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Discussion in 'Gymnosperms (incl. Conifers)' started by keithdirt, Jan 24, 2005.
Good points all !
Thank you Michigander, you write eloquently and truthfully.
Thank you, both. I'm pleased, but even more I'm surprised to find cohorts in these here parts. I never thought I would live to see the day when Canadian venues are more tolerant of less than Liberal views than American University sites. It's a real pleasure to find that it's still possible to have a discussion with people who can agree to agree on some things and agree to disagree on others. One of my favorite quotes is from Muhammad Ali, "The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life." It applies to everyone because your views don't just go CA-CHUNK! at 50, we evolve slowly based upon new input. I'm old, so I can look back and see sincere and insincere people promising the same things that were promised by a procession of predecessors over, and over, and over...
I remember when there were more big forest fires in lots of places in the west. They developed the idea of fire roads and strategic logging and cleaning up downed wood and brush in the 30's and it took ~20 odd years to implement everywhere. Lightening strikes are a part of life, and careless campers will always be with us, but the fires don't have to rage over really big areas. The modern methods used by the firefighters are very effective, but size matters. And being able to get equipment to the problem early in the game is crucial. Notice that California is about the only place this is happening? The other 49 states prefer to spend their firefighting dollars in prevention. Forest Rangers are not just guys starring out of watch towers, they manage the forest by grading the dollar value of a given track of forest, take bids from commercial loggers, specify trees or blocks of trees to be removed and where access roads and fire tails are to be installed or cleaned-up, and generally spend the money earned to keep the whole forest in good condition. It seems to me, but I can't document it, California stopped doing these things the first time Jerry Brown "governed" the state. Now the state is back to the starting line and it'll be another 20-odd years before they get back to "managed" forests. If, and only if, they begin today. Not a good bet.
People who want "natural" or "native" forests don't seem to understand that forest fires, ~big ones, are completely "natural". Drought and their consequences are also completely natural. Cholera, typhoid, lice, cancer, earthquakes and a thousand other bad things are completely natural, too. We address all the naturally occurring problems as best we can, knowing that there are always trade-offs. It costs a lot more to build to new earthquake standards, but we change the codes every time someone comes up with a better way to do it because... we learn from history. Or some of us do.
A little off the thread topic, but pertinent to the conversation, here is a 5-minute video on the Amazon rain forest, entitled "The Largest River On Earth Is In The Sky":
There are civilizations that have disappeared.
Nice video! Fortunately the Amazon jungle is too big to screw-up overnight. Although they are working on it. The yellow clay soil will slow down that process as the entrepreneurs who are trying to farm deforested land run into the problems I spoke of earlier: GIGO.
When I spoke of self-correcting man-made problems, I meant things like the fact that the geography of Lost Angeles is responsible for the air not circulating well and can't be changed as easily as people can move on to better digs. Peking is in the same boat with a desert upwind variation. It may have been a good choice when they wanted to build a new Imperial Palace, but it will be easier to abandon the location for a new Center of the Universe than to clean-up the air which waffles between stagnant and dust storm. Big, important cities have evolved out of favor, forever. If you look at any list of The Top Ten Cities of any period in the US, you'll see once important places that now are not even up to also-ran status. Detroit is doing just that, right before our very eyes. After all, the French word Detroit means a river between a rock and a hard place...
Topeka, How about condescending to a crummy also-ran neo-wannabe dwarf Redwood like Dawn? They're going to look about the same in your lifetime, they grow fast, they're bulletproof, available...?
Well, actually, I think I have a “dawn redwood”. I must say I “think” ‘cause I really don’t know.
Here’s what happened. I got excited about metasequoia years ago not long after we bought our property. I sent for two seedlings that were billed as “dawn redwood” by Arbor Day and a couple from another nursery, I can’t remember anymore, Guerney’s perhaps.
Anyhow I planted the four specimens and one died right away from transplant shock. The other two thrived in the north line fence for a while until one got crowded out by two large Douglas firs and I removed it. (Tried to transplant it but it was too big and died anyways.)
What I noticed was that these two different pairs of specimens from the two different nurseries were clearly NOT the same tree. I could see they were different. There wasn’t much of a difference but I could still see there was a difference. I began to suspect that one pair I’d bought had indeed been metasequoia but the other two from the other nursery might’ve actually been bald cypress. The two species look very much alike and could’ve been mixed up at the nursery. I have no idea which ones were which.
I’d planted one in the front yard which quickly grew to about 15 feet. Then we had a hot dry summer with a desiccating wind. The whole top ⅔ of it died back. After a few years it had completely recovered and had grown a new top until the winter of 2014 when the top half froze out. It started to grow back a second time but it looked kinda ugly so my son cut it down.
Since this specimen was somewhat intolerant to drought and cold, I suspect that it could’ve been a bald cypress NOT metasequoia.
The last specimen is still growing in the north fence and has now reached a height of about 20 feet. It is getting rather badly crowded out by a much larger Norway spruce. The spruce has a trunk diameter of about 18”. Who knows? I might remove the spruce. Makes great campfire wood!
Fred M. Cain,
I recently took a trip to Chicago and I *THOUGHT* I related this on this group but maybe not. We went to the museum of Science & Industry and got there about an hour before they opened. So, we went for a ride up Lake Shore Drive (U.S. 41). It was really nice, I'd never been along there before. There was a park between U.S. 41 and all the buildings and skyscrapers in the Windy City and what REALLY blew my mind was that I could've sworn that I saw a giant Sequoia. I have come to recognize how they look - they have a distinct look about them. However, I was on a tour bus and was not able to examine the specimen up close so I could still have been mistaken. Has anyone else seen this? Could anyone possibly check it out? I think it was pretty far north. Well north of the McKormick Place or whatever it's called.
Fred M. Cain
Yeah, choosing between a Norway and a Dawn is pretty easy, the Norway look better when young and droopy with age. I remember many years ago going to a garden walk someplace where they had a Redwood in the backyard that was developing large buttresses that were interesting all by themselves.
There is a cell tower on the other side of town that is decorated like a Redwood. At first glance it really grabs your attention if you're a tree guy. It's ~30' taller than the surrounding trees near a major junction. They did a really good job disguising it. It even has a decidedly tapered "trunk".
I pruned my dawn redwoods upto about ten feet many years ago. Until then they were developing very fluted bases. Now I can hardly notice fluting at all. Also, growth was very rapid during the first decade after transplanting but has slowed down considerably. It is my belief that dawn redwood is not predisposed to achieve great height. The sequoiadendrons , on the other hand seem to be accelerating upwards and easily outgrow everything else I have. The thick buttresses lift my stony soil. Three trees planted in a grove are coning, but the cones are so high on the trees that I only discover the cones after they have fallen. The Hazel Smith S. , planted only a few years later than the species trees is much slower and more compact growing. It is indeed a garden worthy conifer, with glaucus, dense foliage. my species trees are well over 50’ now, and beginning to obstruct my view. Not that I am considering their removal. Probably not even possible now. Though I did remove two larches ( siberica and occidentalis) which were competing with S. the larches made lovely lumber. I have been wondering what the wood from dawn redwood might be like. One Sequoiadendron that I felled had the most saturated wood I have come across. The rough cut timber took a full year to dry and grew a great deal of mould. It was only surface mould and disappeared through the planer. The resulting lumber was very light weight, not strong, but ideal for boxes. I have read that Sequoiadendron is not considered a valuable tree in forestry. Large tree shatter when felled.
Try taking a virtual drive on google street view and see if you can re-find the exact location? I took a quick look and found several Metasequoias (e.g. this group), but no Sequoiadendrons.
Wood from old trees shatters, because it hits the ground with such force. Wood from young plantation-grown trees is more elastic and doesn't shatter; apparently the quality is good enough (combined with the exceptional productivity) that interest in commercial planting is increasing now.
Haven't we established that S. can't live where roots freeze? Or where they don't get enough moisture to keep the whole column wet? I just went back to the beginning of this thread and I'm even more convinced that the places where these S. sempervirens and gigantea grow have winter snowcover, lots and lots, and are tender-root critters. They are confined to places where snow comes early because the winter air is always moist. People, ~everybody~ tend to think of winter conditions in terms of where they live as being warmer/cooler than other areas based upon hottest and average in summer and coldest and average in winter. But those averages and extremes aren't the most important factors. For example, the temperature range extremes along the coast from mid-Oregon to northern BC are probably pretty close to Detroit extremes, but we don't have the snowcover to protect the ground, except for a strip of low land a couple miles wide along the edge of Lake Michigan which is a snowbelt. There are trade-offs along that belt: it can be a nice spring day of ~60°F in Grand Rapids and west to a distinct slope close to the lake where the temps drop to 45°F west of US 31. So, they get hard frosts when everybody else doesn't. Every year is different, but sometimes Detroit doesn't get snow until after Christmas when the ground is certainly frozen. More often than not we don't have snowcover more than 50% of the days from November 1 through March 31. No snowcover means frozen ground. If the ground freezes before snow comes, which is probably +60% of the years, the ground, and roots, are frozen for 90 to 120 days. The coldest temps in north Texas and western Oregon and Washington can be just the same as Detroit, but they come and go a day or two down to ~10 or 15°F so it can be said that this or that cultivar can survive 10 or 15°F which is absolutely nothing like that same temp because the woody tops aren't bothered in either case, but the roots in Detroit are frozen solid. And, a couple days at 10°F verses 3 or 4 months averaging 25 to 35 are not comparable. Root type is very important, too. Fleshy roots are more damage-prone from freezing than are course roots.
Micro climates are even more important. The cold winds that are scattered in subdivisions where daytime sun can warm the soil near buildings, can be brutal on open ground like a farm. So, I don't think S. grows anyplace where the ground freezes. They can be grown in such places until they get too big to protect, or until they get an ugly winter. Metasequoia is a different story. There are lots around Detroit +60', and none of them show any effects from the two back-to-back winters from Hell of ~2013/14 and 2014/15.
I can certainly speak to the productivity! Seqoiadendron has increased its cubic volume faster than any other conifer I am familiar with. Mine were started from seed in 1990, so in 27 years they have become “harvestable”. In our latitude and interior location that would be remarkable. Generally, forestry here operates on a 60-100 year cycle.
Well, I don’t know. Having the ground freeze to a considerable depth sure wouldn’t help matters any. However, I suspect that cambium damage is the real issue which makes it a life or death situation.
One of my first trees lived about 8 years and one winter was especially brutal. The tree was about 8 feet high. There were temps in the range of -20-25° F with high winds. The bottom three feet of the tree was buried under a 3-foot snow drift which prevented the ground from freezing very deep. When spring came and the snow was gone I saw that the needles that were under the snow were lush and green and the branches that had been above the snow drift were dead as a door nail. As the years went by the tree grew a new trunk but then died later in another severe winter with little or no snow.
So, yeah, ground freezing is definitely a factor but the real cause of Sequoia winter mortality in our area is probably a combination of factors.
Fred M. Cain
I am thinking that I saw the metasequoias, too. But actually metasequoia does not look anything like Sequoiadendron. To me, a metasequoia looks an awful lot like a bald cypress and I could for sure confuse it with that tree but probably not a Sequoia. However, although the tree I saw looked an awful lot like a giant Sequoia, it could’ve actually been some other tree like a picea pungens that just happened to have the shape of a Sequoia.
I can try using Google Earth but the specimen was far enough back from the road that I doubt that I could find it that way.
Maybe I’ll just take another trip to Chicago!
Fred M. Cain
Well Topeka, with your pretty thorough observations, I think hereafter we can cite the Topeka Sequoia Study as THE definitive authority on the hardiness, or lack thereof, of the genus Sequoia. May you live on in footnotes until the RHS Nomenclature and Taxonomy Advisory Group changes the name, again. Job well done!
Well, Michigander, I am still experimenting. The big question is whether or not the "Hazel Smith" strain of Sequoiadendron can make it here. The jury is still out on that. Unfortunately, it's gonna be years before I can verify this for sure.
Meanwhile, I found a guy who might send me two "Idaho Endurance" Sequoias in the spring so it'll be interesting to see how those do. They may be even more cold hardy that "Hazel Smith".
Fred M. "Topeka" Cain
Perhaps you could include a sidebar in your study: I'd like to grow one as a bonsai and overwinter it in my greenhouse to see how they do in essentially a USDA ~9. Can you connect me with your source?
Can't remember if it's already been mentioned further up the thread, but there is a 27 metre tall Sequoiadendron at Manistee in Michigan, across the lake from Chicago (and a bit further north) - shows the benefit of lake effect snow and cooler summers too.
Isabella Conservation District Environmental Education Program: Field Trip - Michigan's Largest Giant Sequoia
Thanks, Michael! This is most interesting! I did a search for this and also found another picture of it here:
Isabella Conservation District Environmental Education Program: Field Trip - Michigan's Largest Giant Sequoia
You have to scroll down to about the third picture (of the Sequoia) then if you click on the image it will give you several different views.
I think that what has been commonly called the "Snow belt" tends to mimic conditions in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The cold, bitter harsh winds blowing down out of Canada tend to get moderated and moistened by the lake. Then the heavy lake-effect snowfall tends to protect the roots by preventing a deep frost line just as Michigander told us. I think that this is a most interesting arboretum. They have some other really neat stuff up there, too. I will try and make it up there sometime.
Fred M. Cain
Yes, it shows as a USDA 6b in several spots and strips along that coast. There is a preponderance of sand in the northern lower peninsula, and especially along that coast as exemplified by Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes 50 miles north. I suspect the water table is at least the same as the surface level of the lake. Sand above the water table would be a poor conductor of intense cold and the tap root would be soaked. Detroit averages ~65" of snow per year , and Manistee averages 109".
from my garden this morning.... Abies pinsapo, Sequoiadendron “Hazel Smith” and a grove of three Sequoidendron (species)
You know, Partelow, I rode the VIA train across Canada one time and my sleeping car attendant remarked (after we crossed over the line into B.C.), "welcome to God's country!".
You sure have a nice place to live! No place is perfect, of course, but it's nice there nevertheless. Great pictures, too !
Fred M. Cain,
Well, I last replied to this thread about five-six months ago so it's time for an update. I had planted four (4) Sequoiadendron "Hazel Smith" giganteum last spring and we just came through a thoroughly brutal winter with at least two days of -22°F temps and high winds. I think I might've lost one but I'm not sure yet. I'm not sure if it froze out or, more likely, the high winds may have weakened or broken the graft in spite of my very best efforts to secure it. But although damaged it's not quite completely dead yet so it might just sprout out yet. I'll know next month.
The other three don't look too bad in spite of the brutal weather. On one specimen, the leaves that grew from the root stock (I haven't cut them out yet) are dead but the leaves from the Hazel Smith graft are still a nice blue-green. This is already demonstrating the cold hardiness of the Hazel Smith strain.
Now this spring, I have taken possession of three specimens of the Sequoia "Idaho Endurance" strain so we'll see how these do. Supposedly they have survived even lower temps that what Hazel Smith can tolerate. Two of them have been grafted on regular root stock and a third apparently was a volunteer that germinated from a seed from the mother "Idaho Endurance" tree. I think this is going to be a most interesting experiment. I will continue to provide updates.
Fred M. Cain,