Heritage Tree Program

About the Heritage Tree Program

The Philomath Heritage Tree Program was established by Resolution 22-09 in 2022 to recognize, foster appreciation of, and honor particular trees of significance in our community. These are trees that tell a story; confound and astound; educate locals and visitors about significant people or events from the past; have survived natural disasters; and stand as silent sentries to the passage of time. Trees cool our city, clean our air and water, beautify our neighborhoods, provide habitat for wildlife, and generally create a more livable community.

View our Heritage Tree Program brochure and map!


Designated Heritage Trees

The City will install identifying markers of heritage trees with the donation of $50 toward the Heritage Tree Program. Individuals, organizations, or the City Council may elect to make the donation. Tree owners will be given a certificate of recognition from the City indicating the tree’s status as a heritage tree at no charge. 

Participation in the Heritage Tree Program is voluntary and tree owners maintain rights of removal consistent with City Municipal Code. However, in recognition of their unique status and value to the community, property owners are strongly encouraged to inform the Tree Board of their intention to remove a heritage tree prior to taking action. For public trees, the Public Works Director will review the need for tree removal with the Tree Board prior to taking action.

American Elm tree


(Elmus americana)

1050 Applegate Street

Acknowledged in 2023


The first tree to be nominated for Heritage Tree status, this lovely elm was carefully preserved during the construction of the Philomath public library in 1995.  The library itself was built by volunteers, requiring incredible perseverance and a battle with the federal government that garnered national attention.  The tree casts its dappled shade over library patrons coming and going, honoring the efforts of those who created this essential community resource and stands as a living monument to Philomath's extraordinary spirit of volunteerism.

American Elm tree


(Populus trichocarpa)

Southern end of 9th Street

Acknowledged in 2023


With a massive trunk deeply furrowed and blanketed in thick moss, this huge cottonwood towers over the tree canopy in Marys River Park.  With a diameter of 6.5 feet (78 inches) it is one of the largest cottonwoods in Oregon.  Standing approx. 160 feet tall, its vast root network helps stabilize the bank of the river, and its crown provides exceptional nesting and foraging habitat for wildlife (birds, moths, and butterflies in particular).  Large old trees such as this one provide numerous ecological benefits to the riparian areas where they are found.

American Elm tree


(Cedrus deodara)

1506 Applegate Street

Acknowledged in 2023


All who see this cedar stop to wonder at its spectacular form.  Limbs swoop and rise from the trunk in all directions, graceful and striking.  Its spreading canopy has shaded generations of children as they pass on their way to school and beautifies the neighborhood.  This tree is unique and much beloved by the community.

American Elm tree


(Sequoiadendron giganteum)

1101 Main Street

Acknowledged in 2023


Planted in 2008 to replace the previous town Christmas tree (the giant sequoia cut down to make way for the Hwy 20/34 couplet in 2007), this giant sequoia was donated by Chris Shonnard of local Shonnard's Nursery.  Located on the grounds of the Philomath Museum-Benton County Historical Society, the tree is decorated with lights each December and is visited by Santa Claus soon after, a tradition enjoyed by many local families.  This tree graces the expansive lawn of the historic Philomath College building, built in 1867 and the center of the town that grew up around it.  The city was named for the college, which means "lover of learning".

American Elm tree


(Quercus garryanna)

24930 Grange Hall Road

Acknowledged in 2023


In 1973, a fallen limb from this Oregon white oak (Quercus garryanna) was found on the ground by OSU Forestry professor Mike Newton.  He counted the rings and discovered that the tree was then over 430 years old.  Located near the confluence of Greasy Creek and Marys River, it was almost surely a landmark for seasonal gatherings of the local Native American tribes (Ampinefu) and continues to be a Benton County bearing tree.  This ancient tree graced the Bennett homestead, one of the founders of Philomath College.  From counting tree rings, it can be estimated that this tree sprouted from an acorn in 1539 to become a majestic example of our native oak.

Bigleaf Maple


(Acer macrophyllum)

2987 Mount Union AVEth Street

Acknowledged in 2024


Maybe the most beautiful tree in Philomath.  Huge, with a mossy trunk and wide spreading limbs, this native Oregon maple graces the northeast corner of the cemetery.  In summer, the leaves (the largest of any maple species) offer deep, cooling shade, and in fall the colors are extravagant and spectacular.

Ponderosa Pine


(Pinus Ponderosa)

233 N. 7th Street th Street

Acknowledged in 2024


Commonly associated with arid high-elevation Eastern Oregon, this huge Ponderosa pine has thrived in our soggy town.  (Native to Oregon, a genetically distinct variant is found in the Willamette Valley, although agriculture and development have rendered it fairly rare.)  These trees are easily identifiable by their long needles and deep orange bark broken into irregular plates. In northwest Philomath, Westbrook Park features a groove of small Ponderosas. Given the opportunity, they can reach 200 ft tall and live to be 700 years.  This grand tree is __ tall, 52''in diameter, and towers over the neighborhood.


Heritage Tree Eligibility


In order to qualify as a Heritage Tree, a tree must meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Specimen: exceptional size, form, beauty, rarity, or horticultural value
  • Historic: recognized by virtue of age, or associated with noted person or historical event
  • Landmark: recognizable landmark in the community
  • Collection: notable grove, avenue, or planting

Geographic Area

Trees within the greater Philomath area which includes the city's urban growth boundary, are eligible to be nominated for Philomath Heritage Tree status. 

Trees on Public or Private Property

Anyone can nominate a tree on public or private property, but the Public Works Director must sign the nomination form for publicly owned trees, including those within the right-of-way and parks, and the private property owner must sign the nomination form for trees on private lands.   

Submission Information

The program will be promoted annually, with nomination forms accepted by 5 p.m. on the 3rd Tuesday of March in order for annual approvals to coincide with the City’s Arbor Day recognition(s).

Nomination Form - fillable form; must print, sign and submit

Note: Photos must be submitted digitally by email and be JPEG or PNG, with a high enough resolution and file size to be displayed on the website and used in printed materials. The City will request additional photos if needed. 

Submit nomination form and photos to: 

Philomath Public Works 
PO Box 400
1515 Willow Street Philomath, OR 97370

Review of nominating applications and conferring of heritage tree status will be done by a Heritage Tree Committee, consisting of the members of the Tree Board and at least two additional volunteers. The Heritage Tree Committee will meet on or around April 1 each year to review nomination forms and recommend trees to admit to the Heritage Tree Program to the City Council by way of resolution for consideration. 






(Pinus Ponderosa)

233 N. 7th Street th Street

Acknowledged in 2024