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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