Portland’s flora and fauna

Familiarize yourself with these beautiful and delicious Portland natives.

1736515078_4e8ff2915c_o_webOaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a great place to see Portland's great blue herons.
Photo by Donna S. via Flickr

Portland’s thousands of acres of parks and wilderness provide the perfect setting for native plants and animals.

Douglas fir

Named after a Scottish botanist studying in the Northwest, the Douglas fir became Oregon’s state tree in 1939. With timber that’s said to rival concrete in strength, it’s quite literally a building block of Portland. Most true old-growth specimens were felled, but some remain, like the 242-foot Goliath marked along the Lower Macleay Trail in Forest Park, thought to be the tallest Douglas fir in a U.S. city.

Great blue heron

Standing three feet tall, with a wingspan of six feet, Portland’s official city bird is hard to miss. These water-loving residents live year-round in urban natural areas like Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge and are celebrated at the Portland Audubon Society every May.

Western white trillium

This three-petaled plant is one of the showiest in the forest, and its pure white petals and bright yellow stamens herald the arrival of spring. Trillium blooms from March–May and is especially prolific in Forest Park and Tryon Creek State Natural Area; Tryon hosts a Trillium Festival each April.

Cutthroat trout

Few large urban areas can claim to have creeks and streams that support schools of cutthroat trout; in contrast, Portland has eight. The most easily accessible is Balch Creek, along Forest Park’s Lower Macleay Trail, where you might spot these fish.

Bald eagle

The national symbol of the United States, bald eagles are found year-round in Oregon. It’s not uncommon to see these majestic birds, which were once on the brink of extinction, near Portland rivers, especially on Sauvie Island.

Dungeness crab

Although this Pacific Ocean crab is named after a town in Washington and famously harvested in Alaska’s Deadliest Catch, it’s been Oregon’s state crustacean since 2009 and the sweet, fresh meat plays a starring on many Portland menus, especially in the late winter.

Golden chanterelle and Oregon white truffle

Portland’s ample rain and forests make it prime mushroom territory, including prized edible varieties like chanterelles. Buy them at farmers’ markets from vendors specializing in only wild mushrooms or learn (and taste) more at fungi festivals around the state, including the Oregon Truffle Festival.

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