By Nick Truman ::
Heritage Tree # 80-88
Pterocarya fraxinifolia – Caucasian wingnut
On the sides and overhanging the intersection of 15th Ave. and Knott St. in northeast Portland lie two parallel rows of large Caucasian Wingnut trees. These stand out even within the well-established urban canopy of the Irvington neighborhood, with its notable prevalence of protected trees (ten percent of Portland’s Heritage Trees). Recent studies of the community’s trees have however highlighted a number of concerns which threaten the old and well-established foliage of the neighborhood.
Irvington was developed in the late 1800s to early 1900s as an exclusively residential neighborhood, easily accessed by trolleys, and home to industrialists and even a mayor. The lack of businesses and industry encouraged the cultivation of numerous street trees in early Irvington to offset the starkness of the land cleared for speculative construction. Unfortunately, these trees did not fit well into the subsequent developments of the community, such as streets, sidewalks, and utilities. Many of these trees, such as the Big Leaf Maple in particular, are a hazard due to their size and susceptibility to diseases.
The Caucasian Wingnut tree, however, which accounts for only 0.6% of the present urban canopy, grows to a moderate size while still providing ample shade and street coverage. Wingnuts are additionally relatively pest and disease resistant, unlike a large portion of the vulnerable neighborhoods’ trees. While the trees at the intersection of 15th and Knott may not be terribly old or of particular interest for their historical value, like other Heritage Trees, they are still magnificent for their size and serve as an example of a well-placed and beneficial street tree.
[featured image | Julie A. Fukuda]