Woody Tree and Shrub Checklist for Emigration Creek Natural Area

Westminster College Campus

Dr. A. T. Harrison, Biology Dept., Jan. 2000

(updated 10-23-02)


Purpose and Nature of Project: 

This is a preliminary inventory of trees and shrubs that are found along Emigration Creek as it passes 1/8 of a mile, from east to west, across Westminster campus, at 1300 E. in Salt Lake City.  All plants listed were found only on the creek banks.  This small, riparian forest is a mixture of native and non-native species.  The original pre-settlement trees along the creek were primarily Box Elder with scattered Peachleaf Willow,  Narrowleaf Cottonwood, and Gambel’s Oak.  There are a few, native understory shrub species such as Chokecherry, Wood’s Rose, Black Hawthorn and Red Osier Dogwood growing  along the creek. All of these understory species have edible fruit and are normally spread by birds.  Over the past 15 years, students and volunteers have planted additional native understory, shade tolerant shrubs such as Creeping Oregon Grape, Golden Current and Chokecherry to enhance wildlife value and prevent erosion along the steep creek banks.   This list will be helpful for students trying to identify species for class projects.  Trees and shrubs can be identified by their leaves and flowers during the spring and summer, and can also be identified by their twig and branch characteristics during the winter.


Learning Resources for Local Tree and Shrub Identification:


An internet site that provides useful illustrations for such identification can be found at: http://gaia.flemingc.on.ca/~dhendry/. 

Good tree identification guides for local trees include:

Rocky Mountain Tree Finder, Tom Watts, 1972, Nature Study Guild     Rochester, New York;

            Mountain Plants of Northeastern Utah, Berniece A. Andersen and Arthur H. Holmgren, Revised 1996,Utah State Univ. Extension HG 506

Trees of Utah, Sherman G. Brough and Darrell J. Weber, 1993 Bristlecone Press, Provo, Utah.

            A useful cultivated tree and shrub identification guide is Manual of Cultivated Plants by Liberty Hyde Bailey available in the Westminster College Library


Importance of Learning Native vs. Introduced Species:


Over the past hundred years, non-native trees and shrubs have been accidentally and intentionally introduced to the creek by man, birds and wind from adjacent landscapes.  Those are noted in the following alphabetized list with an asterisk following the common names.   An awareness of native vs. introduced species is important in urban area natural restoration projects since many of the introduced species grow more rapidly than the native species and over a period of time will overgrow the native species and shade them out.  In addition the introduced landscape tree and shrub species often have little value to native animals such as birds.  Learning to distinguish native trees and shrubs from non-native species will be important for future management of this and other “semi-natural”, urban forest habitats.  This list is typical of the riparian forest remnants along almost all the creeks in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.  These important native habitats along our remaining urban streams are gradually being taken over and replaced by less desirable or ecologically less valuable assemblages of common landscape trees and shrubs.  Learning to recognize and name these trees and shrubs will become increasingly important in the future to foster efforts toward urban habitat restoration projects.



The names of the tree and shrub species below that are marked with an asterisk (*) are species that are not native to Emigration Creek. Those plants without asterisks are native Utah species, most of which have persisted along the creek from presettlement times. The native Utah species that have been planted in the natural area over the past 15 years are marked with a double asterisk (**).



Common Name

Latin Name



American Elm*

Ulmus americana

Scattered, Reaches 1-5, Leaves larger than Siberian Elm. Seeds from mature tree W. of Ferry Hall site (current Gore Building), killed by Dutch Elm disease in appx. 1999.


Bigtooth Maple**

Acer grandidentatum

Tubelings planted (Environmental Biology class) in 1988-94 on upper areas of Reach 2 (above trail) 4 surviving.


Black Hawthorn

Crataegus douglasii

Only one small, native tree on north side of Reach 7 W. of stairway of Reach 6

4. Black Locust Robinia pseudoacadia One tree E. side Reach 1 in understory


Blue Spruce**

Picea pungens

Reach 2, south side

seedlings planted 1998. Sept.11, 2001 memorial seedling E. of Nunemaker, Reach 3 (Dale BIanucci).


Box Elder

Acer negundo var. interior

The most common, large native tree in all Reaches


Concolor Fir**

Abies concolor

Reach 2, south side.

Seedling 1998 (biology class)


Douglas Fir**

Pseudotsuga douglasii

Reach 2 , south side

one Seedling from appx.1988 (by ATH);

other seedling planted in 1998 (biology class).


English Walnut *

Juglans regia

Several large and seedling trees north side Reach 3, 4, 5 &S. side of Reach 4. Planted by ground squirrels from former mature grove on site of new Giovale Library.


Fremont Cottonwood

Populus fremontii

Several large, mature trees on north side of creek Reach 6. Probably from seedling when soccer field was constructed in 1940's. An 18 inch dbh tree on N. side Reach 4; 8 inch sapling (83-84 flood) on N. side Reach 6.


Gambel Oak

Quercus gambelli

Only two clones, S. side of Reach 5, north side of Reaches 6 or 7.  Seedlings from acorns plants in appx. 1994 along track fence of Reach 5 & N. side Reach 6 (by ATH).


Green Ash *

Fraxinus pennsylvanica

Scattered seedlings and saplings on both sides of Reaches 1,2,3,4,5,6.  Need to be removed.

13. Honey Locust Gleditsia triacanthos 2 trees E. side Reach 1, one with trunk spines one without.


Horse Chestnut*

Aesculus hippocastanum

Several scattered saplings and seedlings planted by squirrels from former mature tree on site of new Giovale Library on S. side Reach 2 & 3.


Lanceleaf Cottonwood Hybrids

Populus fremontii X Populus angustifolia

All Reaches.  Leaves lance-shaped, intermediate between narrow and broadleaf cottonwood species.

16. Mulberry* Morus alba One tree E. side Reach 1


Narrowleaf Cottonwood

Populus angustifolia

Only mature tree S. side of Reach 2 with small clonal root sprouts around it.  Transplanted (1993) east of bridge in Reach 2.


Norway Maple *

Acer platanoides

Both sides of creek, esp. west of Nunemaker . N. side W. of Reach 6. All need to be removed.


Peachleaf Willow

Salix amygdaloides

Only 4 trees: one on S. side Reach 1, 2 on N. side and one on S. side Reach 6.  Reach 1 tree predates 1983-84 flood by appx. ten years and Reach 6 trees were seedlings established after 1983-84 floods (personal obser. ATH).

20. Ponderosa Pine** Pinus ponderosa One tree N. side Reach 4; shaded and dwarfed


Siberian Elm *

Ulmus pumila

Several large trees, Reaches 1,2, 4, 6  & seedlings in most reaches.  Need to be removed.

22. Silver Poplar* Populus alba One tree S. side Reach 6 from seedling of 1983-84 flood.


Thinleaf Alder**

Alnus tenuifolia

One planted 1997 on creek bank N. side Reach 4 (by ATH)


Tree of Heaven *

Ailanthus altissima

Weedy tree with many seedlings& saplings, both sides of Reaches 3,4,5,6.  Need to be removed and controlled.


Water Birch**

Betula occidentalis

Scattered, planted trees, S. side Reach 1, N. & S. side Reach 4.  Older trees planted with Nunemaker landscaping. Two younger trees E. of Black's Bridge planted appx. 1994.





Common Name

Latin Name


1. Bittersweet* Solanum dulcamara N. side Reach 6 and probably in other reaches




Cornus sanguinea

Identified by reddish twigs and underside veins in high relief. Seedlings from old campus landscape plants spread here by birds. A few plants on S. bank Reach 4. & N. bank W. of Reach 6



Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa

No original plants.  Seedlings planted  N. side of Reach 2 in 1988-90, purple leaf variety.  Other bare root seedlings donated by Tree Utah planted in 1996-97 on north & south side of Reach 2, north side of Reach 3, north side Reach 4 and 6.


Common Privet*

Ligustrum vulgare

At least 3 plants W. of Nunemaker, Reach 4?  Also probably in thicket of Reach 1.

5. Diamond Willow** Salix rigida N. side Reach 4, Planted on campus on site of future Giovale Library (ATH) Spring 1993. Donation from American Forests, Famous and Historic Tree Project. Shrub is named Lewis & Clark Diamond Willow. Propagated from a plant from Washburn, North Dakota, the site of a winter camp on the westward expedition. Lewis and Clark wintered with the Mandan Indians in 1905-06.
6. English Hawthorn* Crataegus laevigata N. side Reach 3N (lower trail). N side Reach 6 (upper trail),
7. Greenleaf Plum* Prunus sp. 3 plants N. side Reach 6; with spines & longer tapering leaves


Mahaleb Cherry *

Prunus mahaleb

One on north side of Reach 1; N. side Reach 4. Recognize from other plums by roundish, small leaves



Oregon Grape**

Mahonia repens

No original plants.  All existing shrubs planted either in 1993 or 1997 from Tree Utah donations.

Reaches 2,3,4,5,6.


Purpleleaf Flowering Plum *

Prunus sp.

Several on south side of creek in Reaches 3, 4 & 5; N. side of Reach 5 (at fence)


Tartarian Honeysuckle*

Lonicera tartarica

Several plants W. of Nunemaker, Reach 4 and probably other Reaches .

13. Virginia Creeper* Parthenocissus quinquefolia Planted on fence, Reaches 4,5, & 6 (by ATH)
14. Wood's Rose Rosa woodsii N. side Reach 2, 5 & W. of Reach 6.