One of the things I was hoping would happen with this blog is that people would contact me with questions, requests, stories to share about trees. The first such contact asks about a tree in the Overlook Park. (Thank you, Cheryl!) It’s pictured on the band Yo La Tengo’s album cover, Fade. I’d like to know how a band from Hoboken, NJ has a photo shoot in Portland, OR.
(Late addition: Here’s a Willamette Week interview with Portland photographer, Carlie Armstrong, who was hired by the band’s record company.)
I searched around to see if the species of this tree was identified anywhere. It’s a gigantic elm, but I don’t know what kind. I found this heritage tree elm identification key by Phyllis Reynolds, so I went to take some photos and collect a few leaves. Without seeds, I’m still unsure about the identification of this tree. American elm, Ulmus americana? The leaf shape, size, double serration, and number of veins and the ropey bark match up. Let’s go with that for now.
Inside that curtain of foliage-clothed weeping limbs:
From which direction was the album cover shot taken? One thing is certain — the tree no longer looks the way it did for the album cover shoot.
The first tree lost to Dutch elm disease in Portland was in Overlook Park in 1977. Dutch elm disease was first identified by a researcher in the Netherlands in 1922, but the fungal disease originates in Asia where elm species are more resistant to the disease than American and European species. It is spread by bark beetles, underground through the root system, and by human activity. Portland Parks & Recreation Urban Forestry keeps busy monitoring trees for this incurable and devastating disease, treating through inoculation, and removing infected trees (42 trees in 2012). Detailed information, including annual reports, are available about the City of Portland Elm Protection Program.
Overlook Park is home to many beautiful trees, located on N. Interstate Ave at N. Fremont.