Friends of Trees

November 2021: A Message from Yashar| Post-planting inspections |Roots & Pollen

TREEMAIL: News from Friends of Trees

Hello partners and friends,

As you may have already heard, a tragic accident occurred during a Friends of Trees Green Space planting event in Portland on November 6, which resulted in the passing of a volunteer. Our team is in shock and heartbroken at this unfathomable loss of life, and our hearts go out to the family and everyone who was involved. Friends of Trees has always put community safety first, and will continue to do so.

We understand this is a lot to process. At this time, the individual’s family has asked for privacy, and we are doing our best to respect that.

We appreciate you all, and are so grateful for the opportunity to know and work with you in this life that is so precious.

Be well,

Yashar Vasef

Executive Director

Friends of Trees


It’s Time To Put Down Some Roots

Last month, we told you why you should leave the leaves. We got such great feedback that we decided to create a regular tree care column, Leaflet, so that our eager experts can pass on their knowledge. We’ll share best practices for tree care and maintenance, explore common myths and misconceptions, and dig into the science behind it all.

“Now that the leaves are on the ground, we get busy,” says Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Drew Land about the November tree planting season. “Speaking of busy, roots are always busy.” We plant trees now so that while the trees are dormant above ground, they can focus on establishing their roots below ground. From timing to mulching to watering, our strategies help shape the tree’s root system.

“Roots are like muscles,” Drew says. “They strengthen in response to stress. Planting trees now, while they’re dormant, will build their resilience. In ten months, when autumn winds hit their leaves for the first time, they’ll be ready.”

Roots: How to get your tree to stand strong. Read More


Our inspection program connects volunteers to specific trees,

visit after visit.

When Friends of Trees plants a tree, we don’t just wash the dirt off of our hands and move onto the next one. We return to prune it, replenish mulch, and make sure everything is looking good. These check-ups are for more than just to care for that individual tree—we’re also collecting data on their survival. 

There’s a set of older trees that we have been collecting data on for over a decade: Tier Omega. Tier Omega trees were planted in the 2010 season, and we’ve been checking on a subset of them, the same exact subset, every year since they were planted.

“There’s this great community feel to it,” Neighborhood Trees Senior Specialist Haley Miller says about the inspection program.

“Revisiting the same trees over several years is like checking in with young friends. I love seeing how they are doing, how fast they are growing, and discovering the many ways that they are adapting to life’s challenges.”

Mike Ablutz, Volunteer Tree Inspector

Read more about our tree inspection program.

Get to Know

Fresh faces at Friends of Trees!

Which Friends of Tree staff says that their favorite tree is the willow oak? Who spends their free time hiking? (Spoiler: almost everyone). Who has the best hummus recipe? Beneath the Bark is a bonus page on our website that digs deeper into what makes our staff tick.

They let you know what their roles are, like Ian Bonham, who says, “My favorite bits are getting to plan and implement some really fun neighborhood tree planting projects.” They share their favorite pastimes, like Christine Smith, who enjoys looking for wildflowers and trying to identify them. Some even say what course they would love to teach. For Taylor Glass in the Eugene office, it would have to be art in the outdoors.

Learn more about our staff at Beneath the Bark. Read more.

The Eugene Branch

Pollen: It’s Not What You Think

When you think of pollen, you probably think of springtime. But for trees, pollen season really starts in December. There’s no need to panic! Eugene Director Erik Burke is here to guide you through everything you need to know about tree pollen, what types of trees are actually allergenic, and what circumstances might carry that pollen to your nose.

“Many people want to make their tree choice related to pollen,” Erik says. “People tend to think that if it has a showy flower, you’re likely to get allergies, but luckily that’s not really the case.” If a tree has a showy flower, it means that it’s pollinated by insects, and it’s almost impossible to get allergies from it. Trees that give us allergies are wind-pollinated and have non-descript flowers, like the incense cedar, which just started putting out its pollen cones.

Erik says that allergies should not deter us from planting trees. “It’s possible that trees actually take in more pollen than they release. They hold it on their branches and keep it out of the air.” As always, the solution appears to be more trees.

Nothing to sneeze at! Read more.

November 30th is Giving Tuesday

This week we celebrate Giving Tuesday! We hope that you think of Friends of Trees among the organizations you give to this year. We have some awesome incentives, like a Double Your Donation $5,000 Challenge. On Tuesday, your donation DOUBLES thanks to some generous donors!

Join us Tuesday on Instagram and Facebook, where we’ll be sharing videos about trees and community throughout the day.

Get Involved

It’s our 33rd season of planting and caring for trees – JOIN US!

Here are some upcoming volunteer events:

  • December 4, Natural area planting, Rock Creek Headwaters, Damascus
  • December 4, All Eugene-Springfield Neighborhoods Planting
  • December 11, Neighborhood planting, SE Portland Neighborhoods, Portland

We have plenty of other events going on as we ramp up our busy planting season! Register to volunteer here for Portland Metro area events, and check out the Eugene event calendar here. We can’t wait to plant trees with you!

Our events are modified as part of our COVID response to ensure they are as safe and healthy as possible, more information is here.



Friends of Trees inspires people to improve the world around them through a simple solution: Planting Trees. Together.

(503) 282-8846: Portland office

(541) 632-3683: Eugene office

Learn more about how Friends of Trees greens our region + grows community through checking out other issues of Treemail here