Spring has arrived, when the dogwoods bloom. The showy white and pink flowers are actually bracts—specialized leaves—not flowers at all. The true flowers of the dogwoods most common to Portland are small and greenish yellow, surrounded by the colorful bracts. The familiar pink and white dogwoods are mostly varieties of Cornus florida, a native to the eastern U.S. Some cultivars have variegated leaves, adding to their interest in summer once their spring color has faded.
Location: Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The dawn redwood is a “living fossil”, thought to be long extinct until it was rediscovered in the 1940s in the wilderness of China. Hoyt Arboretum’s famous dawn redwood is at the end of Bray Lane. It was the first dawn redwood to bear cones in the Western Hemisphere in over 8 million years! The modern dawn redwood is identical to its fossil ancestors from 65 million years ago. This unique conifer loses its needles each fall; you’ll see its new, bright green needles reappearing in the spring.
Location: By Trimet Bus stop at Vietnam Veterans Memorial. You can also find one registered to Portland Heritage Trees on SW Bray Lane.
This native of Oregon has a distinctive shedding brown bark on its branches. It can grow 8 to 12 feet in height. Its green leaves are lobed, similar to a small maple leaf. In Spring you’ll see rounded clusters of white flowers with yellow and pink centers. The flower clusters and reddish fruit make this shrub attractive through spring.
Location: Maple Trail, near the stair case connecting Maple Trail and Wildwood Trail/SW Knights Blvd.
This moderately fast-growing tree, also known as the Handkerchief Tree or Ghost Tree, can reach 60 to 80 feet tall, but can take a decade to reach flowering size. A native of China, it was named after the French missionary and botanist Armand David (Davidia involucrata), who obtained specimens of the tree for the French government in 1896. In full bloom, the elegant, white flower-like bracts dangle and dance among the branches like doves. As the season progresses, the leaves turn yellow, orange, and red.
Location: Maple Trail, western part of the trail