Identifying Trees of the Pacific Northwest – a Dichotomous Key

Some of us aren’t lucky enough to have been girl scouts, boy scouts, or park rangers and the plethora of different trees here in Portland and throughout the Pacific Northwest can be overwhelming. If you are like most, identifying trees is a challenge and there are really only two categories of trees that exist to you.

  1. Pine, like a Christmas tree
  2. Not pine

If this is you, then try this handy tool from Oregon State University. It could be your trick to sounding and looking like a tree pro!

Dichotomous Key – Identifying Trees of the Pacific Northwest

Whether you want to learn more about the trees in our area, teach your kids about them, or just get the answer to the burning family debate of what tree has been living in the backyard for 20 years, this tool can help. It leads you through a series of simple questions, just like all those facebook quizzes. In fact, even easier than those – no need for the inner turmoil over whether you would rather read a book or got to a party on Friday night, just simple, definitive answers. It even has pictures to help! Before you get started, you’ll need to fall back on that pine/not pine knowledge, or in the tree world what is labeled as conifer vs. broadleaf. But, they’ll even walk you through that. 

Conifers have needle like or scale-like leaves and usually bear seeds inside woody cones;

Broadleaves usually have wide, flat leaves and bear their seeds inside of soft fruits.

Check out the Dichotomous Key tool.

Believe it or not, there are over 50 types of trees common to the Portland area that are included in the Dichotomous Key.

Why Should I Learn About Identifying Trees?

Identifying trees is the first step in learning how to properly care for them. Every homeowner should know what trees surround their house and invest some time getting to know the common problems and care needed for that tree. It can also be useful when planning to add a new tree into the yard. Also, you’ll be able to better understand the arborist when they share information about issues you may be having with a tree. It is a pretty good idea to consult with an arborist regularly – they can offer information on tree health, tell you if there are any potential hazards, and help you decide what tree is best to plant in a particular area. Just like the Dichotomous Key, certified arborists are easy to talk to and make tree care simple.

It just so happens that we have certified arborists at the ready, to talk to home and business owners in Portland, Lake Oswego, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Happy Valley, Milwaukee, and more. Give us a ring to set up a consultation.

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