Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

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DougBidlack
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Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Nov 22, 2015 10:54 pm

NTS,

back in late March of 2013 I noticed some unusually tall eastern red-cedars for Michigan while exploring Hudson Mills Metropark which is only about a half hour drive from where I grew up. All the pictures that I am posting today were actually taken in early June of 2015 when I went to measure a second time. This first picture shows some red-cedars growing between the trail and the Huron River and it was my first clue that there were some nice red-cedars here.
Redcedar00.jpg
In the opposite direction I spotted this unusually tall red-cedar that I measured to 5.04' x 73.4' (height measured with Nikon 440 using sine method).
Redcedar1.jpg
This tree was easily the tallest eastern red-cedar that I had ever seen and I didn't expect to see any taller ones anytime soon. Luckily, I would be very happily surprised. At this point I feel like I should say something about the conditions here versus where I normally see eastern red-cedar. I usually see this species in southeastern Michigan growing on the tops of hills where the soil is full of sand and gravel. Sometimes they will be on more level ground if the soil is particularly well-drained or if the area is what remains of a previous gravel pit operation and gravel pits are very common in this region. The red-cedars don't usually get too tall before being eventually overtaken by black cherries, American elms and maybe black and Hill's oaks among others. This particular site in Hudson Mills Metropark, however, was quite different in that it was right along the Huron River. I imagine the water table is quite high here and the soil is probably sand deposited by the river (at least on top). There are tree species which like growing in moist (even wet) sites happily growing next to species that usually grow on dry sites. In the picture above, the eastern red-cedar was growing among several bitternut hickories as well as some oaks (I think mostly bur but I can't remember). Just a few feet in the upstream direction (North) there is a slightly lower area right next to the river that is dominated by silver maples. Farther upstream and a bit away from the river the forest is dominated by black oaks and black cherries. I don't know why the eastern red=cedars have been able to persist for as long as they have at this site without being overtopped by more competitive species. No doubt people helped by keeping some areas more open, but even in the forest along the river they have been able to get by pretty well. Maybe the extra light coming in from the river corridor is enough. Anyway, while walking along the trail going upstream with Ellen I noticed another tall eastern red-cedar growing in the woods. I measured it to 5.51' x 74.4'. So, a full foot taller than the previous tree. I was a happy human! Below is a crummy picture of this tree growing among the black oaks and black cherries.
Redcedar4.jpg
As we walked along we came upon a tree that I first thought was a black oak but luckily I checked the acorns on the ground and it turned out to be a Hill's oak which I measured to 11.70' x 90'. The height was from shooting straight up and it ties the tallest I've measured to date in Michigan. Below is a picture.
Redcedar2.jpg
Still farther along we came upon two swamp white oaks worth measuring. They measured 12.03' x 108' and 11.51' x 109.5'. The heights of these trees were also determined by shooting straight up. In the picture below the thicker, shorter tree is to the right and in the foreground.
Redcedar3.jpg
After these measurements we started to head back to the car and I was looking for tall eastern red-cedars in the woods as we walked by the area with the second red-cedar. I noticed some trees in the distance that looked very promising but it was getting late and my wife wanted to head out...ugh! Of course I never forgot about this site.

In June of this year (2015) when I took all these pictures I also went back to measure any more tall red-cedars in the woods. Jackpot! I saw several more red-cedars that I estimated to be over 70' tall but I didn't measure any of them because I found a tree that was clearly the tallest of them all. It was growing within 10' of the river and I measured it to 6.37' @ 2.5' (6.61' @ 4.5') x 84.9'. Wow! This was over 10' taller than my previous best height from this site making this tree head and shoulders above any eastern red-cedar I have ever seen in Michigan! Here is a picture of this wonderful tree.
Redcedar5.jpg
Although you can't see the Huron River in this picture it is right behind the tree.

Trees measured:

Eastern Red-cedars
5.04' x 73.4'
5.51' x 74.4'
6.37' @ 2.5' x 84.9'

Hill's Oak
11.70' x 90'

Swamp White Oaks
12.03' x 108'
11.51' x 109.5'

Doug

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dbhguru
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by dbhguru » Mon Nov 23, 2015 8:52 am

Doug,

Congratulations on the confirmations. I had no idea eastern red cedar could reach such heights. It is food for thought. Elsewhere, what have you seen for the species?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Rand
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by Rand » Mon Nov 23, 2015 11:00 am

Bob,

The tallest I've seen in Ohio was on a low bluff above Big Darby Creek in an old cemetary: 5' 9.5" x 72' tall.

http://ents-bbs-org.nativetreesociety.o ... 32f#p33229

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DougBidlack
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by DougBidlack » Tue Nov 24, 2015 9:07 am

Bob,

I've never actually measured the species anywhere else but my sense was that any tree in the 50's was relatively tall and I figured the tallest in Michigan would at least be in the 60's and, if I was lucky, in the 70's. I never thought the species could reach the 80's in Michigan.

As I've already mentioned, I especially associate the species with hilltops. There was one hill in Kensington Metropark within easy walking distance of where I grew up that we always referred to as Cedar Point. As Rand no doubt could guess, we named this after the amusement park in northwestern Ohio that sticks out into Lake Erie. I imagine eastern red-cedars also grow very well along points of land as well as hilltops as they appear to be very flood tolerant. They are also incredibly salt tolerant as they grow in great numbers along the Atlantic Coast near where I live here in Massachusetts. In all of these situations, however, they generally don't get very tall. Rand points out an old cemetary where he measured a tall one and I've seen several cemetaries where this species reaches good heights. They also seem to grow really well along certain riverbanks. The Michigan state champion happens to grow along the Grand River in Portland State Game Area and then there are the ones that I've just measured along the Huron River. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but these two rivers also happen to have the greatest number of known Kentucky coffeetree populations in the state. One of these coffeetree populations just happens to be in the Portland State Game Area and another in Hudson Mills Metropark. I'll hopefully eventually make a post on Kentucky coffeetrees in Michigan as well.

Doug

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bbeduhn
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by bbeduhn » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:34 am

An 80 footer is a rarity anywhere. I would never expect to find one in Michigan either.

At Cedar Point, except for the big cottonwoods, mostly just steel trees grow, easily topping the coast redwoods in one instance. I'm on a roll, coasting along.

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by Jess Riddle » Fri Nov 27, 2015 9:57 pm

Doug,

I enjoyed reading your post, as always. I'd be pleased with an 80' redcedar anywhere in its range. That it's so far north just makes it more impressive.

Redcedar is a native invasive in the floodplain of the Missouri River. Flooding used to keep the species out, but with a series of reservoirs controlling flow, the species has become abundant in the Dakotas.

Jess

DwainSchroeder
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by DwainSchroeder » Fri Nov 27, 2015 11:15 pm

I've always liked red cedars but while my field guide shows the native range extending here into west central Ohio I'm not aware that there are any stands or even single specimens that are growing here naturally. Maybe some of you know differently.

There are a few individual red cedars scattered around the region planted as ornamentals, but even these are rare. Most local nurseries just don't carry them. There are a lot of white cedar (Arborvitae) which are used as windbreaks, and for evergreen trees people here usually plant pines, spruce, and fir. When I see a red cedar I always wonder how it came to be planted here. I figure that whoever planted it must have an attraction for the unusual, which I can relate to.

I know of a few old looking cedars located in cemeteries in the area. One explanation I've heard for this is that they are planted in cemeteries because they have a "solemn" look to them, and being an evergreen they show continuing life.

Dwain Schroeder

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Rand
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by Rand » Sat Nov 28, 2015 12:55 am

DwainSchroeder wrote:I've always liked red cedars but while my field guide shows the native range extending here into west central Ohio I'm not aware that there are any stands or even single specimens that are growing here naturally. Maybe some of you know differently.

Dwain Schroeder
I got the idea from reading the interpretive signs the red cedar did grow naturally along the the steeper sections of the bluffs along Big Darby Creek. At any rate they are spreading naturally in the old gravel quarry in Prairie Oaks Metropark, and along the watershed reserves along Hellbranch Run just to the west of Columbus (though these do seem to be spreading from red cedars planted in an adjoining cemetary. You'll also commonly see them along the overpass embankments along I-75.

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DougBidlack
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Re: Michigan Eastern Red-cedar

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:57 pm

NTS,

while back in Michigan for Christmas and New Years I had the chance to get out one day and remeasure the height of the tallest known redcedar in the state. I wanted to remeasure it because I now had my TruPulse 200X with me and I wanted to see the difference between my earlier measurement with the Nikon 440 and clinometer. I also wanted a rock solid height measurement of this nice tree. Here is another, rather poor, shot of this redcedar on the 30th of December.
Red Cedar 1.jpg
With the TruPulse 200X the height came out to 85' 5" or about 6" taller than my previous measurement. I almost was satisfied with a height of 85' 2" but I checked another sprig that was off to the right and looked slightly shorter. It was actually 3" taller and I remember when I checked it via laser + clinometer in June 2015 that both sprigs lined up perfectly with the clinometer and the laser gave me the same distance for both sprigs.

While walking out I decided to check two other tall redcedars. The first measured 4.56' x 81' 4". So, a second eastern redcedar over 80'! Here is a picture of it at the edge of a wetland.
Red Cedar 2.jpg
The third tree measured 5.03' x 76' 7". It is in the center of the picture below.
Red Cedar 3.jpg
Doug

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