Can't resist. :-)
Lived on the west coast for quite a while. Traveled the Island forests
and coastal waterway areas quite a bit. Been through the gulf Islands --
just logged off rocks now -- and traveled through Desolation Sound and
the interior of BC (and Alberta) quite extensively... Spent a fair bit
of time walking "old growth" forests.
My old partner was a professional forester. Got him out to look at the
"huge cedars" in my front yard - in a small burb just outside Vancouver.
Had to hold him up - - he was laughing so hard about "saplings". They
were only 30" across and about 90 feet high. Every time he came over
after that he started giggling and smirking when he saw the trees. This
was when I had just moved out there... :-)
He used to harvest old growth on Vancouver Island and the coast. He said
most of the trees were 20 to 40 feet across near the base when he
started cutting. Most of the cedar trees were about a millenia and older
when he started in the trade. He pushed hard for conservation and a
slower cut rate - everyone told him the forest would go on forever and
thought him a raving lunatic. They had a "log the next hillside"
mentality and could not imagine the end of the forestry trade. Now we
have mostly second and third generation forests on the West coast. Most
if us have never seen a forest of large trees. We see museums like
Cathedral Grove and think it's a big forest... But the trees out there
can be 2000 to 3000 years old - just darn few now.
You can still see some Big Old trees in Cathedral Grove near Nanaimo BC.
Kind of a religious experience if you ask me. Never measured those trees
myself, but I could have parked an 18' canoe or my car inside the trunk
of one and had room to lay the sleeping bag...
George E. Cawthon wrote:
Are you saying that your trees are about 36 times as tall as they are wide?
If these trees were proportionally as tall to width as your trees some would
be over a quarter of a mile high. Those are some trees..
I would love to see those monsters I have always been amazed at their size.
Not my trees no more. But... Western Red Cedars are big trees. These are
(were) the dimensions measure on the front yard trees. Almost 3 feet
across and about 90 feet high. The root systems spread wayyy out. Many
times the width of the trunk. I know the root system had a diameter of
at least 30 feet on those trees - because I dug into it a couple of
times. (Did a calculation of 80 ft on the height when we bought the
house.) He was quite insistent they were babies - said he could core
them and give me an age - but at east 40 years and maybe as high as 80
years old. Said he didn't cut under-age trees due to high moral
Don't think so. It ain't proportional -- If that were true we would not
have a problem with over harvesting. I forget the maximum heights on the
Big Red Western Cedars - but 200 to 300 foot high isn't (ok wasn't
unusual alright?) that unusual -- as I recall -- on old growth Western
Red. we are talking about trees in the range of 800 years to over 2000
years old! eh? Most of the energy goes into the log I think.
Americans used to have the big western reds and cypress on the US west
coast - but engineers just developed ever bigger chainsaws. Bless their
Used to take my hat off whenever I saw a barge load or a boom of the old
growth go by. Like to pay my respects before I cut it up.
You should be able to find pictures of trees from Stanley Park and
Cathedral Grove on the Internet.
Some of the foresters I worked with told me that at wholesale they could
often price the logs at $20K to $40K (per log that is) -- this is clear
cedar and cypress - so it's expensive -- and increasingly rare.
But I am sure there are West-coasters on the forum who can give more
current information. :-)
Sounds about right. There is (or was) a stand of white pines in New
Hampshire called the B-something (bradford?) pines. Planted around
the time of the American Revolution I saw them when they were about
200 years old, they were approaching 200 feet tall and were about three
or four feet in diameter at shoulder height.
They won't be. But I agree that would look way cool. To support
the weight of the tree the cross-section of the trunk has to
grow proportionate to the weight supported above that section,
which is proprotionate to the volume of wood above. Thus trees
become more squat in form as they grow tall and branch out in
Also the maximum height of any given species is limited by ambient
air presssure and humidity. But there is no physical limit on the
girth of a tree. 'Mature' trees have reached their maximum height
but continue to grow in girth. That's why I put 'mature' in quotes,
a tree grows continuously until it dies. Indeed, trees are solar
poswered, the more leaf/needle area a tree has the faster it grows.
The giant Sequoias are among the world's fastest growing organisms,
though the change from one year to the next is hardly noticeable
since the trees are already so big that a few more tons of wood
doesn't change the appearance much.
Also, at the risk of starting a flame-war I take exception to the
use of the term 'harvest' in reference to cutting old-growth.
'Harvest' is appropriate only in regards to what one has planted.
E.g. You reap what you have sown.
Point taken - careless use of the language. "Forest-Raping" is more
appropriate. Most people in the business used to say that quietly when
the tree-huggers weren't about -- they all knew it was the truth. One
time a _very_ highly placed executive answered the phone when I was in
his office -- what I heard was: "G. here - we rape the forest". My jaw
dropped! He just looked up when he hung up and said: "Caller ID - don't
worry. H. was still laughing when he hung up. Besides - it's true
right?" And we carried on business...
(Names withheld to protect the forest rapers. :-) )
No he is not. Cedars have a very tapered stem. As it grow
taller it also grows much wider. Cedars don't get much
above 200 feet, so a 20' diameter would be a 1/10 ratio.
Chances are you will never see a Western Red Cedar with a
20' diameter as a 10' diameter is considered large. I
believe one the largest was 62' in diameter (on Vancouver
Island) but trees of that diameter were never common and
anything over 15' is often/usually hollow at the base.
It was probably 3 to 4 feet at the base. As I recall I measured it at
about eye height - around 6 foot. It was a sapling - remember? Who pays
attention to these little details on a sapling? :-)
On the really big cedars the base goes up considerably higher.
I think you are taking offense unnecessarily. My favorite
climbing tree was about 100 feet in front of our house and I
watched it grow. It was never bigger than 30 inches across
and it rose to about 100 feet; by triangulation we figured
it would just touch the house if it fell. The cedar 20 feet
from the back of the house was over 3 feet by the time we
sold the place. I don't know the height but it wasn't much
above 100 feet.
BTW, your tree was a sapling only for old timers. There are
lots of pictures of logging around Seattle and a 3' diameter
tree would be a sapling to them. Today, a 3' tree is
considered merchantable. The loggers certainly had no
hesitation in cutting 18" cedars on our place and they were
one of the more valuable trees; white pine was worth more.
If you mean me, If I seemed to take offense I apologize. I really enjoy
reading the exchanges here - but I usually just get a few minutes
between tasks for posts. Maybe a bit brusque sometimes I guess. :-)
One of the reasons the ratios get out of whack with "citified" wild
trees is that they get fertilized and watered -- along with the lawn.
They sprout up a lot quicker than they would in the wild.
The other issue with the calculations is that the results always form a
"distribution". Quite frankly I do not know the variation expected in
"citified" or wild trees. Not sure about the tree in front of our old
house - maybe it was "normal" -- maybe it was extra-normal. No idea. But
thinking about it, they were typical of the neighborhood cedars.
Citified cedar and Douglas fir have branches lower on the trunk, and
they are higher than "normal" --- and from what I saw they are usually
taller than their wild cousins at an earlier age, and have a wider
branch spread. In other words they make a great "storm sail" -- catch a
lot of wind..
Our tree would have fallen on the bedroom in a good storm. Had more than
a few sleepless nights. :-) Should have cut it when we moved in. A year
before we moved cutting these trees became illegal in our burb.
Your understanding matches mine -- as I read it below.
George E. Cawthon wrote:
Not according to the forester - he said it would usually be left -- not
big enough yet. Should be 4 foot across by now though - so probably it
is actually sawdust by now. It was only a foot or so from the house
eaves when we sold out. One good windstorm and the new owners would have
lots of firewood -- the splintered timbers from the house, along with
These trees (western reds and Douglas firs) are dangerous in the cities
and burbs. They seem to need to grow in clumps so they form a mutual
windbreak. ...Otherwise they topple over in a big wind. Several times a
year the Vancouver Sun (Vancouver BC) ran photos of the latest smashed
down house with a tree trunk projecting from a roof or a living room
Of course Vancouver city council passed laws preventing anyone from
cutting down the large trees. You could _apply_ for a cutting permit -
but they were routinely rejected. --Lot of tree huggers run for council
out there. I'm surprised they didn't pass a law against harboring logs
in your living room walls. :-)) I wonder why they call it the Left
Coast? Or was it Lotus Land?
There are lots of
They are still logging old growth on the west coast. But yes a 3 foot
diameter tree would get logged these days. sigh!
Don't know about "citified" trees. All of the experience I
cited was with natural forest. I grew up in a forest with a
few areas cut out for alfalfa or grain fields and houses. I
think only 3-4 acres were cleared out of 130 acres on our
land. Maybe the law against cutting big trees was to
protect against idiots falling trees on houses? Or maybe
the law makers were just idiots?
You are right, most conifers don't do well against wind
unless in a group and shouldn't be in an urban setting.
Even in dense forests, however, a freak downdraft wind can
flatten stretches of mixed fir or fir/spruce forests.
Actually cedars are more resistant because they develop a
relatively wide base of support roots in contrast to a
single tap root of most conifers.
When I was at Oregon State, about 1964, we had a big storm with
hurricane-force winds. At OSU, there were trees of all kinds growing on the
quad, including big old conifers (various kinds). Most of the trees were
somewhat isolated(not in clumps) so they formed big, full canopies. Over
100 trees were blown down on the quad alone, as well as others all over
Corvallis. Almost all the trees that went down were hardwoods; the conifers
could bend and survived. FWIW.
These trees have an ecology that affects when the limbs get dropped. It
depends on how much light they get, to support photosynthesis, balanced by
how much water they lose through transpiration. When they get shaded, as in
a clump, it becomes a liability for the tree to maintain the lower branches,
so they die and fall off. Isolated trees get more light, so they can keep
those lower branches.
I'm not disputing your calculation; I'm just saying the
ratio changes with the height and age. I'm not sure what a
very young cedar ratio is but likely more than 1:36 and
probably as much as 1:72 for a 5-6 year old plant, e.g., 1
inch diameter and 6 feet tall. He also indicated that old
growth had very large trunks and the largest probably have a
ratio of only 1:4 or 1:5, e.g., 40-60 foot diameter but a
height of 200 feet. Other trees such as redwoods and
Douglas fir have a much higher ratio of trunk diameter to
height since they tend to be less tapered.
Well normally I would not say that was possible but I had a Chinese Tallow
removed and asked the guy taking it down to cut it into pieces 18 to 20
inches long and put them in my fire wood rack. He asked if I was going to
burn it and indicated that it did not burn well in a fire place. I told him
that I wanted to turn the wood. Well 8 months later winter is here and I
burned it. I was pleasantly surprised that 8 to 10 inch diameter non split
logs were dried enough to burn and would burn for about 2 hours each and put
out quite a bit of heat. This tree is a very fast grower.
I know nothing about Chinese Tallow, but what you found is
that talking about wood and wood stoves is about the same as
the arguments you get when talking about Ford, Chevy, GMC,
and Dodge. Much of what people tell you is highly biased
and may be based on one rather exceptional experience.
The only thing that is important is that the wood be dry and
some take a long time to dry.
I was sorta under the impression that the wood would not be very good for
burning also. This tree is consider a nuisance. It is pretty in the fall
as it's leaves turn brilliant colors. This tree came up naturally and was
30" across at the base, about 35 feet tall and was about 10 years old.
Not really. Dry poplar is still lousy firewood. It burns too fast to be
satisfactory in most situations. Most lighter weight, faster growing hardwoods
are like that. Softwoods...well, I don't know of any that make a satisfactory
firewood, at least none that grow in the U.S. south, or as far north as upstate
NY. Pines are too resinous, creating chimney creosote problems even when dry.
And, like poplar, they burn too fast.
At the other end, sycamore is difficult to dry in log form, but also burns too
The old faithfuls are around for a reason: they burn readily when dry, they
produce little (comparatively) ash, and they burn at a reasonable speed,
allowing a fire to be banked for the night, or for one load of wood during a
cold day to provide heat for four to six hours.
Most of the oaks work very well, as do hickory and pecan, beech, birch, black
gum, sweet gum (cross grain), elm (if you like splitting crossgrained woods),
locust, the ashes, maple (preferably hard), Kentucky coffee tree, hackberry,
persimmon, sassafras and walnut and cherry (trimmings only, please).
My experience is only a bit biased. I heated entirely with wood for nearly 20,
from south Central Virginia to upstate NY and back and I wrote two books on the
subject back then. I didn't try everything, of course, because 20+ years ago,
there were western woods--mesquite for one--that hadn't made it east in large
enough quantities to have scraps of burning size. But I've burned those listed
above, and I can't think of a one of them that offers fast growing and good
burning. Pin oak comes closest, but, as someone else noted, it is not great
firewood. I've found it satisfactory, but I find others much better.
"I think we agree, the past is over." George W. Bush
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