Portlandia Counts Its Apple Trees

Portlandia fans will be tickled and Portlanders unsurprised to learn the Oregon city has performed a census of its apple trees. Just about every one of the fruit trees across Portland’s 145 square miles had its location, condition, and size notated in data that is downloadable by neighborhood from the city’s website. Since BatchGeo is a Portland company and we have a fun and easy mapping tool, we thought it was a perfect example to show off the over 1,000 apple trees that call Portland home.

View Apple Trees of Portland in a full screen map

At first you may notice that it appears there are areas of the city without any apple trees. That may be accurate for, say, downtown Portland. Already a five year project with more than 800 volunteers, the city hasn’t made it to every neighborhood yet. Still, with over 60% of the city enumerated, we can learn plenty about the apple trees.

For example, almost half of the trees are considered in good condition, while only 10% are in poor health. However, there doesn’t appear to be a particular area of the city that is bad for apple trees. The biggest is adjacent to Sewallcrest Park in Southeast Portland. At 38 inches diameter (measured at breast height), it’s a sizable apple tree, and an outlier in the neighborhood. There a place where the trees are bigger or smaller. All of Portland loves its apple trees.

In fact, Portland loves all its trees. The city even set the Guiness World Record in 2013 with almost 1,000 tree huggers, some of whom are shown in the video below.

And it turns out, the city doesn’t just count its apple trees. It counts all of its street trees. Over 100,000 of them, all with downloadable spreadsheets waiting to be uploaded to BatchGeo for visualization.

While Portland is ahead of many cities in open government data, you very likely can find some for your own city or country. In the United States there’s even a clearinghouse of these civic datasets called Data.gov. If you’re stuck on tree data, there’s currently 942 datasets matching that search term.

Open data can also be found all over Wikipedia. Rather than the Excel files common with government data, the worldwide encyclopedia often uses web-based tables that are easily copy and paste-able into your own spreadsheets–or directly to BatchGeo.

We show an example of copying, cleaning, and mapping Wikipedia data in our tutorial, How to Map Open Data.