Friday, April 24, 2009

Sudden Death of Cedar/Juniper Trees

Our office has received quite a few call on the death of Ashe Juniper or Eastern Red Cedar trees across the county, many of which are on deeper soil east of IH 35. In landscapes these trees often die from excessive water, usually associated with flower beds being constructed around them. But out in the "wild" these trees are quite tough and are generally able to withstand poor soil and climate conditions in our area. So when folks notice a sporadic, sudden death of these trees out in nature it causes alarm.

The following comments by Jim Rooni of the Texas Forest Service provide an excellent perspective on why this is happening and what might be done to alleviate such problems in the future:

"The droughty soils of eastern Travis county are notorious for plant mortality during these extend dry periods. Over the years, our staff have documented moderate to severe impacts on native tree communities, namely Post oak and Eastern Red Cedar (juniper/Cedar) in this region.

What can be done? Well, unless these trees are part of a maintained landscape they may benefit from some form of mulching and/or supplemental water, but not too much.

Clients in these areas must understand that this is a natural, cyclic, event that determines the long term plant ecology of a region. Some will say the 'survival of the fittest' concept will eventually dictate the future tree/plant composition for any respective region, including our area of eastern Travis county. Any/all revegetation efforts should seriously consider drought tolerant plant species – native to this region."


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  2. I just spent last weekend clearing dozens of dead or dying post oaks on my property in southern Bastrop County. Most were threatening fence line or building structures with falling limbs. The trees are from only about 2’ dbh to over 10” dbh. There are many more on my acreage. Some cedars were impacted as well. I contacted the Forest service in La Grange and they confirmed that 2008/2009 drought is to blame. They suggested a couple of 5 gal. buckets with holes in the bottom around high value trees could help. Fill them every couple of weeks.

  3. "Some will say the 'survival of the fittest' concept will eventually dictate the future tree/plant composition for any respective region"

    I have to say this is true. Sure if you can do something about the trees on your property, that's fine. However, we can't help all the trees in the "wild"

  4. Quoting the above comment,

    "However, we can't help all the trees in the wild"

    I agree with what you have just said but that doesn't mean we should not try our very best to save as many of the trees as we can.

  5. we didn't have a drought in washington state and all the cedar trees in the country and cities are turning brown and many of them look dead.

  6. I live on five acres right in between Elgin and Bastrop, in Bastrop County, TX. There isn't a single cedar tree that isn't either dead or dying on my property. I started noticing this around November, with a few trees nearer my house. By January it was obvious that all my cedars were dying.

    You would think that the oaks would be the trees suffering from the 2011 drought, but they have dense, full foliage and look great. Maybe I shouldn't complain. Getting rid of all the cedars will certainly help with the oaks receiving their fair share of water, but I'm wondering if this isn't some kind of infestation that will, if left unchecked, mutate and harm other species of trees.

    1. I live on the other side of Bastrop County and am seeing the same thing, We have had lots of rain this year so why are the cedars dying now, some were green just weeks ago now they are brow and dyeing. Also I can show you the same problem with groves of pine trees in the area that were green a month ago now they are dyeing also !!! I think something is wrong !!

  7. I live in Cedar Valley Texas, between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs. I live on 12 acres for about 35 years. I have seen a lot of long green periods/seasons where a few cedars will die suddenly, and they are surrounded by very healthy cedars. Something else besides our drought is killing the cedars.

  8. Look towards the drilling in your area & the use of the reservoir.

  9. I agree, it's not drought... sorry for bumping an old thread but thought I'd add this; I live in North San Antonio, right on the Southern edge of the Cedar Elm/Juniper range in an older, established residential area. Both mine and my neighbors back yards have had a thick row of Cedar (Juniper) growing since before I can remember, 40-years I know of, until this past fall when all but a few died suddenly. I've seen the same thing happen to several other stands of Cedar in this area over the past few years. God knows what killed them, but water or lack thereof had nothing to do with it.

  10. I have heard it is beetles killing the Eastern Red Cedar. Can anyone confirm this? Like Hypoxalin killing the Post Oak, could it be a normally non aggressive animal that are opportunistically killing trees weakened by drought?

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