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Redwood Tree Identification: Learn About Redwood Forests
By Jackie Carroll
Redwood trees are the largest trees in North America and the second largest trees in the world. Would you like to know more about these amazing trees? Of course, you would! Click this article for redwood tree information.
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Ask an expert: Help sought for beloved redwood tree
This redwood tree south of Portland is dying at the top.
Winter is here, but gardening questions keep coming in to Ask an Expert, an online question-and-answer tool from Oregon State University’s Extension Service. OSU Extension faculty and Master Gardeners reply to queries within two business days, usually less. To ask a question, simply go to the OSU Extension website and type in a question and the county where you live. Here are some questions asked by other gardeners. What’s yours?
Q: We live 30 minutes south of Portland. Our redwood tree had a dying top then got a new one a few years ago. Now the top is dying again but a larger portion that includes some top branches. The whole tree has shown a significant thinning, too. The tree is about 60 feet tall now. Possibly 30 years old or more. What can we do to help it? Should I clean tree debris from under it? Some moles were under it last year. Last summer I did an occasional extra water. Should we limb-up branches that touch the ground? We love this tree please help. – Clackamas County
A: This is a common problem in our area. To answer your question, I will simply quote a previous answer by our forest health specialist:
"This is a common thing we see with redwood and sequoia. It can be related to a number of factors. There is the possibility it is caused by squirrel damage, i.e. we often see squirrels debarking and girdling tops and branches. If you can see with binoculars, try to see if there is any bark at the base of the dead portions of the crown.
Another possible cause is drought effect on the tops. During our summer droughts, the tops of some trees can be killed due to water stress. If this is a possible cause, we recommend a summer watering in August and sometimes also in September around the tree that saturates the soil with a slow soak. This only needs to be done once a month.
Finally, it is possible there is a canker fungus in the top, but if that is the case, you should also see other branches in the crown showing death, also. In summary, first look to see if the stems have been debarked by squirrels. If not, it is likely a drought stress issue. In that case, it is likely the tree will eventually form a second leader that will take over the height growth. If we have severe drought in summer, it is good to deep water the tree in August and again in September if we don't get rain. I hope this helps. It is not unusual to see this around the valley. I don't think it will spread. "
I looked with binoculars and I don't see debarking. I did water the last two August/September seasons. It has done this before but this time it seems more severe with more branches involved and the whole tree seems to be getting thinner. Any suggestions if it is the canker fungus? Also, should I clear away tree debris from around the bottom of the tree and expose the dirt? There are large branches now touching the ground that used to be suspended in the air. Should I limb up the ones touching the ground?
Answer: To determine if there is any canker fungus, the most common method is to inspect the affected part of the trunk or branches at the point of transition between live and dead/dying tissue. Of course, that may require climbing or pruning very high up on the tree to reach affected parts. For more information about stem canker disease on redwood and giant sequoia, see this publication.
If canker disease is present, pruning and disposing of affected branches is recommended in order to reduce disease inoculum. Pruning lower branches and maintaining more air space between and around trees can be helpful in reducing foliage diseases by increasing air movement. But care must be taken to prune safely and properly to avoid other problems.
Pruning lower branches and removing excess woody debris is often desirable to reduce fuels and fire hazards. But it is good to leave some leaf litter on the forest floor to provide mulch and organic matter and to avoid unnecessary disturbance of the surface soil/root environment. – Glenn Arhens, OSU Extension forestry specialist
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Plan for a summer visit if the interest is in the park ranger programs. Campfire talks, Junior Ranger activities and guided nature hikes, both into the redwoods and along the coastal tidepools, are held between the middle of June and Labor Day. These programs cover park history, culture or ecology.
Ethan Shaw is a writer and naturalist living in Oregon. He has written extensively on outdoor recreation, ecology and earth science for outlets such as Backpacker Magazine, the Bureau of Land Management and Atlas Obscura. Shaw holds a Bachelor of Science in wildlife ecology and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems from the University of Wisconsin.