The 10-inch pods of the Black Locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). (Photo by Ed McMackin)

The 10-inch pods of the Black Locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia). (Photo by Ed McMackin)

Out There: Tremendous Trees – Part 1

‘This temperate area was recognized as a good place to bring interesting and striking tree seedlings to grow.’

By Ed McMackin, biologist by profession and naturalist by nature

Several years ago, for the July 2, 2020 issue of the Creston Valley Advance, I wrote about exotic trees growing in the Kootenay Lake-Creston area. The article included the over 100-year-old Honey Locust, which has since has been cut down. “Golden Chain”, a variety of locust tree, was also mentioned. I also wrote about the Tulip Tree (in the Magnolia family) growing in the area, one of my favorites. Also included was Lombardy Poplar, American Elm, Red Oak, Chinese Elm, and the Plane Tree (a.k.a. Sycamore), which marks the edge of Highway 3A, near the Gray Creek Store.

I have since received a special request from a reader to explore this topic further.

The Kootenay Lake-Creston area is part of what has been known as the wet Columbia-Kootenay Mountains. In past years, this temperate area was recognized as a good place to bring interesting and striking tree seedlings and cuttings to grow for ornamental and landscape purposes. The forests in this regeion were originally mostly coniferous, with a scattering of broad-leaf tree species such as birch, maple, cascara, and alders, which were sometimes found in their shrub-forms.

To meet settler’s preferences, a host of broad-leaved tree species were brought in from nearly all over the world. With places “carved” out of evergreen forests, it was fitting to have a few broad-leaved trees around. Species which did best were those that came from areas of similar conditions – humid, cool, moist, mountainous, and coast-like.

A few species have become part of the area’s natural tree-compliment in that they have become established – able to survive on their own, without any care or maintenance. An example is the Ailanthus (Tree of heaven), which has even produced seedlings on land that was once part of an old farmstead in the area. (See “A Silkmoth Story” in the Creston Valley Advance newspaper, Feb. 22, 2022).

READ MORE: Out There: A Silkmoth Story

Our introduced species came mainly from Eastern North America, Southern United States, Europe, and Asiatic countries – American Elm, Basswood, Cork Elm, Cork Oak, Chinese Chestnut, Catalpa (Indian Bean Tree), Ailanthus and Ginkgo (a.k.a. Gingko), the only surviving species of the Ginkgoales family.

We will talk about conifers next time in “Tremendous Trees – Part 2”.

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