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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Redwood Seedling Reforestation by Forest Unlimited

Volunteers are needed to help plant 
on beautiful Sonoma County land.

This January, Forest Unlimited will be planting approximately 2,000 two-year old redwood seedlings for reforestation and erosion control at Wild Wood Retreat, a stunningly beautiful 500+ acre location in the hills above Guerneville. The proposed county Jenner Headlands-Austin Creek Recreation Area trail will pass through part of this property. The only thing we are in short supply of are volunteers to help plant the trees.

Forest Unlimited is a 15-year old 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation headquartered in Cazadero. Its mission is to protect, enhance, and restore the forests and watersheds of Sonoma County. Please visit our website at

The planting dates are on Friday, January 7th and Saturday, January 8th. On each day, we will rendezvous at 8:30 a.m. in Guerneville to carpool. The morning session will end at around 12:30 and the afternoon session will end around 4:30 p.m. We could use your help, even if you can plant for only half of one day. All equipment and a free indoor lunch, including drinks and snacks, will be provided. Vegetarian food will also be available.

The seedlings average about 18-inches in height and are not difficult to plant. These trees will be protected and will not be subject to future logging.

To sign up and/or to ask any questions, please contact us: Carl Wahl, Project Manager, at 874-9268 or or Bob Nelson, Project Manager, at 874-1740 or at,

Upon sign-up, we will send you further information regarding rendezvous location, car-pooling, appropriate attire, etc. Please tell your friends, and thanks.


Great Big Trees

By Victoria Wikle

What is the biggest tree? You know the answer.
The coast redwood (sequoia sempervirens) is the tallest living species on Earth. Redwood grows along the coast in SW Oregon and NW California in foggy areas. Often they can reach heights of 300-350 feet and diameters of 16-18 feet. More than a dozen trees exceeding 360 feet in height are now growing along the California coast. The largest tree was measured at 364 feet high and 20 feet diameter.

How fast do they grow?
Redwood trees can grow very rapidly. Young trees develop a narrow conical silhouette--the highest branches reaching upward, the lower ones drooping. This shape changes with age. Young redwoods use sunlight so efficiently (3-4 times more than pines) that they can grow even in deep shade. But with full sunlight and moist soil, a redwood sapling can grow more than 6 feet in a single growing season.

How do they reproduce?
Redwood reproduces both sexually and asexually. Redwood begins
producing seeds at 5 to 15 years of age. Redwood cones release tiny brown seeds (125,000 weigh about a pound) when mature. A single tree may produce six million seeds in a year. Of these seeds, only a small number germinate and grow into seedlings. Redwood also can sprout from the roots of parent trees, from dormant buds in the burls at the base of a tree, or from fallen trees. If a tree is cut or burned, a family circle of trees ("fairy ring") may sprout up from the stump. These sprouts, because of already established root systems, grow more vigorously than seedlings and so are the more common form of reproduction. In fact, successive generations of sprouts are really "clone trees". Thus the genetic information of an individual redwood may be thousands of years old, dating back to the first parent.

How old are they?

Paleobotanists report finding fossil redwoods, dated up to 160 million years old, throughout western North America and along the coasts of Europe and Asia. Redwood fossils in California seem to be more recent, limited to rocks less than 20 million years old.

What is special about their roots?
The root system is composed of deep, wide spreading lateral roots with no taproot. In the floodplain environment redwood uses "the endurer strategy." After flooding and stem burial, redwood will develop a new and higher lateral root system from buried buds on the bole of the tree. While the repeated flooding and deposition of soil (often to depths of 30 inches) kills competing vegetation, redwood endures. The bark is up to 12 inches thick and quite fibrous that helps mature trees survive fire.

Did you know there are white redwoods?

Redwood is one of the few vegetatively reproducing conifers, readily regenerating from stump sprouts in the wake of a major disturbance (typically fire). One peculiar consequence of this is the occurrence of “white redwoods,” which are trees that originate as root sprouts, do not use sunlight for energy, deriving all of their carbohydrate from the roots of their photosynthetic associates (which are not necessarily related, as root grafting is common between redwoods). White redwoods are found only in old-growth forests, where the overstory biomass of photosynthetic redwoods is colossal (redwood forests have the highest aboveground biomass loadings in the world) and the white trees are generally less than 3 meters tall. However, white redwoods up to 60 feet tall are known to exist. Trees clad in fresh foliage are snow-white.

How do redwoods relate to water?
Redwoods are a hydrostatic marvel. They can siphon water upward to great heights, fighting gravity and friction every inch of the way. And during the dry summers in California, the coast redwoods actually create their own "rain" by condensing heavy fog into drenching showers that provide welcome moisture to the roots below.

Why do redwoods thrive in foggy places?
Scientists believe that redwoods take in much of their water directly from the air, through their needles and through canopy roots that the trees sprout on their branches. Lofty "soil mats" formed by trapped dust, needles, seeds and other materials act like sponges to capture the water that nurtures these canopy roots. Moisture from fog is thought to provide 30% to 40% of a redwood's water supply.

What else lives with redwoods?

Redwood forests also support many plants and animals. Squirrels, deer and raccoons are frequently seen residents. Nests of the endangered Marbled Murrelet and the Northern Spotted Owl are found almost exclusively in old-growth redwood forests. The yellow banana slug spends its life grooming the forest floor. Tree companions include Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and California bay (Umbellularia californica). Some of the other plants that grow under the tree (more about these in future columns):
California hazelnut (Corylus californica)
Evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum)
Western azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)
Woodrose (Rosa californica)
Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus var.velutinus)
Redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana)
Redwood violet (Viola empervirens)
Sword fern (Polystichum munitum)
Wild ginger (Asarum caudatum)
Alumroot(Heuchera spp.)
California wax myrtle (Myrica californica)
Bleeding heart(Dicentra formosa)
Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
Five-finger fern(Adiantum aleuticum)
Giant trillium (Trillium chloropetalum)

Where can I see old growth redwoods?
A nearby example of the redwood forest is the beautiful grove of old redwoods at Armstrong Redwood Preserve in Guerneville. The Preserve allows free parking and free walking admittance all year round.

Do redwoods make good garden plants?
Yes, they do especially in their native range. How many have you planted?

® Victoria Wikle

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