LEGEND OF THE OCTOPUS TREE
AT CAPE MEARES STATE SCENIC VIEWPOINT
SITKA SPRUCE - (PICEA SITCHENSIS)
The Octopus Tree is a massive Sitka spruce with branches growing like giant tentacles from its 50-foot base. It is situated approximately 600 feet from the scenic viewpoint. The tree’s odd shape, according to local historians and Tillamook tribal descendants, comes not from the ravages of wind, as some have said, but from its function as a ceremonial site, shaped to hold cedar canoes and other ritual objects.
In earlier days, Oregon Coast activist Sam Boardman recognized the tree as one of several "Indian Ceremonial Trees" trained over time, a common practice of the Coast tribes. One of the many sacred evergreens on the North Coast, the Octopus Tree was specially venerated, probably serving as the gathering site for important Tillamook tribal rites.
Typical of such specially chosen trees, the branches of this spruce were forced downward toward a horizontal position when they were still flexible, finally extending about 16 feet from the base. When allowed to resume vertical growth, each branch reached skyward to more than 100 feet, creating the distinctive shape.
Walk the trail along the Cape Meares peninsula and view the magnificent Three Arch Rocks Wildlife Refuge. Established as a refuge in 1907 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the refuge provides habitat for Sea Lions, Tufted Puffins, and many other species of seabirds. Learn more at www.fws.gov/refuge/three_arch_rocks.