Central Campus Tree Tour
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1. Chinese coffin tree (Taiwania cryptomerioides)
Location: NE corner of the Environmental Studies Building

Look, but don't touch! This tree, which is extremely rare in North America, mounts an admirably effective defense in the form of a dense covering of stout, sharp needles. Even its twigs are armored. Woe betide the cat foolish enough to take refuge in this tree! As its Latin name implies, this plant is native to the island of Taiwan, where it flourishes in the mountains at moderate elevations and forms dense stands of exceedingly tall, straight-trunked trees. In its native habitat Taiwania can attain enormous dimensions; over 250 ft. tall and 10 ft. in diameter. In cultivation only since 1918, it has yet to demonstrate its limits of growth outside Taiwan. These trees were planted in the late 1970s by Dr. Hubertus Kohn of the WWU Biology Department, as part of his research. Dr. Kohn is long since retired, but the trees continue to proliferate, in part because the WWU gardening staff has yet to devise a safe way to prune them! It has been suggested that one or more of these rare and interesting trees be transplanted to a more prominent location on campus. A suit of armor will be required. Wood from Taiwania cryptomerioides is light but strong, and consequently is highly prized in China for making furniture, boats and, of course, coffins. If not cut for timber, the Chinese coffin tree can attain ages in excess of 2000 yrs.

1. Chinese coffin tree
2. Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)
Location: East of Biology

Another of the familiar forest giants of the Pacific slope, the western hemlock is readily distinguished by the pendulous branchlet tips and broad flat rounded flexible needles. It is the largest member of its genus, growing 165–230 ft tall, and an important source of lumber and pulp in Oregon and Washington. It also provides high quality cellulose, from which is made rayon and cellophane. It grows rapidly and tolerates shade very well. The natural range of western hemlock extends from Alaska to northern California. It requires a moist, cool climate, hence is rarely cultivated successfully in other parts of North America. There are many western hemlocks in and around Haskell Plaza. This one stands just outside the Biology Building main door.

2. Western hemlock
3. Chemistry knoll ( )
Location: Between Chemistry and Engineering Technology Buildings

This small elevated thicket is north of Haskell Plaza, a representation of the San Jaun Islands. Many native species are represented here, including Douglas fir, western red cedar, madrona, western paper birch, hemlock, pacific dogwood and Oregon white oak. The understory contains rhododendrons and vine maple, as well as other small bushy plants, some of which scratch. The overall appearance suggests a bit of primeval Northwest forest preserved within the campus. A somewhat scraggily but still impressive Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) dominates the view of Chemistry Knoll from the south. Sitka spruce is the world's largest spruce, reaching heights of over 300 ft. It is also much prized for lumber. The northern lobe of Chemistry Knoll is anchored by a large oak, probably Quercus robur, the common English oak. A visit to its vicinity will show that it is vigorously reproducing; small oaks are growing everywhere.

3. Chemistry knoll
4. Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)
Location: Near NE corner of Chemistry

Mature trees have cinnamon-red bark with black crevices while younger trees have black to reddish-brown bark. The tree can often be identified by its characteristic long needles that grow in tufts of two to four. Ponderosa pine is native to the mountains of the west, from British Columbia to Mexico, extending as far east as South Dakota. It does best in relatively dry surroundings, hence finds it difficult to compete for growing room in the native forests of the wet side of the Cascades. (Note how a neighboring Douglas fir - shown on the right of the upper photo - is out-competing our specimen tree). Given enough time (~ 100 years) a successful ponderosa pine may develop a delightful reddish (or yellowish) trunk; the dry forests near Winthrop, Washington, contain many beautiful examples. It is useful as a landscape tree only under circumstances that can accommodate its growth potential - to 200 ft. tall and 6 ft. in diameter. Pioneer tales, possibly lubricated by moonshine whiskey, speak of trees nearly 300 ft. tall. This tree is an icon of the Old West. When John Wayne rode out of the woods in search of cattle, bad guys, or a place to camp, you can be sure that it was the sap of Pinus ponderosa he smelled. (Wayne's horses were carefully scrubbed and deodorized before each take). More buffalo has been cooked over campfires made from ponderosa pine than over fires from all other types of firewood combined (Go ahead, prove me wrong). When a beaver trapper built his cabin to "winter over", it was Pinus ponderosa he sought. If you do not like ponderosa pine you are either an Easterner, or un-American, or possibly both. Ponderosa pine is an important source of lumber in North America, exceeded in value only by Douglas fir. It was introduced into Europe in the early 1800s and is widely planted there, although it has not proved as useful economically as anticipated. Pine nuts from Pinus ponderosa are an important food source for squirrels and other tree-dwelling varmints. Squirrels aid in its propagation by creating emergency stashes of nuts (seeds), then forgetting where they are.

4. Ponderosa pine
5. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Location: South side of SMATE

A large aromatic tree with a straight trunk and 5-7 lobed finely saw-toothed maple-like leaves. In the fall it produces large brown balls with distinctive stud-like protrusions. Its leaves alternate along the twig. The peculiar name of this tree stems from the fact that, when wounded, it exudes an aromatic balsam that (apparently - I didn't experiment) can be chewed. A chemical from its gum is used in perfumes and for other purposes. Sweetgum also is an important source of wood; if you purchase a piece of furniture made from "satin walnut," you have actually purchased a piece of sweetgum. Sweetgums are native to southeastern United States and Mexico, where they obtain quite respectable size: to 200 ft. in height and seven ft. in diameter. More commonly they top out in the 80 to 150 ft. range, still quite enough to shade the southern approaches to SMATE. Sweetgums are relatives of the witch-hazel, which furnishes fluids of great importance in folk medicine. Native Americans chewed the bark of young sweetgums, possibly for medicinal reasons.

5. Sweetgum
6. Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata)
Location: Lining the west side of the playing field south of SMATE

Native to Europe and western Asia this tree has round heart-shaped leaves. A line of these young trees faces the west side of the playing field beneath Chemistry and Biology. Small now (2006), they will reach heights of 80 ft. or more. Slightly more mature specimens are located near the southern entrance to Carver gym. A closely related species can be observed on the eastern side of the Bird Sanctuary. Linden flowers are a traditional herbal remedy (linden flower tea), considered to be of value as an anti-inflammatory in a range of respiratory problems: colds, fever, flu, sore throat, bronchitis, cough and others. A valuable monofloral honey is produced by bees using the trees. The young leaves can be eaten as a salad vegetable In England and elsewhere in northern Europe it has been "coppiced" for many centuries, to produce wood for carving, and bark material for making ropes. (To "coppice" is to harvest wood periodically by cutting young shoots arising from a living stump.) Each time a coppiced stump is harvested it expands slightly in diameter. One source states that there are coppiced stumps in existence that are nearly 50 ft. in diameter, and perhaps 2000 years old. One way to create a perfectly impenetrable fence is to plant linden trees close together, then coppice them for a few centuries.

6. Littleleaf linden
7. Red oak (Quercus rubra)
Location: North of SMATE

A grove of a half-dozen of these vigorous trees decorates the grassy area between SMATE and Carver gym, immediately west of our signature Empress tree. Given enough time (50 years should do) they may convert that much-loved pleasant area of speckled shade into a fair imitation of the forest primeval; champion red oaks top out at well over 100 ft. tall, with comparable lateral dimensions to their crowns. Absent chain saws, of course. Red oak flourishes naturally in eastern North America, where it forms pure stands that have been cut over for timber for centuries. It has been planted extensively throughout North America and Europe, wherever a space large enough to accommodate it needs a tree. Red oak puts on a fine autumn display. It is said to be relatively impervious to urban pollution. For centuries its wood has been cut for uses ranging from fine cabinetry and firewood to railroad ties. Native Americans apparently ate its acorns, after an elaborate leeching process that rid them of their native bitterness. No such nicety appears to have occurred to our growing cadre of gray and black squirrels, who gobble them voraciously.

7. Red oak
8. Empress tree (Paulownia tormentosa)
Location: Grass area north of SMATE

Large heart-shaped leaves with up to five lobes arranged in pairs along the stem. It erupts in spring with spectacular blue-purple, trumpet-shaped flowers. Although native to China it was named in honor of the Grand Duchess Anna Pavlovna of Russia and Empress of the Netherlands. Old Paulownias can attain very considerable size. One of the largest in Washington State is found adjacent to the Amtrak Terminal in Fairhaven; it was planted in the early 1900s and has been much trimmed, sawn and brutalized since, but still is worth a special visit in early spring. Paulownias are prized for their wood in Japan, where they are used to make clogs. In China, an old custom is to plant an Empress Tree when a baby girl is born. The fast-growing tree matures when she does. When she is eligible for marriage the tree is cut down and carved into wooden articles for her dowry. The tree you are admiring was planted partly as an exercise in contrition. Another, larger Paulownia once graced the plaza between Haggard Hall and the older portion of Wilson Library. When the library complex was remodeled, this earlier, much-beloved tree, together with an outdoor sculpture of some importance, fell victim to "progress." The ensuing, inevitable outcry, led with great vigor by Dr. Richard Francis of the English Department, resulted in the planting of this tree. Beautiful as it is, it is several decades away from the splendor of its predecessor. A somewhat smaller member of the species is growing near the southwest corner of Haggard Hall.

8. Empress tree
9. Fernleaf (Full Moon) Maple (Acer japonicum 'Acontifolium')
Location: Walkway near SMATE

A small (15-30 feet tall) tree with fern-like medium green leaves that are deeply divided into 9-11 toothed lobes. Beautiful crimson fall color. This tree was planted in honor of Marc Daugherty, longtime WWU gardener, who died of cancer in 2004. Marc was an admirer of Japanese maples. As told by gardener lead Randy Godfrey, Marc is responsible for the many English daisies that pop up in lawns all over campus. It seems that Marc planted a "wildflower lawn" on the south side of Western Gallery. When it was mowed, seeds of Bellis perennis did what evolution dictated - they adhered to the bottom of the mower, to be dispersed all over campus, wherever there was grass to mow. Thus we can thank Marc for providing random infusions of encouragement in the form of these ubiquitous, cheery little blooms. Acer japonicum originated, naturally enough, in Japan. It was introduced into cultivation in the 1860s. It seems to be notably slow growing. All sources agree that its fall colors are truly exceptional.

9. Fernleaf (Full Moon) Maple
10. European smoke tree (Cotinus Coggygria)
Location: Lining walkway south of the Steam Plant

More of a large shrub than a tree, the leaves are long round ovals with a waxy sheen. Its most attractive feature is the appearance of its spent flowers, which in mid-summer envelop the plant in a wispy, grayish pinkish yellow "cloud" that, to an active imagination, resembles smoke. Large examples in the wild top 40 ft. in height, so ours ought to be able to attain the sacred 13 ft. eventually. To visitors from the desert southwest the name "smoke tree" conjures up a gaunt, misshapen grayish-green apparition desperately clinging to life in a dry wash. That is Dalia spinosa, which never could survive the rigors of a moist, cool, well-cultivated university arboretum. Our smoke tree is totally unrelated. It originated in Europe, where it has been common in gardens for centuries. It was introduced into North America in the late 18th century, and has been widely disseminated. Its fall colors also can be worthwhile.

But back to the question: tree or shrub? Several authorities state that, unless artfully and persistently pruned, Cotinus Coggygria will remain low and bushy.

10. European smoke tree
11. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)
Location: Planters in front of Western Gallery

Why, one might ask, would WWU go to the trouble and expense of planting an imported eastern dogwood when the local variety grows wild everywhere you look? There are two answers. First, the flowering dogwood makes a better year-round display; spring white flowers, followed by leaves of a pleasingly delicate yellow-green shade, turning flaming red or reddish-purple in autumn. Flowering dogwood also produces interesting red fruit, vaguely resembling cherries (in shape and color, not taste). However, the second answer is probably more important. Our native wild dogwood (Pacific dogwood; Cornus nuttallii) resents domestication; plant it, prune it, water it, fertilize it - and nevertheless it sulks, and sometimes dies. Enjoy them in the wild; the dogwoods you see in gardens are nearly all imports. Flowering dogwood is native to eastern North America, where it reaches a height of 40 ft. or more. According to Jacobson, early settlers called it "boxwood", for its hard wood, apparently used to construct boxes. It was introduced into cultivation in England as early as the late 18th century. There are many cultivars - Jacobson describes over 70, many of which have superior qualities for cultivation. Ours may be one such, but which one remains to be determined

11. Flowering dogwood
12. Mountain hemlock (Tsuga Mertensiana)
Location: Near east door to Carver gym

Characterized by its slightly pendulous branchlet tips, short delicate needles, and drooping branches the Mountain hemlock is the quintessential timberline tree. Alpine hikers will find it hunched and gnarled from the effects of wind and snow. It is native to the west coast of North America. Mature trees may attain heights of more than 60 ft., and trees taller than 100 ft. are known. Mountain hemlock is little planted outside its native range. However, where it does prosper it can be a useful garden tree, because of its dense foliage, graceful form, and the fact that it is exceedingly slow growing. It also is a popular bonsai tree. WWU has several small mountain hemlocks scattered about; these two (on either side of the western larch are the most accessible. Study them, and then see if you can find a few others.

12. Mountain hemlock
13. European larch (Larix decidua)
Location: Near SE corner of Carver Gym

A large deciduous tree with long needles (1.5") crowded in clusters on spur twigs. The needles turn a handsome golden yellow before falling in autumn. These are the trees that catch ones eye near the summit of Washington Pass, on a sunny day in early fall. This tree was planted in 1996, as a 6 ft. sapling, and ten years later was clearly thriving. It has the potential to reach a height of over 150 ft. Western larch is highly valued as a source of timber; its long, straight trunk makes it particularly sought-after by builders of log houses. Thick bark around its base makes this species unusually adapted to periodic forest fires; along with lodgepole pine it is the first to regenerate. This tree also represents fruit of a guilty conscience. When the new plaza between Wilson Library and Haggard Hall was created, an older Larix had to be transplanted. Despite the best efforts of the ground crew (and, one suspects, considerable expense), the tree died. To take its place, this tree was planted near the eastern entrance to Carver Gymnasium. At the same time a much-loved sculpture ("Rain Forest") also was uprooted; it was successfully transplanted to a place of honor near the new Wade King Student Recreation Center, where it can be seen bubbling and gurgling today.

13. European larch
14. Spanish fir (Abies pinsapo)
Location: west of the Fine Arts Building

This tree was planted immediately west of the Fine Arts Building, late in 2009. It is an interesting, attractive little tree, and we are lucky to have it. However, in a way, the tree is lucky to be here as well. In the wild its range now is restricted to a few small areas in the mountains of southern Spain. (A subspecies A. pinsapo ssp marocana grows in the Rif Mountains of northern Morocco.) Survival of the species thus may depend on the arboretums, parks and backyards of the world. According to Jacobson, alternative names for the Spanish fir include "bottlebrush fir" and "hedgehog fir". (Jacobson has an unrivaled talent for ferreting out colorful names for trees.) These alternatives refer to the fact that the short, stiff needles of A. pinsapo extrude from the twig in all directions, much like one would expect in a spruce – or a bottlebrush. However, the needles of the Spanish fir are blunt and carry the characteristic white longitudinal lines of fir species, thus eliminating any ambiguity. Spanish fir specimens can reach 65 ft. or more in height. They are slow growing, and in their protracted youth maintain a pleasant conical shape. In old age they are said to become somewhat ragged and disorganized – as with so many of us. According to Robert Van Pelt the largest Spanish fir in Washington State is located on the grounds of Carl Cozier School, right here in Bellingham – in 1995 it was 69 ft. tall and had a trunk circumference of over 11 ft.

14. Spanish fir
15. Magnolia (Magnolia species)
Location: Immediately east of Miller Hall

Known for their showy flowers and hardiness magnolias are one of the most widely planted and highly differentiated trees on earth. With over 210 species of magnolia worldwide would be a fool's errand for an amateur to attempt to identify the species of magnolia illustrated here. Magnolia is an ancient genus of tree that predate bees. The flowers have evolved to encourage pollination by beetles. To avoid damage from pollinating beetles, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are extremely tough. Many magnolias are mere shrubs, but others attain indisputable treelike proportions. The chief defining characteristic of magnolias is large, silky, generally cream-colored flowers that appear in late spring or early summer. Magnolias can be either deciduous or evergreen. Some deciduous varieties produce flowers before their leaves unfurl, whereas others (North American natives for the most part) flower after they leaf out. After the flowers are spent a curious knobby cucumber-like stalk may remain throughout the summer and into the fall. To small boys engaged in war games, these are unmistakably grenades, to be plucked from the tree and hurled at enemies.

15. Magnolia
16. Bosnian pine (Pinus leucoderma, or P. Heldreichii, or even P. Heldreichii. var. Leucodermis)
Location: NW of the Fine Arts Building

With long needles in bundles of two, this small tree (in 2012) tree can grow to over 100 feet with a 6-foot trunk diameter. WWU graduates returning for their 50th class reunions will be able to enjoy the shade from this little guy. As its name implies, the Bosnian pine is native to the Balkans, and can live for more than 1000 years. One speciman in the mountains of Bulgaria is estimated to be over 1300 years old. The largest in Washington is 52 ft. tall, located in the U.W. Arboretum. The species was introduced to North America in the early 1900s and is now fairly widespread. It's long needles held close to the twig give the shoots the appearance of a bottle-brush. It is also noted for its very decorative purple cones.

16. Bosnian pine
17. Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Location: NE corner of Carver Gym

This tree (NOT the one shown) was planted in 2007 and is mostly obscured by other trees. It has large heart-shaped four lobed leaves. It was planted when repair of a sewer line resulted in the clearing of a few tens of square meters at the NE corner of Carver Gym. In addition to this tree, several specimens of paper-bark maple and Eastern redbud were installed, as well as an assortment of shrubs. In a few years this may be one of the most attractive corners of campus. (The photographs accompanying this essay are of a champion tree - not on campus - that is many decades old. In 2007, ours was too pitifully small to display. Wait awhile.) Our tree is not the original but rather a cultivar, "Aureomarginata", which is perhaps as well - the mother species has the potential to grow to a height of 150 ft. or more (the record is 200 ft.), whereas ours will top out at about 80 ft. Besides stature, the main difference lies in leaf coloration: the species has a pea-green leaf (see lower photo), whereas - as its name implies - Aureomarginata leaves are golden on the outside, fading to green at the center. Tree authorities wax ecstatic over the tulip tree. For instance, More and White call it a "stately tree" and praise its bark and autumn color display. Grant and Grant describe it using adjectives such as "superior," "dazzling," and "magnificent." Curiously, the tulip-like flowers which give the tree its name come in for scant praise. Partly this may be due to the fact that the flowers are carried high on the tree where they are difficult to observe. Ours will not begin to bloom for many years. The tulip tree (also called the yellow poplar, tulip poplar and whitewood) is a native of eastern North America, from Nova Scotia to Florida, extending as far west as Michigan. It was introduced to England as early as the mid-17th century. Tulip trees furnish wood for furniture and cabinetry, and food for a variety of birds and small mammals. According to one source, L. tulipifera is our tallest native hardwood.

17. Tulip tree
18. Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)
Location: North of Carver Gym (many elsewhere on campus)

Striking white bark that flakes in horizontal strips. Also known as the Canoe birch, this tree should be familiar to anyone reared on Fenimore Cooper novels, or whoever indulged his or her curiosity about the early fur trade. Eastern paper birches have beautiful exfoliating white bark, from which seemingly flimsy material were built canoes proof against long river journeys, portages, and the occasional nasty rapid. Our campus paper birches peel in small pieces; constructing a substantial canoe from such scraps would be a challenge. The problem seems to be that Betula papyrifera is a very widespread tree geographically, and has a tendency toward "plastic genes" (meaning, I presume, that it readily changes its characteristics to accommodate differing environments.) The natural range of the paper birch extends from the Appalachians, across Canada into Alaska, and southward to Washington, Montana, and other isolated Cordilleran outliers. Throughout its range its characteristics vary systematically; so much so, that botanists recognized a half-dozen regional sub-species. Ours may be Betula papyrifera var. commutata, the western paper birch proper. However, there is also a variety called subcordata, the so-called "northwestern paper birch". One characteristic of commutata, according to several authorities, is that it has brownish bark when young. However, who knows? As always, let's leave taxonomic squabbles to the botanists. Paper birch trees grow quickly and expire early - they rarely attain an age of much more than 100 years. Some reach a height of 100 ft., but the further north you go, the shorter they are. They provide excellent firewood, wood pulp - and are used for making toothpicks and lollypop sticks! And, of course, canoes.

18. Paper birch
19. Incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)
Location: Between Carver Gym and College Hall

A large cedar with deeply fissured grayish bark. The name Calocedrus is Greek for "beautiful cedar." This solitary member of its species is well camouflaged by the plethora of western red cedars on campus, which it closely resembles. Incense cedar is native to the mountains of Oregon and California. The largest known incense-cedar, which grows in the Marble Mountain Wilderness in Northern California, is 39 feet in circumference and 165 feet high. It a long-lived tree that can reach an age of 500 years. Native Americans used incense-cedar leaves stomach trouble, as a vapor infusion for colds, and as a food spice. Other uses included bark fiber for basketry or twine and for friction fire-making and fuel. Branches were used for filters or brooms. Although mainly planted for its landscape properties, incense cedar also has commercial uses. Its wood is relatively decay-resistant, hence is prized for exterior siding. All those pencils you chewed while in grammar school were probably derived from the wood of this fine tree. Finally, aromatic oil is extracted from the wood of C. decurrens (justifying its common name). The oil seems to be highly prized for aromatherapy and, one hopes, other purposes as well.

19. Incense cedar
20. Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Location: West wall of Carver gym, near north end

A line of hazel "trees" lines the wall along the northwest corner of Carver gym. This is another woody plant striving to meet the official definition of "tree." Hazels commonly top out at about 20-25 ft. They are multi-stemmed, exceedingly bush-like, and in most respects rather unremarkable - as are our examples shown here. However, Corylus avellana has one attribute that lends it considerable distinction; it produces a prized, edible nut, the hazelnut, or filbert. (Apparently hazelnuts produced in orchards are called filberts, for some no-doubt valid commercial reason). This species of hazel is native to much of Europe, western Asia, and even parts of North Africa. One source also suggests that it is native to North America, whereas several others describe species of North American hazels that are, however, mere shrubs by anyone's definition. A Turkish hazel (Corylus colurna) also exists and is in cultivation, but it is far more tree-like than our little straggling specimens. As you can detect, the true species name for these plants is in some doubt, but we will stick with avellana. Let the botanists sort it out. Hazel is used in Europe for fencing. It is either planted in dense linear rows, or copiced (see the littleleaf linden) to produce slender shoots that can be woven. Moreover, in the land of Harry Potter, copiced hazel shoots are useful for magic wands.

20. Common Hazel
21. Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum)
Location: A few tens of meters west of the NW corner of Carver Gym

This small tree (in 2013) looks like a shrub and is easy to miss. It has long pointed leaves that in the fall turn a brilliant scarlet. Our tree is currently a vigorous sapling perhaps 3 ft. tall, and thus a long way from attaining its eventual splendor of 30-65 feet tall. Jacobson describes it as a tree "of supreme elegance and ornamental value". Summer flowers are white, born on spikes that tend to protrude from the leaf canopy. It is renowned for nectar and for the honey which is produced from it. Juice from its blooms is used to make sourwood jelly. The leaves are also a laxative. The shoots were used by the Cherokee and the Catawba to make arrow shafts. Experts seem to differ on the ideal growing conditions. All agree that it likes acid soil and detests air pollution. However, there is a difference of opinion about whether it prefers sun or shade, wet or dry. Our little tree may get enough sunshine, but it is unlikely to spend much time completely dry. We shall see. Botanically it is a near relative of the madrona and rhododendrons.

21. Sourwood
22. Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos)
Location: Between College Hall and Haggard Hall

Two dozen of these graceful trees line the parking lot north of College Hall. In late spring and early summer its delicate compound leaves open to provide a light green canopy of speckled shade, in season enlivened by small, inconspicuous yellow flowers. In the fall it turns a nice golden yellow. In all seasons it displays an interestingly textured bark, consisting of large plates that seem to invite you to tear them off. (Don't try). But note that if you decide to inspect a "type" honey locust up close, be very careful to watch out for thorns - they are everywhere, they are long (up to one inch), they are tough and sharp, and they come in compound groups of three (hence the species name). In the fall the honey locust provides a wealth of curious, dangling brown seed-pods, resembling exuberant pole beans in shape. These can be messy, apparently. The author's introduction to G. triacanthos came in Eaton, CO, where two huge specimens flank the main door to the City Hall. When asked about them, a clerk replied "You mean those damned honey locusts? I spend all fall cleaning up after them, and every time I go out there they scratch me!" With so nasty a reputation, it is no wonder that many thornless hybrids have been developed; for instance, Jacobson discusses no less than 38. Ours are surely some form of thornless (or nearly thornless) hybrid, because on close examination they seem to have only a few stubby, harmless blunt protrusions where spines ought to be found. Our trees are young and only about 20 ft. tall. Trees over 100 in height are known in their native range (central and eastern United States). The tallest tree in Washington State, at 90 ft, is located in Redmond.

22. Honey locust
23. Umbrella tree (Magnolia tripetala)
Location: West wall of College Hall

Bellingham gets its share of rain. How appropriate, then, that our gardening staff has provided us with a source of emergency umbrellas, in the form of these two umbrella trees, sporting leaves up to 20 in long and half that in width. Too bad most of us are too short to reach them. The umbrella tree (or umbrella magnolia) is native to the southern Appalachians. Apparently they are little planted elsewhere, possibly because of their scruffy form: Jacobson quotes a source as describing Magnolia tripetala as "a specimen that always seems to be in doubt whether to be a shrub or a tree". Like nearly all magnolias it provides a showy whitish blossom in late spring/early summer. The form of the blossom is somewhat loose and disorganized, with six to nine petals. The name tripetala apparently refers to prominent external protective sepals, which do come in groups of three. For a magnolia with an even larger leaf, see the description for the bigleaf magnolia.

23. Umbrella tree
24. Bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Location: South of Music Building

This and the red alder (Alnus rubra) dominate the deciduous forests of the western slope of the Cascade Mountains. The enormous leaf of this vigorous, fast-growing tree will be familiar to all local hikers. Acer macrophyllum is the largest of the maple family; a specimen over 150 ft. in height was growing in Mt. Baker National Forest in 1989, and another with a trunk diameter of over 10 ft. can be found near the town of Hamilton, on the Skagit River. Compared to these monsters, ours are piddling. However, wait a few centuries! The forestry industry considers bigleaf maple a weed; it is a fast-growing "stump-sprouter" that can out-compete more economically desirable trees, such as Douglas fir. However, it furnishes wood that is useful for many specialty purposes, including the making of musical instruments. It also sometimes will produce burls that are highly valued in the making of some kinds of furniture. Bigleaf maples are at home from British Columbia into northern California, especially along the wet side of the mountains.

24. Bigleaf maple
25. Himalayan birch (Betula utilis 'Jacquemontii')
Location: Library plaza

Sixteen examples of this snow-white variety of the common Himalayan birch were planted (1997) on both sides of the courtyard between Haggard Hall and Wilson Library. Others are scattered throughout campus. Himalayan birch was introduced to England in 1849 by the famous botanist Sir Joseph Hooker, a friend and stalwart ally of Charles Darwin. The variety 'Jacquemontii' honors Victor Jacquemont, the first botanist to explore Kashmir, who died there in 1832 at the age of 31. Given enough time, these trees will begin to shade the upper windows of the library; a tree 75 ft. high is reported from Seattle. The peeling bark of the Jacquemontii birch suggests the North American paper (or canoe) birch, which however belongs to another species (Betula papyrifera). Jacquemonti birch was introduced to North America in 1924, but since has taken the Pacific Northwest by storm. One authority predicts it is the garden birch of the future. This is partly because it is slightly more resistant to birch-destroying diseases. The ability of its elegant, peeling, brilliantly white bark to enliven a drab PNW winter landscape also is a plus.

25. Himalayan birch
26. Plane tree (Platanus x acerifolia)
Location: Red Square

These large deciduous trees have gray-green smooth and peeling bark and broad 5-10 inch wide maple-line leaves. They are widely distributed on campus, with two particularly fine examples growing in front of the Humanities Building near the Noguchi "Sky-viewing sculpture." The Plane tree (often called the London plane tree) is a cross between the American sycamore and Platanus orientalis, the Asiatic plane tree, native to SE Europe and Asia Minor east to the Himalayas. Plane trees were known in England as early as the mid-1600s; examples growing now in Berkeley Square, London date from 1789. The plane tree was widely planted throughout England and industrial North America during the early stages of the Industrial Revolution. Apparently it endures uncommonly well amidst smoke, soot and grime. As evidence, notice the apparently healthy tree rising from the enclosed courtyard of Miller Hall, proving that the species also can withstand gravel, concrete, coffee dregs, education lectures and (until recently) countless cigarette butts. (Woops! Only a few weeks after these words were written the gallant tree, having withstood everything environmental thrown at it, succumbed to a chain saw. Part of its trunk is destined to become something decorative, at Fairhaven College. Better than nothing, I guess). Plane trees rim Red Square and smaller ones line the walkway west of Arntzen Hall.

26. Plane tree
27. Goldenraintree (Koelreuteria paniculata)
Location: South edge of Ridgeway dorm complex

Two of these little trees are hidden far away at the top of campus, near Ridgeway Kappa. In the proper season they are well worth the trudge. In spring a colorful unfolding of large, pinnate or (occasionally) bipinnate leaves is followed by emergence of foot-long upright panicles covered with yellow flowers. No local tree provides a more striking display. Later in the season the flowers give way to conspicuous, decorative seed pods, first green in color but ripening gradually to brown, pinkish-brown, or even red. With a little imagination they suggest miniature Japanese lanterns, giving rise to an alternative name - Lantern tree. Even in winter the tree is worth a visit for its crevassed bark revealing interior stripes and splotches of reddish-purple hue. This tree is not to be confused with the Goldenchain tree (Laburnum anagyroides) which it resembles only in color of flowers and similarity of common name. Laburnums bloom earlier, carry their yellow flowers on pendant racemes, and produce seedpods considered unsightly by some, and seriously poisonous by all who know. Goldenchain grows wild all around the WWU campus. Koelreuteria paniculata is native to East Asia. It was introduced to North America in the late 1790s and has prospered. Indeed, in some parts of the country it is considered invasive; that is, it tends to propagate spontaneously and crowd out native plants. However, this does not appear to be the case in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps most of its seedpods end up as costume jewelry! While you are in the vicinity, look around and admire a small stand of quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) - and thus save yourself a second trip.

27. Goldenraintree
28. Port Orford cedar (Chamaeocyparis Lawsoniana)
Location: East wall of Highland Lounge

This tall, slender stalwart of many gardens and arboretums throughout Europe and North America has a surprisingly narrow native range - the coastal fog belt between central Oregon and northern California. It is named for Port Orford, Oregon, near Cape Blanco. Formerly it was an important economic resource both here and in Japan, but its value has been diminished considerably by a root disease (Phytophthora) that originated in Oregon in the 1950s and has wrecked havoc with both wild and cultivated trees ever since. (For instance, a magnificent specimen growing in Bellingham's Bayview Cemetery succumbed to the disease only last year - 2006). There are many cultivars of Chamaecyparis Lawsoniana - Jacobson describes over 50. Golden varieties seem to be particularly popular. Ours appear to be a grayish-blue form, perhaps the popular 'Triompf von Boskoop' (a wild guess), which originated in Holland at the end of the 19th century. In its natural habitat the Port Orford cedar can attain enormous size - over 200 ft. in height and seven or more ft. in diameter. As a matter of no particular importance, this tree acquired its species name, not in honor of a famous botanist or explorer, but from a Scottish nursery (Peter Lawson & Sons, Edinburgh) that disseminated the tree vigorously, and one hopes profitably, during and after the 1850s. Most of the cultivars on the market today originated in Europe.

28. Port Orford cedar