Wind-influenced Plants

While on vacation at the Oregon coast this month I saw many plants that were wind-influenced. I prefer this term to ‘windswept’ as that conjures up a familiar image, one that we think we know, and still a tree shape. ‘Wind-influenced’ feels broader and open to interpretation. A few examples follow.


A shrub formed by wind only yards from the coast. Looks eerily like the sand dunes just over the crest, where there is no grass. The topiary version of a dune.


More woody plants formed by wind. These are about 1/4 mile from the coast.



In the foreground, another shrub shaped not unlike the first one.


This is an arresting example. With a few exceptions in the bottom part, these are all trees. All spruce, actually. The flattened ones look like shrubs, but it’s the same species upslope, in spruce-tree shapes. (A familiar ‘windswept’ tree is highlighted in the dark alcove.) On the right is a close-up plant, showing individual spruce shoots. Downslope is the ocean crashing on the beach, about 300 yards away.

We may not wish our trees to look like sand dunes. I just found it interesting that the natural stylistic arena of wind-influenced trees isn’t simple or one thing.

The takeaways might be:

  • the shapes wind creates don’t always look like recognizable tree forms
  • wind results may homogenize, irrespective of material: plants looking like sand, etc.
  • wind can be highly localized; a few yards away, a different morphology
  • the abstract possibilities of wind suggest a wide canvas.

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  1. Jeffrey Robson says:

    As always an interesting perspective – I like the way you think. Love the moniker wind-influenced.

  2. scorekeeper4u says:


  3. I’d love to see this! Very cool!
    I spent time on Nantucket, back in the 90’s, and once saw an incredible grove of trees that were extremely wind swept all in one direction.They were getting the harsh Atlantic weather from one way. Unfortunately I didn’t have a camera.
    It was late winter so I’m not sure what species they were.- However I never forgot that image.

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