flagging cedar

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by keneumey, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. keneumey

    keneumey Member

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    I noticed yesterday that one of the mature cedars on my property has brown branches all the way to the top. It's not entirely brown, and it appears to be worse on the east side, which happens to be more exposed to the sun than the other.

    I'm in Bellingham, Wash. We recently had extreme temperatures for the area - in the 90s.

    Is this "normal"? None of the other trees on my street seem to be in this condition, and I wonder if it's because the trunk of this tree has been dinged a few times in the past 10 months by construction vehicles and trucks.

    I have attached pictures, including one of the dinged trunk.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Driving over the roots of a tree (and running into its trunk) are a way to kill it. Looks like that may be happening in this case.

    Allow no parking, movement or storage of any vehicle or equipment near the trees to be retained... Soil compaction is the number one killer of trees and can be caused by both machines and man. Foot traffic compacts soil more than some machines


    --Carl E. Whitcomb, Establishment and Maintenance of Landscape Plants (1991, Lacebark Inc., Stillwater)
     
  3. M. D. Vaden

    M. D. Vaden Active Member 10 Years

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    The way the foliage hangs, that tree looks a lot like a Port Orford cedar. Similar looking to western red cedar in some respects.

    If that's the case, they can start dying and browing at almost any age. We just watched the neighbor's turn from green to brown or gold in a matter of 5 or 6 weeks last June. It was about 30 feet tall.

    Do you know the genus and species for certain?
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    It's Thuja plicata (not a cedar Cedrus) - identifiable from the cones in the first photo.

    Soil compaction by the machinery will be more significant as a cause of the dieback, than the actual impacts on the trunk.
     
  5. keneumey

    keneumey Member

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    I appreciate your replies!

    What is the prognosis, then? Is it a goner, or can it be saved?
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    My guess would be that it will probably survive, but never look good again, with lots of dead branches and gaps in the crown. Soil decompaction* would assist some recovery, but not fully. Up to you whether you want to keep a tree that looks like that, or not!

    * do a web search for 'air-spade' or 'terravent' to find local service providers
     
  7. Mellissam

    Mellissam Member

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    I agree with the previous posts about compaction, but it is difficult to tell from the pics how much is natural flagging vs compaction (if any). Given the severity of this summer's heat, I'm thinking this may be due to the weather as cedars in my hood have flagged a lot this year, as compared to previous years. Flagging seems to be more pronounced after a hot, dry summer (and on the sunny side of the tree). From my experience (105 cedars on my property), flagging is usually more random than what you show and it is heavier on the sunny side.
    I think your tree will recover, but I'd certainly stop the trucks from driving near the root ball.
    melli
     
  8. keneumey

    keneumey Member

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    Thanks for your response. This tree seemed to be the first on the block to experience it, but I have since noticed many (if not most) other trees undergoing the same thing, so I feel better, thinking it has more to do with the weather than the nick on the trunk.
     

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