Western Red Cedar approaching the question of tree health- tree looks

As an arborist, I observe non-diseased living trees as healthy when they express a vigorus green canopy. There are exceptons to this rule, but we can’t be certain about the exceptions without data collected over time.

My client is preparing her country property on Whidbey Island for sale and asked for arbor servces to a number of conifers and deciduous trees. In her backyard, a mature cedar: Thuja plicata lost it’s main stem 10-15 years ago in a good blow – a potential eye sore. In time, it responded with epicormic buds producing new branching at the initial wound site and below down to 8′ from the injury – a potential eye sore.

When I came to this tree there were 6 stems functioning as new leaders- a forest of little Christmas trees at 30′ high. Three of the largest leaders were cantilevered 8-10′ from the original main stem. This looked unsightly. It also, could be argued that this bundled growth, cantilevered as it was and creating a different windshear could be unhealthy for tree and homeowner. It should be noted that this species routinely creates this kind of growth in what is known as buttressing, much like the great sequoias of California.

Our objective was twofold: to maintain the health of the tree and limb up damaged branches and cut down the thicket of leaders. The sum result is that we left 3 of the healthest looking leaders for this living organism. I believe this tree, while it has been re-wounded by my saw will produce a more vertical canopy in the coming years. Time will tell.


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