Habitats and Ecology
Mount Pisgah Arboretum’s most valuable asset is its 209 acres of diverse terrain and natural ecosystems. Habitats within MPA include a river meadow and riparian forest along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River, Oregon white oak savanna, wet forests and a Water Garden, low elevation grassland and prairies, and Douglas-fir and incense cedar forests on the hillsides, representing many native southern Willamette Valley ecosystems. These habitats are home to many species of native mosses, lichens, fungi, and wildflowers. In total, 67 plant families, 231 genera, and 339 species are identified on our published plant list.
For an indexed list of plants and their ethnobotanical uses, click here.
For an in-depth look at native plant species (growing conditions, butterfly and bird attractants, and pollinating species) around the Willamette Valley, click here.
Wildlife also abounds within the Arboretum’s borders. This very special place has healthy populations of deer, coyote, foxes, and many other small mammals. Bats are especially noticable hunting over the river and in other open areas. Our water garden is home to a population of threatened Western Pond Turtles, as well as other sensitive species such as the Red-legged Frog. Gopher and garter snakes, tree frogs, and lizards are all abundant. A stroll through the meadows or Water Garden in the summer months shows off the diversity of insect life as well–dragonflies, damselflies, native bees, grasshoppers, butterflies, and other beautiful insects abound. The Arboretum is one of the most popular birding sites in the area, playing host to a diverse array of migratory and nesting song birds, raptors, and waterfowl. Bird walks are held on an almost monthly basis.
Though most of the Arboretum has been left in a natural state in preservation of the native habitats, there are some very attractive planned and planted gardens. The Patricia M. Baker Memorial Wildflower Garden is a 2-acre garden in the River Meadow showcasing the rich beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s native flora. Examples include Vine maple, Mock orange, Pacific serviceberry, Douglas spiraea, Western azalea, Red-flowering currant, Tall larkspur, Western columbine, Large camas, Pacific trillium, and Oregon iris. Other planted areas include an entrance garden with 89 species of woody plants including 57 (mostly Asian) Rhododendron species and 13 native and introduced tree species including maples, oaks, magnolias, pines and Metasequoia.
The Arboretum is committed to using an ecologically sound approach to all aspects of site development and maintenance. Evidence of the commitment can be found in the Arboretum’s Manipulation of Vegetation and Land Policy. This document describes the steps that will be taken to ensure natural ecosystem processes are respected, examples of which include leaving dead wood on the forest floor and minimizing soil disturbance.