Identification: Mystery conifer saplings growing wild Sunshine Coast are

Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by arborist, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. arborist

    arborist Member

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    So I have ran into these trees a number of times now in 3 locations growing understory to regen forest about 70 years old. Never very large (20cm dbh and 5m tall at most) and have never found any cones. I would think its Cupressus but what species and if the foliage is mature I've no idea. The other part of the puzzle is what they're doing out there? Tree planting experiment failed?
     

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  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Certainly a cypress of some sort.

    Where is it (i.e., which of several Sunshine Coasts around the world)?
     
  3. arborist

    arborist Member

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    Near Gibsons BC, just north of Vancouver. I'll look tomorrow to see if I can spot some cones.
     
  4. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks! With that location, most likely Nootka Cypress Cupressus nootkatensis (formerly Chamaecyparis nootkatensis). The leaves are more 'spreading' than normal for this species, but that's probably just due to the understory shade they're in.

    The cones are globose, around 10-15 mm diameter, with 4 scales, so not very conspicuous.
     

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  5. arborist

    arborist Member

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    Interesting point about the foliage being more spreading because the trees are understory but I'm confident these are not Nootka Cypress (the rare case where the common name is the more definitive.) The foliage does not droop and is somewhat prickly, the aroma of crushed twigs is different and the appearance of the wood and aroma of it is different also. Habit is different also. I've come across many sapling Nootka Cypress before outlying their typical habitat and they're always easily identifiable. These remind me of Leyland Cypress. Could it be that these are a hybrid of Thuja plicata and Cupressus nootkatensis? Many of the characteristics are intermediate between the two species. Have to come up with another genera.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Shoot habit and pointed scales do not rule against the Nootka cypress, in fact its foliage being harsh to the touch is one of its hallmarks. With conifers in general heavily shaded young examples in forest environments do not have the habit and foliage of their older relations that have found a place in the sun. What would be a counter-indication to the cypress in this instance would be if the little guys do not have the characteristic odor. But if this is a colony of seedlings all near one another the more easily recognized parent tree(s) will be present nearby, at a distance no farther than the seeds were able to travel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  7. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Leyland Cypress is not completely impossible, provided there are some Monterey Cypresses planted nearby; this hybrid has arisen on over 20 separate occasions in Britain (interestingly, always by open pollination; deliberate attempts to repeat it have not succeeded yet). But the foliage in these pics has more spreading leaves than I can recollect ever seeing in Leylands.
     
  8. arborist

    arborist Member

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    I've found dozens of these trees spread over kilometers of forest in this one valley. It's an isolated spot that was logged off about 75 years ago and is now forested mostly with Western Hemlock, Pacific Silver Fir and Western Redcedar. The largest of these unknown conifers I've seen is maybe 10m tall and 25cm DBH. The aroma of crushed foliage is markedly different than that of Nootka Cypress. The bark is more plated than stripped as is usually seen on Nootka Cypress.
     
  9. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    We should be looking at pictures of the biggest ones, especially if those have cones.
     

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