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.
The Octopus Tree may be more than 250 years old. Once featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the tree has been described as one of the modern Wonders of the World. Over the years, this curious spruce has also borne the name Monstrosity Tree and Candelabra Tree, for obvious reasons. But it is persistently called the Council Tree, a place of reverence where elders once made decisions and where shamans performed ceremonies. Today the Octopus Tree is not only a historic site, but also a botanical wonder, the kind of tree that prompts tourists to make a sightseeing detour.
Text taken from the "Oregon Heritage Tree Spring 2009 Newsletter.
The Octopus Tree is located just several hundred feet south of the parking lot.