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Volunteer Park bigleaf maple in snow

Trees of Volunteer Park

    More than 175 different kinds of trees are at Volunteer Park. Since this park is one of Seattle's largest, oldest and most familiar, it is appropriate that it has an exceptional tree collection. The land was bought by Seattle in 1876, and used as a cemetery and then a nursery before being designated for park usage. In 1901 it was named Volunteer Park, after veterans of the Spanish-American War.
    The Olmsted Brothers' 1904 landscape design laid out the meandering road and basic path system, identified sites for structures, and prepared a planting plan. Only 15 trees are native in the park; the other 160+ kinds were brought in. Regarding the comparative abundance of the native species, only Douglas Fir plays a major role; the others are often few, small or relatively obscure:

Oregon ASH Fraxinus latifolia One, small

CASCARA Rhamnus Purshiana One, small

Western Red CEDAR Thuja plicata Many

Bitter CHERRY Prunus emarginata Few; inconspicuous

Black COTTONWOOD Populus trichocarpa Few; one the largest deciduous tree (all cut down in Dec. 2001)

Pacific DOGWOOD Cornus Nuttallii Few

Douglas FIR Pseudotsuga Menziesii Most common (actually few)

Grand FIR Abies grandis One, about 100' tall

Western HAZEL Corylus cornuta var. californica Really a giant shrub

(Western HEMLOCK Tsuga heterophylla One across the street east from the water tower)

MADRONA Arbutus Menziesii Few; only one prominent

Bigleaf MAPLE Acer macrophyllum Many

Vine MAPLE Acer circinatum One (few)

Western White PINE Pinus monticola Few

Scouler Pussy-WILLOW Salix Scouleriana One, south of the reservoir (another NW of reservoir)

Pacific YEW Taxus brevifolia One; small and in the shade (gone)

    As most of the trees are non-native, you might expect much more space devoted to them in this article. We don't have the paper space, this issue. But you can look forward to more information later.
    A few tidbits: at least 20 trees are the largest known of their kind in Washington. The 64 foot tall (70 feet by 2002) English hawthorn and 38 foot tall Siberian hawthorn are the largest known of their kind on earth!

(originally published in Friends of Seattle's Olmsted Parks newsletter, February 1994)

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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