Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest

Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest

by Mark Turner, Ellen Kuhlmann


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A must-have for naturalists and plant lovers in the Pacific Northwest

Trees and Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest is a comprehensive field guide to commonly found woody plants in the region. It features introductory chapters on the native landscape and plant entries that detail the family, scientific and common name, flowering seasons, and size. This must-have guide is for hikers, nature lovers, plant geeks, and anyone who wants to know more about the many plants of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Includes photographs and descriptions of 568 species of woody plants
  • Covers Oregon, Washington, northern California, and British Columbia
  • Introductory chapters discuss the ecoregions, habitats, and microhabitats of the Pacific Northwest
  • User-friendly organization by leaf type

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604692631
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Series: A Timber Press Field Guide
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 241,900
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Mark Turner is a professional photographer who has been photographing gardens and native plant environments in the Pacific Northwest for over 25 years. He brings a strong sense of photographic design, attention to detail, and curiosity about both native and garden plants to his work. 

Ellen Kuhlmann is a professional botanist with extensive experience with Northwest flora. She has a background in fire ecology, rare plant research, and plant community ecology. She worked for the U.S. Forest Service for many years, and for six years was the project manager for Seeds of Success, Washington Rare Plant Care and Conservation (Rare Care), a program sponsored by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Ellen lives in Bellingham, WA. 

Read an Excerpt

Anyone who has spent time outdoors in the Pacific Northwest has likely marveled at a giant old-growth Douglas-fir and cursed a thicket of devil’s club. Alpine explorers may have been surprised to stumble upon dwarf willows no taller than the toe of their boot.
Trees and shrubs are almost everywhere in the Northwest. Maybe we take them for granted. We know that we once did, lumping understory shrubs into one homogenous “boring shrub layer” while searching for wildflowers or barreling up a trail in pursuit of an alpine summit. But the reality is that there is a great deal of diversity among our trees and shrubs, thanks in large part to the wide range of growing conditions in the Northwest. A few species, like Douglas-fir, western serviceberry, chokecherry, and common snowberry, are found in almost every county or regional district. Others, like our two rockmats, are very narrow endemics found in only a few places. The Klamath-Siskiyou Range is home to more conifer species than almost any other similar-size chunk of geography in the world.
When we began the journey that resulted in this book, we knew there were a lot of trees and shrubs to cover. Some—particularly those of the North Cascades, where we live—were familiar friends to revisit on each hike. Others, like the willows, had a vague familiarity but were often passed over because they were challenging to learn. Neither of us started on this book knowing everything we would discover along the way.
It stands to reason that our largest trees grow where the most rain falls each season. It takes a lot of water to produce a coast redwood, Sitka spruce, western redcedar, or Douglas-fir. Go east of the mountains to the Columbia Plateau or the Great Basin and you’ll find a landscape dominated by sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush, and other small shrubs. In this arid part of the Northwest, what passes for old growth may be barely shoulder high.
Chaparral only touches the Northwest, with its northernmost examples just crossing the border from California into Oregon. It’s a dense, nearly impenetrable shrub environment with many oaks, manzanitas, and ceanothus that were new to both of us.
We joked at the outset of writing and photographing this book that it was our excuse to learn the willows. That notoriously challenging genus taxed our powers of observation and frustrated us with the great variability within many of the species. We even thought about skipping them because they’re hard, but that would have been a disservice to you, our readers. We hope we haven’t led you astray because even after the time we’ve spent with the willows we’re far from experts. That takes nearly a lifetime of study.
This book would not have been possible without the work of numerous botanists and plant explorers who came before us. Their journeys and study laid the foundation. Some of them are memorialized in the names of trees and shrubs, people like David Douglas, Archibald Menzies, John Scouler, and George Engelmann.
While a few readers may gripe about the size and weight of this volume, we chose to err on the side of clarity and include at least a pair of photographs for most of the 568 taxa that have a main entry. We relied on the much larger, and much heavier, regional floras to identify specimens in the field and as primary sources for our descriptions. Books like Flora of the Pacific Northwest, its big brother Vascular Plants of the Pacific Northwest, and both the 1993 and 2012 editions of the Jepson Manual are well-thumbed references, in some cases held together by duct tape.
We also relied on several online resources, sometimes pulling up websites like CalFlora on a smartphone, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, to help identify a shrub. Mark relied on herbarium records, mapped through Google maps, to guide him to known locations for many species, following a line of red dots on the screen in the palm of his hand.
Botany is undergoing many changes, with taxonomists challenging old relationships and discovering new ones, often based on DNA research rather than the morphological observations of old. We’ve used the most up-to-date names (as of January 2013) as the primary entry, using one or more older names as synonyms. For our older readers, many of whom learned their plant names from Hitchcock and Cronquist, join us in learning the newer names as well.
Come along on this journey of exploration. Stop cursing the dense shrubs in your path and learn their names and characteristics. Knowing that it’s devil’s club (Oplopanax horridus) blocking your path won’t make it any less prickly, but the knowledge just might add a bit to your enjoyment when you see its giant leaves backlit under the forest canopy and spires of red berries beacon-like across a wet slope.
May your copy of this book become dog-eared and pollen-stained, favorite pages marked by sticky tabs.

Table of Contents

Preface 7

Acknowledgments 9

How to Use This Book 11

Climate, Geography, and Plant Habitats 17

Exploring for Trees and Shrubs 43

Plant Families 48


Pine Family 58

Cypress Family 89

Yew Family 104

Simple Leaves

Alternate 106

Opposite 301

Basal or Whorled 350

Compound Leaves

Alternate 370

Opposite 410

Basal 419

No Leaves

Leafless Shrub 420

Cactus 421

About the Photographs 425

Additional Photography 426

Bibliography 428

Conversion Table for Metric Measurements 434

Index 435

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