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Local tulip tree nominated for Clark County heritage status

The Columbian
Published: October 21, 2023, 5:34am

WASHOUGAL — A tulip tree at Parker’s Landing Historical Park has been nominated for Clark County heritage status with anticipation of a decision in November.

The Parkersville National Historic Site Advisory Committee of the Port of Camas-Washougal is nominating the tulip tree for Clark County Heritage status to bring more public attention to the beautiful, significant trees at Parker’s Landing Historical Park.

Erika Johnson coordinates the nominations for the Washington State University Extension Master Gardener Heritage Tree program. She keeps a list of significant trees in unincorporated Clark County. Johnson coordinated with Jessica George, a certified arborist and outreach coordinator for urban forestry, to find a volunteer to take the required measurements on the nomination papers for the park’s tulip tree.

The program seeks long-lived and large trees that serve as living markers of times gone by or grow in notable places. The trees to be considered may be associated with historic people or events or be unusual by their presence in this part of the world.

The tulip tree at Parker’s Landing Historical Park has significant height and a significant story. David C. Parker, the first permanent settler in the state of Washington, settled at this location with his family in January 1845. At the time, the British still held Fort Vancouver and claimed the land north of the Columbia River. A dock called Parker’s Landing, ferry service to Lady Island, and the town of Parkersville, platted by Parker on May 1, 1854, were significant “firsts” at this site.

Tulip trees grow in the eastern United States and on the Pacific Coast. Their massive trunks are cut for their valuable soft wood. Pioneers hollowed out a single log to make a long, lightweight canoe.

The tulip tree is also a favorite nesting tree for birds. Its flowers attract hummingbirds and have special value to honeybees. Indigenous people used the inner bark medicinally for worming medicine, antiarthritic, cough syrup and cholera remedy.

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