Why we are cutting down all our cedar trees.

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When we first moved into this house last September, the cedar tree you see above was in bad need of pruning.  Its branches were all over the roof and pushed up against the side of the house; it doesn’t seem like that would be a hard job, but my husband risked his life doing it because what you can’t see in this picture is that there is a steep drop off to a hill right behind that tree; our house is built into the back of that hill such that 1.5 stories are visible from the front, but another full story exists as a walk-out lower level when you look at it from behind.  So he was perched two stories up on a ladder trimming those branches – scary!  We debated cutting the tree down, but it’s a nice, mature tree so we decided to leave it.

I began noticing in the fall that smaller cedar trees had sprung up here and there all over our property.  My husband has cut those down now and we are waiting for a professional arborist to remove the big one next to the house.

Why?

Well, this past spring after a particularly heavy rain, one of our daughters came rushing in to inform us that there was orange snot all over the cedar tree.  She wasn’t kidding:

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Big, slimy globs of bright orange goo were hanging all over the tree.

“What the heck is that!?” I gasped, grossed out.

After some time spent online, I learned that is a fungal infection called Cedar Apple Rust.  It’s a very unusual fungus in that, like White Pine Blister Rust, it requires two years and two species of tree to complete its life cycle.  It starts out as hard, brown balls in the fall on cedar trees and sends out those orange globs of yucky stuff, which are actually the fungal spores.  The spores then become airborne and infect apple trees and other plants in that family (crabapples, Hawthornes, some pears, roses), resulting in a rusty infection on the leaves and severely blighted fruit.

You can see the rust blight now on some of our apple trees even though we sprayed them with Immunox, a fungicide, after we figured out what was going on:

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Since we are trying to grow our produce organically, we don’t want to have to keep spraying our trees, so we are taking out the cedars and we are planting apple cultivars that are resistant to Cedar Apple Rust.  You can find a list of apple cultivars, both heirloom and hybrids, that discusses each cultivar’s level of resistance to cedar apple rust here.  I ordered several Liberty and Empire trees to add to our little orchard because they are resistant to CAR and I shouldn’t need to do much spraying, if any at all.

The cedar wood will go to good use; it makes great fence posts because of the naturally-occurring resins in the wood, which make cedar wood slow to decay.  You can also use it to make nice camp fires in your fire pit without waiting for it to dry out, though it does smoke a bit as the resins burn.

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9 thoughts on “Why we are cutting down all our cedar trees.

  1. We had a couple of lovely cedar trees too, but they got diseased and began to rot from the inside out. When we cut them down they were nearly hollow inside and could have fallen on the house. I planted blueberries in the stumps and they have loved the decaying cedar, so now I have tons of blueberries or I would if people did not stand about feasting on my berries and chatting.

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  2. Looking for land to retire on in Texas, many of the ads read “all cedar removed” which is considered a good thing.

    I’m not sure why. When I asked the real estate agent she said “people just don’t like it here.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yea…..cedar here is not native….at least in most parts of Texas. The cedars take over where oak trees are and simply smother out the sun and consume the H20. Texas A&M University claims a large cedar can consume up to 300 gallons of water a year. Please don’t ask me how they research that!!

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  3. Lebanon was famous for its cedars. There’s one on their flag. Sadly, greedy Roimans cut them all down for their Navy. Perhaps I am a bleeding heart idealist but, instead Israeli soldiers invading shouldering Galil rifles, it would be nic if they were shouldering shovels to put it all back to right.

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  4. Cedar roots can be very invasive. We have a raised bed located by a cedar tree and that raised bed yields nothing no matter how much we add nutrients to the soil. Seeds do not sprout and starts do not grow. So cedar can ruin other crops. I have grown to dislike cedar!

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