image of this post may have been even bigger at the base.

The leaves of these oak trees were about 4-5 inches long and 2-3 inches wide. Their texture was a bit rough like a fine grain sandpaper. The lobes were quite rounded

Across the road from these trees there was a line of Northern Red Oaks that were already turning color but these Oregon White Oaks were not showing any sign of changing color yet.

The habitat of the Quercus garryana stretches from north to south all the way from B.C. down to Southern California. In Washington State this is the only oak tree species that grows native.