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 valleys and slopes; 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, ferns, shrubs, and wildflowers. There are also several species of introduced tree species. In total, 67 families, 231 genera, and 339 species are identified on our published plant list.

To download our printable plant list, click here.

For an indexed list of plants, 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 endangered 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 fields or water garden in the summer shows off the diversity of insect life as well-dragonflies, damselflies, cicada, grasshoppers, butterflies, and other beautiful bugs are everywhere. The Arboretum is one of the most popular birding sites in the area, playing host to a huge variety of migratory and resident song birds, raptors, and fowl.

Download our bird list for more details.


Though most of the Arboretum has been left in a natural-looking state to reflect native habitats, there are some very attractive planned and planted gardens. The Patricia M. Baker Memorial Wildflower Garden is a 2-acre specialty garden in the River Meadow, was planted with 37 families, 70 genera and 112 species of trees, shrubs, ferns, perennials and annuals adapted to mesic and riparian habitats, some indigenous to the site and others native to other parts of the West. Examples include: dogwood, mountain ash, vine maple, mock orange, service berry, spiraea, azalea, flowering currant, larkspur, columbine, Canadian bunchberry, violet, lewisia, penstemon, camas, trillium, and iris. Other planted areas include an entrance garden with 89 planted species of woody plants including 57 (mostly Asian) Rhododendron species and 13 native and introduced tree species including maples, oaks, magnolias, pines and Metasequoia.

Habitat Management

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.