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View Diary: Daily Bucket: Arborvitae--Threat or Menace? (69 comments)

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  •  Trees tend to have numerous roots (22+ / 0-)

    near the surface, in order to quickly catch rainfall, and to gather nutrients from the top layer of soil. Roots usually extend outward as far as the crown. But if the tree discovers a source of water or a yummy compost pile, it will send roots farther out.

    We have a confusing jumble of native, semi-native, nonnative, and hybrid trees with common names like cedar, cypress, and arborvitae. I don't worry much about attempting to ID trees in yards, because they might actually be hybrids of species from, say, Siberia and Germany.

    Scientifically, these trees are in the family Cupressacaeae. Trees in this family have scale-like leaves rather than needles. The five genera represented in the United States are: Libocedrus, Thuja, Cupressus, Chamaecyparis, and Juniperus.

    Trees native to the western states include:
    Libocedrus decurrens (incense cedar)
    Thuja plicata (western redcedar)
    Cupressus arizonica (arizona cypress, found in AZ and NM)
    Chamaecyparis lawsonia (Port-Orford-cedar)
    Chamaecyparis nootkatensis (Alaska-cedar)
    Plus about ten Juniper species

    And we haven't even gotten to the redwoods, sequoias, and the metasequoias from China (all of which are planted in Portland).

    Anyone who can identify all of those species in an urban setting is way ahead of me. In the woods, I go by native range. Where the ranges overlap (western redcedar and Port-Orford-cedar, for instance), then I have to pay close attention to the characteristics that define the various species and genera.

    ***Scientific names were taken from an ancient textbook. Some species might have been reclassified since the book was written.

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