Ancient cedars in Wisconsin   Don Bragg
  Dec 08, 2005 05:43 PST 


I get the magazine Wisconsin Natural Resources (published by the
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources), and this month's issue
(December 2005) has an article written by Kathryn Kahler titled
"Vertically Inclined" about the ancient northern white-cedars and
eastern redcedars found primarily on the Niagra Escarpment that was a
topic of discussion on the ENTS list not that long ago (I believe Lee
Frelich had initiated that conversation).

In her article, she interviewed Jeffrey Nekola of the University of
Wisconsin-Green Bay, who had been aging some of these cedars with Doug
Larson (botanist/dendrochronologist at University of Guelph who has
studied similar cliff ecosystems in Canada). The ages of some of these
trees in the land of beer and cheese were remarkable! According to a
quote of Nekola, they dated an eastern redcedar near Green Bay that was
about 1,200 years old, and several northern white-cedars 500 to 600
years old in other parts of the area.

These cliffside communities are remarkably unique in their "type" of
diversity, by providing habitat for rare species, and also by protecting
ancient if diminutive trees. Cool!!

Don Bragg

Don Bragg, Ph.D.
Research forester
RE: Ancient cedars in Wisconsin   Don Bragg
  Dec 09, 2005 06:03 PST 


Growing up in northern Wisconsin, I never thought much about the
northern white-cedars that we would see along the escarpments and gorges
at places like Copper Falls State Park or in the UP of Michigan, but now
I'm curious as to how ancient these cedars may be...

I do remember counting the rings of some northern white-cedar stumps in
a swamp near my parent's house, and being impressed that these
non-descript individuals were 150+ years old. I suspect there are a lot
more old trees like this across much of the upper midwest, protected
from logging by their small stature, poor access, and limited

Don Bragg

Edward Frank wrote:

Thanks for the information on these old cedars. We are getting a far
number of post dealing with old trees. I might even need to make a separate
section on the website for dendrochronology. The post by Lee talked
about "cedar complexes" formed by fallen trees whose living branches in turn
grow into new trees. The entire subject of these cedar groves fascinates me.

The previous post on the subject is posted at:

Some earlier discussion of white cedar are also posted to the website at:

I visited a fairly young cedar swamp at the Michigan State Fisheries
Visitors Center this summer myself, but want to visit these examples on
the Door Peninsula and the Niagara Dolomite Escarpment.

Ed Frank