Shade Trees in the Northwest

The Northwest--including Washington state, Oregon, Idaho and Montana--possesses some shade trees that are specifically for the area, and some that have a more widespread distribution through the United States and Canada. Gardeners in Oregon and Washington have a different choice than those in Montana, and one tree grows in the whole area. Shade trees in the Northwest can stand up to the cold winter temperatures and the warmer conditions along the coast.

Oregon Vine Maple

Oregon vine maple (Acer circinatum Pursh), also known as the vine maple, and is found in Oregon, Washington and California in the Northwest United States and in British Columbia in Canada. The tree grows up to 20 to 40 feet tall with bright-green, round leaves that turn yellow-orange or red in the fall and purple, and white flowers that bloom in March, April and May, growing in short clusters at the ends of the branches. Plant Oregon vine maple in full or partial shade and a moist soil. The seeds are favored by birds and small animals and the flowers are a source of nectar for butterflies.

Paper Birch

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) is found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, and is widely distributed in Canada. The tree grows from 50 to 75 feet tall with a single or multiple trunks and the distinctive white bark of the birch tree family. The bright green leaves turn yellow in the fall; yellow flowers bloom in April and are followed by small, brown fruits. Plant paper birch in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in a soil that is moist and fertile. Birds and small mammals come for the seeds and butterflies show up for the nectar.

Green Ash

Green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica Marsh.), also known as red ash, is a member of the olive family and is found in Montana in the Northwest U.S., as well as a wide area of Canada. The tree grows from 50 to 75 feet tall with deep green leaves that turn yellow in the fall. The tree is either male or female with small, purple flowers growing in clusters in April, May and June. The paddle-shaped fruit replaces the flowers in the clusters. Plant green ash in full sun, partial shade or full shade and in a soil that is dry, moist or wet. The fruit is a favorite bird food and the flowers bring the butterflies.

Keywords: Northwest trees, Oregon vine maple, paper birch, green ash

About this Author

Regina Sass has been a writer for 10 years, penning articles for publications in the real estate and retail industries. Her online experience includes writing, advertising and editing for an educational website. Sass is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.