Fl0ra 0f Lake Simtustus Res0rt

The flora or plant life of central Oregon is extraordinarily diverse and spans a variety of different habitats. For instance, you'll find alpine flora along the crest of the Cascade Mountains and desert flora as you travel to the eastern portions of central Oregon.

Western Juniper

Western Juniper

The camel of trees

As you emerge from mountainous forests into eastern Oregon, you`ll find extensive, open juniper woodlands. Due to overgrazing, these woodlands have become even more prominent, which poses a problem. The juniper tree can survive in arid climates because of its ability to draw and store water. Where there is moisture, the juniper draws as much water as it can and grows up to 50 feet tall. Its monopolization of water in regions where water is typically scarce is cause for concern.

Range: Three junipers are native to the Pacific Northwest, but the one you`ll likely encounter is the western juniper, which is prominent throughout the drier parts of the state, particularly central Oregon.

Character: This smaller evergreen has thin, shreddy bark and tiny scale-like needles. The juniper berry is a cone with soft scales that rarely open. Despite their short stature, western junipers commonly live for hundreds of years.

Understory: The understory of the western juniper is characteristic of the arid climate in which it thrives. This, in addition to its propensity to grow in thick, dense groves, means very little plant life can survive in its understory.

Climate: The western juniper can survive in conditions and climates very few tree species can tolerate. It can survive perceived drought and is the dominant, if the only, tree species in areas where the rainfall is less than 12 inches a year. Still, it can easily survive on much less.

Management: The wood of the juniper is used mainly for fuel and fence posts, so it is generally not grown for commercial use, although its berries are a spice used in a wide variety of culinary dishes and best known for the primary flavoring in gin (and responsible for gin`s name, which is a shortening of the Dutch word for juniper, genever). Forest management is generally linked to limiting its growth in a water-starved area where overgrazing creates conditions where only the juniper can grow and thrive.

Ponderosa Pine

Ponderosa Pine

Both beauty and versatility

Ponderosa pines are the second most common tree in Oregon and are dominant in the eastern part of the state. They are easily identifiable by long needles that grow in bundles of three. The wood from ponderosa pine is quite versatile and can be used for construction and millwork. Trees can live for over 700 years. The beauty and colors of old ponderosa pine attract moviemakers and nature lovers alike.

Range: Ponderosa pine occurs in pure stands or mixed with lodgepole pine, grand fir, Douglas fir, Western larch, Western white pine, incense cedar, white fir, and quaking aspen. Ponderosa pine forests are widely distributed in eastern Oregon, ranging in elevation from 2,500 to 6,000 feet. Ponderosa pine found in the Willamette Valley is genetically different from east Oregon ponderosa. Agriculture and development have significantly reduced the historical range of Willamette Valley Ponderosa Pine. Still, it can also grow on the full range of Valley soils below 1,000 feet elevation. Ponderosa Pine grows well with Douglas Fir but also where Douglas fir can`t: extremely wet soil like that of the Willamette Valley.

Character: Ponderosa pine can reach up to 200 feet in height. The trunks of saplings tend to be black, while mature trees are almost always pumpkin orange with visually pleasing splits in the bark.

Understory: The understory consists of grasses and shrubs such as green leaf manzanita, buckbrush, bitterbrush and snowberry.

Climate: Ponderosa pine forests are the second driest forests in Oregon; they thrive in climates with short, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. The range of these forests is closely tied to soil moisture.

Management: Fire has shaped these forests. Historically, frequent human-caused and natural ground fires maintained open, park-like conditions. Over the past 100 years, fire suppression has left many stands overcrowded with more shade-tolerant trees. These forests are now very susceptible to insects and fire. They can be returned to more natural and healthy conditions with thinning and fire. Removing the entire overstory can lead to extreme soil temperatures and poor regeneration, making it difficult for ponderosa pine to regenerate naturally. As a result, uneven-aged forestry is often practiced, typically with group selection as the harvest technique.

Western White Pine

Western White Pine

Strong and straight

The western white pine is prized as a commercial species because of its long, straight trunk that runs free of branches for up to two-thirds of its length. Its wood is easily worked and is ideally suited for window and door frames, paneling, shelving, and other structural applications.

Range: Its range extends south from British Columbia and from western Montana to northeastern Oregon, with a preference for deep, porous soils and gentle slopes.

Character: The western white pine grows rapidly, attaining heights of 175 feet and trunk diameters from 5 to 8 feet. It is easily identified by its stalked cones, which are slender, curved, and grow from 5 to 15 inches long. Needles are 2 to 4 inches long and grow in clusters of five. White lines are on two sides of each needle. The bark of mature trees is brownish-gray and is broken into small rectangular blocks.

Understory: On warmer sites, you`ll find an understory of huckleberry oak, red huckleberry, pygmy Oregon grape, and box-lighted silk tassel. Manzanita and western serviceberry occur frequently on cooler sites, with Beargrass common to all sites.

Climate: The western white pine can occur in various climates ranging from warm and wet to cool and dry. The average annual temperature ranges from 38 degrees Fahrenheit to 49 degrees Fahrenheit, and annual precipitation ranges from 45 to 130 inches.

Management: Blister rust, a fungus imported in 1910 on French white pine ornamental shrubs, decimated the white pine. Over the years, forest geneticists developed a strain of Western white pine resistant to blister rust. Reforestation efforts are underway today but are hampered by firs and other trees that took over the Western white pine`s range when this species died back.

Western Larch

Western Larch

One of the world`s few deciduous conifers

The western larch is one of the only coniferous trees to lose all its needles every year after they turn yellow; usually a trait only found in broadleaf trees. It is classified as one of the world`s few deciduous conifers. The western larch is usually one of the first trees to return following a forest fire because it thrives in the openings created by wildfires. This tree can live well over 500 years - with some found over 800 years old!

Range: Western Larch is usually found growing with other coniferous trees, including Douglas fir, grand fir, and ponderosa pine, on moist, mountainous slopes near streams throughout British Columbia down through northern central and northeastern Oregon. It prefers to grow at an altitude of 2,000 to 7,000 feet.

Character: It can grow up to 180 feet tall and features a conical crown. It grows very straight and has sparse needles on the short branches extending parallel to the ground. Needles are feathery and flat.

Climate: Western larch prefers cool, moist sites and depends on frequent disturbance.

Understory: The understory of the western larch is typically diverse shrub and herbaceous layers.

Management: Because of its intolerance to shade, western larch is managed with even-aged techniques such as clearcutting, shelterwood, and seed tree cuttings that encourage soil disturbance and improve chances for natural regeneration. Controlling competing species and creating mineral seedbeds with fire is essential to maintaining western larch in forest stands. Larch is harvested for high-quality lumber that is resistant to decay.

Photo by Bryan Dudley



The undisputed champion of the building industry

Engineers marvel at its dimensional stability and strength. Architects and designers admire its close grain and the warmth, beauty, and structural integrity it brings to a room. You`ll find Douglas fir structural lumber and products in homes worldwide from floor to ceiling. Its strength and availability in large dimensions make it outstanding for heavy-duty construction, such as trestles, bridges, and commercial buildings. Millions of Douglas fir Christmas trees are exported from Oregon each year.

Range: Douglas fir trees are important as a habitat for nesting birds, and decaying trees and snags are a key source of cavities for woodpeckers and other cavity nesters.

Character: A large, sun-loving conifer capable of living hundreds of years, attaining more than 200 feet in height and 10 feet in diameter.

Understory:Depending on moisture availability, understories vary from dense to sparse but are generally rich in shrubs and herbs. Douglas fir is a long-lived early-to-mid successional species. This means it can colonize recently disturbed sites and continue dominating them for hundreds of years.

Climate: Douglas fir forests grow under a wide variety of conditions. The climate of west-side Douglas fir forests ranges from wet and mild in the north to drier and warmer in the south. East-side Douglas fir forests are drier than those of southwestern Oregon and have more extreme daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations.

Management: Before human management, Douglas fir forests originated following large disturbances such as fire, landslides, and windstorms, often resulting in patchy, even-aged stands. Forest management practices such as clearcutting and shelterwood harvests, followed by planting and thinning, result in similar even-aged stands. Douglas fir trees become commercially valuable around the age of 30 years. Depending on management objectives, rotation lengths range from 30 years to over a hundred years. Management practices in drier areas like southwestern and eastern Oregon can include individual tree and small-group selection harvests, resulting in uneven-aged stands.

Grand Fir

Grand Fir

From Christmas trees to Christmas wrapping

Popular in the Cascade Range, the grand fir is often found growing alongside Douglas Fir and can even reach up to 300 feet in height. It`s a good-smelling tree with thick foliage of citrus-scented needles, making it ideal for Christmas trees and decorations. Besides decoration, the grand fir softwood is often used for papermaking and packing crates. Long ago, some Native Americans used the inner bark for treating colds and fevers and used the needles in tea.

Range: Besides growing alongside Douglas firs, the grand fir also grows well with Western hemlock, ponderosa pine, and engelmann spruce. Its shade-tolerant prefers cool, moist sites from the valley floor into the foothills and survives well up to 5,000 feet.

Character: The grand fir features thick foliage of flattened, glossy green needles 1-2 inches long with two white striations on the undersides. Cones typically measure 3-5 inches long and 1-2 inches wide with 150 short scales that encase tiny winged seeds. The grand fir`s thin bark makes it susceptible to fire. Without frequent fires, the grand fir would likely be the predominant conifer species in old-growth forests on the valley floor.

Understory: The understory of a grand fir forest includes white alders, huckleberries, elk sedges, and pinegrass. Grazers like deer, black bears, and elk tend to love these areas.

Climate: Although it can survive dry spells, it loves cool weather and can even survive harsh winter conditions with temperatures down to -100 degrees Fahrenheit! This is one reason they also do well in British Columbia and Montana, where the winters are harsh.

Management: Shelterwood cuttings are preferred for grand fir for even-aged management because regeneration and early growth are best in partial shade. However, it does regenerate well following seed trees or clearcutting. Pole-size and larger grand fir respond well to thinning and selection cuttings.

Quaking Aspen

Quaking Aspen

The trembling tree

Also known as "Trembling Aspen", it derives its name from the quaking of its leaves due to the long and flattened petioles that connect its leaves to its branches. Even the slightest breeze will cause the leaves to flutter. This gives the overall appearance that it is quaking or trembling, hence the scientific name tremuloides.

Range: The only absolute requirement for quaking aspen is lots of sunlight. Consequently, its range extends from New England through Canada, into Alaska, and south into California and Arizona, anywhere there is moist soil in openings or along edges of pine and spruce forests. This tree occurs in more states than any other tree.

Character: Quaking aspens can be identified by their smooth, white bark marked by black scars where lower branches have been "self-pruned." Its leaves are heart-shaped, 1 to 3 inches long, with finely saw-toothed margins and white undersides.

Understory: Quaking aspens grow in large and dense colonies throughout North America, so its understory can only support shade-tolerant shrubs and plants. Its leaves serve as food for caterpillars of various moth and butterfly species.

Climate: The quaking aspen is an adaptive species and can endure lows of -78 degrees Fahrenheit and highs of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. It prefers moist soil but can grow near intermittent springs in desert environments with less than 7 inches of annual precipitation.

Management: It propagates itself primarily through root sprouts, and extensive colonies are common. Each colony is its clone, where all trees have identical characteristics and share a single root structure. Pollination is inhibited by the fact that aspens are male or female, and large stands are usually all clones of the same sex. Used mainly for pulp products such as books, newsprint, and fine printing paper, aspen is perfect for panel products such as strands or wafer boards.

Photo by Byron Dudley
Black Cottonwood

Black Cottonwood

A well-read species

The Black Cottonwood is lightweight and strong for its weight, so it is used for plywood and high-quality book and magazine paper. Native Americans used the bark for treating all kinds of ailments, such as wounds and rheumatism. Today, we know that the bark contains salicin, which is very similar in structure to aspirin.

Range: It is restricted to stream and river courses throughout Oregon`s valley floors and foothills, where it can grow as extensive stands. It is particularly well suited to well-drained, gravelly soils near streams and is tolerant of flooding. It has a low drought tolerance.

Character: The Black Cottonwood is a fast-growing, large, broadleaf tree that can grow up to 200 feet tall and more than 8 feet in diameter. It is the tallest broadleaf tree in Western North America. The bark is gray with tentacles, and the leaves are glossy dark green on top and light green on the undersides. Although fast-growing, this sun-loving tree has a short life span, with trees rarely living more than 100 years.

Climate: The Black Cottonwood prefers moist, riparian areas at 0-6,000 feet and grows best in full sunlight.

Understory: The leaves and shoots are highly prized as food for many wildlife species, including deer, elk, and beaver. Large birds often use the tree for their nesting sites.

Management: It is best to manage these trees to keep the possibility of fire as low as possible, as any fire will kill their seeds. A very fast-growing hybrid of black cottonwood and Eastern Cottonwood is grown in plantations in Oregon for pulp, lumber, and biomass.

Lomatium Cous

Lomatium Cous

Lomatium cous is a perennial herb of the family Apiaceae. The root is prized as a food by the tribes of the southern plateau of the Pacific Northwest. Meriwether Lewis collected a specimen in 1806 while on his expedition. It is called x?aws in the Sahaptin language and qaamsit and qaaws in the Nez Perce language.
Watson`s Desert Parsley

Watson`s Desert Parsley

Watson`s Desert Parsley is a puberulent to nearly glabrous perennial, somewhat similar in appearance to Lomatium Cous, with one to several stems arising from 5-15 cm from an elongated, stout, to the somewhat tuberous rootstock. The stems often lack leaves. The leaves are bipinnate, and including the petioles are 5-8 cm long. The segments of the leaflets are linear in shape with obtuse tips and range from 2-4 mm long.