Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Incense Cedar [ Calocedrus decurrens ]

 A Landscape Tree for Southern California Cities
Not much to say of course about this tree other than it should be very familiar to most folks in Southern California. Although most likely most folks would never consider it a hot interior valley landscaping choice. I just thought I would take some shots of this and some other around my Mum's neighbourhood to illustrate just how successful these trees can be in the landscape. 

This tree is located on the next street over from my Mum's house in El Cajon CA. It is right on Rattlesnake Mountain itself at the very top of that street. It is exactly 74 years old. It has always done rather well and has always been easily maintained. The view here of the tree is facing east towards the street.


This view is looking the Curb Appeal view which faces west. Many years ago back in the 1980s, my friend's mum was worried that the interior of the tree was dying as there were several small dead branches and twigs within it's interior. But this is common even in the mountain forests of So-Cal and the rest of the western  coast where it is native. It simply self-prunes itself.

Even as a kid I always loved the multi-trunk twisted interior of this tree. It gives and interesting view  of what one generally finds in a forested mountain environment where trees grow straight and tall and look almost like the California Redwoods. The difference in shape and form are related to what I wrote about some time back about "Phenotypic Plasticity"  where lifeforms will respond differently to various environmental cues.

This is the view from the above property looking south towards El Cajon from Rattlesnake Mountain. The pyramid shaped small hill with the straw coloured invasive non-native grasses is the same hill I wrote about in my blank canvas landscape challenge to all Eco-Activists to bring back ruined landscapes as well as saving what's been damaged by human idiocy & ignorance.

Note to All Eco-Activists: Why not challenge yourself to restore the Land that was Lost ?

photo: Mine
This photo here is from the street to the east of my Mum's place, actually a couple blocks over. I did stop and knock on their door to ask permission for the shot. But it shows the lushness of both of these trees which show no signs of struggling in this very often hot interior climate. 

This is a length angle view of both these trees along the property line between the two house. They are absolutely beautiful and such trees could actually be incorporated within an already existing woodland landscape which would allow the tree to put it's growth energy into reaching for the sky as opposed to filling out with lower branches. This would give the interior appearance of a Redwood type of forest setting which would be a cool hideaway for a hot interior backyard. I'm still amazed however of how well these trees do at a lower elevations where normally hot dry temperature and climate are a hindrance as opposed to facilitator of forest success. Other natures trees from the same mountains do not do so well in such locations like El Cajon California. They do very well in Hemet and Riverside to the north and these areas are smoggier and hotter. 

Credit: Vladimir Steblina

Incense Cedar Coarsegold , California
Notice the clean giant redwood furrow barked truck which resembles Giant Sequoia ? In a landscape setting you could incorporate low growing Manzanita to mimic the plants in the foreground in this photo. Always be  observant and creative when planning your landscape from things observed in the wild. Keep in mind that any  maintenance you may have to do is merely mimicking what the Natural world does through animals, birds, weather/climate etc.

Google Maps
At least in Southern California, if you want to view Incense Cedar in a beautiful Pristine setting, there is a campground in the San Jacinto mountains north of Idyllwild California off Hwy 243 called Dark Canyon. There are several wonderful Incense Cedar groves there along the North Fork of the San Jacinto River which look like a miniature Redwood Grove. Most of the biggest trees are along the River bottom. although this website, http://www.campsitephotos.com/campground/Dark-Canyon/photos/Dark-Canyon-001  does show what the campground itself looks like. There are a combination of Incense Cedar and Ponderosa Pines in this campground. Such areas are going to become more and more rare if you don't visit them soon. In San Diego Co, the 2003 Cedar Fire destroyed most of the old growth forest rich in Incense Cedar. Still, it is a remarkable survivor in the harsher hotter landscape of the interior valleys below it's range. Mycorrhizal inoculation would be a great insurance, but the trees I've referenced here above were given no such treatments.

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