Redwoods in Stout Grove

Tallest Port Orford Cedar

81.08 meters | 266 ft.

Tallest Chamaecyparis lawsoniana discovery 2009. Jedediah Smith Redwoods.



Continued from: Main Coast Redwood Page

 

Copyright 2009 - 2016 by Mario D. Vaden

The photo shows part of the Port Orford Cedar found in 2009. The upper branches covered with moss that has taken residency high up on it's canopy

I was exploring with Dr. Steve Sillett and Dr. Robert Van Pelt, looking at potential study grove options across Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Sometime in the afternoon, Steve caught a glimpse of the tall trunk perched in one of the many small valleys. In a matter of minutes, we learned it was a new world record. Chris Atkins is about the only other person who has visited this Port Orfor Cedar. Atkins is in one of my May 8, 2009 photos taken here.

Tallest Port Orford Cedar in the World

The day of discovery, this measured 81.08 meters to the top, with live foliage up to 77.42 meters. The trunk dbh measured 280.4 centimeters.

The next tallest known was 72.8 m in Coquille Falls Research Natural Area, Siskiyou National Forest, Oregon.

The bark of these Port Orford cedar can look like a few of the big younger redwoods: some just don't have the deep furrows.

The foliage difference may be hard to detect if the limbs start up high on the trunk. But there is usually enough on the ground for identification.

In fact, I remember hiking elsewhere, on Flint Ridge trail years later in 2016, when the foliage challenge showed it's face one more time. In 2016, I stopped at an old western redcedar along with a man named Mark from back east, and Ed, a retired redwood guide. The foliage was very tiny and hardly any pieces fell to the ground. Ed thought it was a redwood at first, and the bark did bear slight resemblance to young coast redwoods. But we stayed a while longer. Eventually I found a foliage sample on the ground and used a zoom lense to photograph foliage from a distance overhead. The photo and sample indicated western redcedar. This plant identification episode reminded me of 2009 when we found the Port Orford Cedar.

The map below shows some of the hills and valleys of Jedediah Smith redwoods. You can see how many small valleys there are with protection from wind where super tall conifers can grow.

Many of the taller conifers grow in the valleys because there is wind protection, and that's also the last place that water moves to as it runs down from the hills. Some of the valleys are also the hardest places to explore because the fallen wood and debris is abundant. And the slopes are steep and slippery. There are a few small cliffs too.

 

 

Map of Jedediah Smith Redwoods with Tallest Port Orford Cedar

 

Port Orford cedar is a large evergreen, maturing 100 - 200 feet tall or more. The trunks can be 4 to 6 feet in diameter or more. It has feathery foliage in flat sprays, frequently glaucous blue-green in color. The leaves are scale-like, 3-5 mm long, with narrow white markings on the underside, and flattened shoots. The seed cones are globose, 7-14 mm diameter, with 6-10 scales, green at first, maturing brown in fall, months after spring pollination. The male cones are 3-4 mm long, dark red, turning brown after early spring pollen release. The bark is reddish-brown, and fibrous or scaly in vertical strips.

Similar, the Western redcedar seems more emerald green, with markings under foliage that sometimes look like bow tie or butterfly shapes. Port Orford cedar can have white markings like tiny letter X's. But initially, I find the bluish color to be a good clue in some cases for Port Orford

This species can be damaged by a root disease caused by the fungal pathogen, Phytophthora lateralis. Port Orford cedars are sometimes killed by other species of Phytophthora. This is why you may see signs in the redwood park about this fungus and your boots.