Eucalyptus in Oregon: Australia in the Pacific Northwest.


Eucalyptus trials in Oregon Country: Stan & Lee
Some early work with Australian trees in the Pacific Northwest

Gustavo Iglesias Trabado Contact GIT Forestry Consulting
GIT Forestry Consulting - Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal - www.git-forestry.com

Stan Gessler, forester from Washington, among Australian Eucalyptus / Eucalyptus in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia / Eucalyptus in the Pacific Northwest / GIT Forestry Consulting, Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal, Galicia, Spain, España
The cultivation of Eucalyptus in the Pacific Northwest has had to do with trialling of species for relatively a long time now, sometimes as ornamentals and other times as part of forestry hardwood trials. It is however a relatively recent trend, especially if compared to the very old tradition for the cultivation of Eucalyptus in California.

One of the steps in this process of increasing eucalypt growing had to do with the works of an Oregonian forester, keen tree grower and adventurous fan of the Australian trees.

Lee O. Hunt (1912?-2002), who would later be President of the Douglas County Small Woodland Association, started methodic experimentation at nursery and field trials with 14 species of Eucalyptus back in 1971, focusing in those with good prospects for timber production in short rotations and having enough potential tolerance to cold as to be grown in Southwestern Oregon and survive winters there.

Some known Eucalyptus trial locations in Oregon State

Planting at different trial locations ranging from 150 to 800 m altitude took place along the 1970's, and response to frost damage and growth rates where assessed, making it an interesting study of acclimation for the tested seed provenances of Eucalyptus. Some of the known places where these studies and those later ones made by other foresters took place are:

  • North Williamette Experiment Station (Oregon State University, Clackamas County), where temperatures have reached absolute minima of -17ºC in the 1971-2000 period. Earlier Eucalyptus trials assessed by Dr. Robert L. Ticknor, who was also President of the American Rhododendron Society.
  • Near Bridge (Douglas County, OR, Highway 42, in the western slope of the Coast Range): 4 species planted in 1975 by Lee O. Hunt.
  • Schofield Creek (near Reedsford, Douglas County, OR, 87 km to the NW of Roseburg): 6 species planted in 1978 by Lee O. Hunt.
  • Willis Creek Tree Farm (near Winston, Douglas County, OR): 7 species planted in 1979, 8 additional species in 1981, 4 extra species in 1982 by Lee O. Hunt. Suffered temperatures as low as -16ºC during the first winters, albeit in milder winters they did not reach absolute minima below -10ºC.
  • Near Warren (to the Northwest of Vancouver, OR) : 3 species in 1984 by Oregon State University.
  • Near Siletz (Lincoln County, OR): 3 species in 1985 by OSU.
  • Near Corvallis: 2 species in 1987 by OSU.

Some of the eucalypt species trialled for survival %, tolerance to cold and growth rates in Oregon within this period (1971-1987) were:

Eucalyptus camphora - E. cinerea - E. coccifera - E. dalrympleana - E. delegatensis - E. glaucescens - E. globulus - E. gunnii ssp. gunnii - E. gunnii ssp. archeri - E. gunnii ssp. divaricata - E. irbyi (E. viminalis x dalrympleana) - E. nitens - E. nova-anglica - E. pauciflora - E. stelluata - E. subcrenulata - E. viminalis - E. urnigera

The eucalypts of Stan & Lee

Part of the seed used in these horticultural and forestry trials was sourced by Dr. Stanley Gessel (1917-1995), Professor of Forest Soils and later Dean of the College of Forest Resources at the University of Washington (Seattle, WA), who had visited some of the Australian eucalypt forests and brought back to the USA fresh Eucalyptus seedlots from CSIRO. From these seeds he would also be later responsible of plantings within Seattle and a major influence for future eucalypt growers in the shores of the Puget Sound.

Lee O. Hunt's experimental Eucalyptus nursery at Winston provided also several thousand seedlings per year to local private woodland owners interested in fast growing species with an aim to firewood production during the late 1970's and the 1980's, being a vector for the early introduction of many previously unheard of Eucalyptus taxa in Oregon State and the Pacific Northwest.

From those seeds, these fruits

After the trial efforts previously mentioned ceased in the early 1990's, many new species of Eucalyptus trees had well spread as exotic ornamental or landscape trees in many areas of Oregon, Washington and the British Columbia. Specialist nurseries started propagating these and other newer species which were later submitted to cold hardiness tests in the gardens of adventurous exotic plant growers.

As an example of this horticultural trend our friend Ian Barclay, currently involved in The Desert Northwest project, has tested over 115 eucalypt species in Olympia and Poulsbo (WA) from the the 1990's onwards. If you have not yet read about cold hardy eucalyptus in Ian's The Hardy Eucalyptus Page, you are certainly missing a great information resource on these plants.

Eucalyptus in Oregon: where are Lee's trees?

Willis Creek Eucalyptus Tree Farm, Winston, Oregon / Eucalyptus in Oregon / Lee O. Hunt / Eucalyptus in the Pacific Northwest / GIT Forestry Consulting, Consultoría y Servicios de Ingeniería Agroforestal, Lugo, Galicia, SpainPotential locations of Lee O. Hunt's Willis Creek Tree Farm Eucalyptus trials
(click to enlarge)

Help us find Stan & Lee's trees! If you live near Roseburg or have easy access to Douglas County in Southwestern Oregon, follow the footprints of Lee Hunt, and hunt the surviving Eucalyptus of these old trials. Some 20 to 30 year old at the moment if still standing, they should give hints on adult tree size achieved by these tree species in the area and could be interesting seed sources representative of cold hardy Oregonian Eucalyptus local races.

If you decide to take such a journey, remember to watch these links first:

Eucalyptus species identification: Contact GIT Forestry Consulting / Identificación de especies de eucalipto: Contacte a GIT Forestry Consulting

Interesting Literature

Jacobs, Maxwell R. (1970) The genus Eucalyptus in world forestry. Seattle, WA: College of Forest Resources, University of Washington; October 1970.

Ticknor, Robert L. (1974) Landscape tree performance. Circular of Information 622. Corvallis, OR: Agricultural Experiment Station, Oregon State University.

Hunt, Lee O. (1978) Speaking for the Private Woodland Owner. Society of American Foresters Journal of Forestry, Volume 76, 12:1 , pp. 781-781

Hunt, Lee O. (1983) Adaptability of some Eucalyptus species in southwest Oregon. In: Standiford, Richard B & Ledig, F Thomas, technical coordinators. Proceedings of a work-shop on
Eucalyptus in California, June 14-16, 1983, Sacramento, California. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW 69. Berkeley, CA: Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture; 9-13

Hunt, Lee O. & Logan, Robert S. (1986) Propagation of Eucalyptus Nursery Seedlings. Tree Planters' Notes 37(2):3-7

Hibbs, David E. (1986) Stand management: Growing eucalypts in Western Oregon. Extension circular no. 1198 - Oregon State University, Extension Service (USA)

Giordano, Peter A ; Hibbs, David E; Fletcher, R; Landgren, Chal; Oester, Paul & Rogers, Bill (1993) Hardwood Species Trials in Oregon. Tree Planters' Notes 44(1):38-42

Turner, John ; Gessel, Stanley P.; & Lambert, Marcia J. (1999) Sustainable Management of Native and Exotic Plantations in Australia. In: Planted Forests: Contributions to the Quest for Sustainable Societies, Chapter 16. New Forests 7(1-3) & 8(1).

Barclay, Ian (2002) Hardy Eucalypts in the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Northwest Palm & Exotic Plant Society. Hardy Palm International, Issue #50.

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© 2007 Gustavo Iglesias Trabado. Please contact us if you want to use all or part of this text and photography elsewhere. We like to share, but we do not like rudeness.

3 Comments by our readers :::

Cascadians said...

Posted by Cascadians on 10/10/2007, 7:29 am, in reply to "Eucalyptus in Oregon: After the footprints of Stan & Lee"

That adds an element of adventure to any hike! Good idea to always carry a camera. Already on the lookout for witches brooms for the dwarf cultivators on Gardenweb's Conifers Forum. Will keep eyes peeled for eucs too.

Will have to get a hiker GPS device when we go back to playing in the great outdoors (after our 300+ baby trees are more established). Imagine the ones that were planted in known spots have already been searched for.

Wondering if birds can spread the seeds so a euc could be bird-planted somewhere in the forest?

How do eucs rate with PacNW natives on self-sowing? Is there any tree more prolifically self-planting than the black cottonwood? Talk about volunteers ... they're popping up all over this area.

And which hardy euc is best at self-planting and surviving?

Gus - Eucalyptologics said...

Posted by Gus on 10/11/2007, 3:45 am, in reply to "Eucalyptus Treasure Hunt"

Self-sowing can happen, and be successful if the combination of factors "prolific flowering eucalypt in a given climate + heavy load of seed present in the tree + bare soil around + favourable moisture + favourable temperature" is present.

Classical example, colonization after fire. Many eucalypt species evolved to adapt to these events in their natural habitat.

Another example, a harvested coupe where bare soil is exposed after timber removal. Otherwise the % of germinants is low. And even within these, there is always mortality. To say it somehow "just one in a million seeds ends up replacing the parent trees".

Birds are more adapted to spread seed contained within edible (for birds) fruit. Eucalypt capsules are woody and taste quite bitter (try one!). Reproductive strategies of eucalypts via seed dispersal do not have much to do with birds even in Australia. Eucalypt favourite biological seed dispersal vectors are... human ;-)

George in Bandon, OR said...

Posted by georgeinbandon,oregon on 10/10/2007, 4:33 pm, in reply to "Eucalyptus Treasure Hunt"

Experience seems to indicate that eucs are probably not good self-seeders under our conditions.

Seeds are very tiny and not well adapted to bird dispersal and they require warm moist conditions to germinate with no competing vegetation to shade them out.

Our cool moist winters aren't good for initial sprouting and our warm but dry summers are not good for continued growth of any seeds that do appear.

The only place that I have seen what appears to be some kind of self seeding is some bluegums (E. globulus) near Brookings on the extreme south coast with the mildest climate in the entire PNW.

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