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Fire and Forests

Hills Creek Reservoir
Hills Creek is a small reservoir just past Oakridge, largely surrounded by young tree plantations. The vegetation here is much like that of our next stop, Shady Beach, before it burned. At this stop we mostly covered some common Cascade forest organisms such as Poison Oak Rhus diversiloba, Pacific Madrone Arbutus menzeisii, Big leaf maple Acer macrophyllum, and Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia.

The Pacific Yew, Taxus brevifolia, are found from sourthern Alaska to northern California. They are commonly found as an under story tree in Pacific coast forests, growing in similar areas as western hemlock. The leaves range from one and one-half to one inches long. The bark is a thick dark purplish or red-brown color: flaky or scaly. Pacific Yew has a long reddish, oval fruit that is 2/8-5/8 inches.

It's been called the most promising new cancer drug to come along in years. Taxol, extracted from the bark of Pacific Yew, has been shown to be effective against ovarian cancer and may assist in the treatment of other forms of the disease.

Poisin Oak, Rhus diversiloba, is usually an erect shrub, but in low light it will climb and use aerial rootlets. It has oak-shaped toothed leaflets in groups of three. Its color is a light shiny green to dark green to bright red depending on the time of year. Small green flowers occur in leaf axils. The poisonous fruits are small white or cream colored berries which hang in clusters. Environmental conditions often result large variations in plant form from one locale to another.

Other Organisms at Hills Creek:

Pacific Madrone

Big Leaf Maple

Related Sites

Pacific Yew & Taxol

Pacific yew Trees to Know in Oregon

Environmental Debate over Pacific Yew

Poison Oak

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