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Redwood Forest Questions

 
Mr. Wright
Posts: 6
Location: Murfreesboro TN
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Hello! I have been reading from this forum for a few months now, and decided to sign up. Have to say I have loved the wealth of information that these forums hold. I know I could introduce myself in other established threads, but there are a couple of questions that I needed to run by someone, how is that for function stacking? My love of forests originally started me on the way to permaculture so I figure woodland care would be a great place to post.

I recently read that North Carolina has three redwood (sequoia sempervivens) conservation groves totaling 400 or so trees (or more). There are Redwoods growing in Italy, which with its Mediterranean climate is much like Tennessee's hot dry summers and cold wet winters. This got me thinking, that I could actually plant redwoods and expect them to thrive. Now I did my research, and found out there are three different kinds of sequoia's, two native to the USA and one native to China. The one I would be looking to grow would be the coastal redwood. Does anyone have the experience with redwood forests? Cultivating? I'm not looking for whether or not the trees would grow in TN, I want to know people experience with them. Does anyone use one in a guild, or a guild of guilds.

What I'm thinking is along these lines. The redwoods, with enough water, will shed up to 30% of their branches in a growing season. Great for hugelkultur and biochar. I say both because I believe them both to be useful tools in the permaculture bucket. Their roots also inosculate with other redwood roots, which would be amazing to use as a way to connect fragmented guilds together in a food forest.  Being one of the few evergreen coniferous trees (windbreak and animal habitat in winter) that take well to coppicing due to it suckering and stump sprouting nature and the rot resistant wood could be used in any myriad of products. The Positives for this tree are legion, plus who wouldn't want to say they have a Redwood forest out back?

I foresee the drawbacks/ challenges being water related in Tennessee. The property it would inhabit would almost have to swale'd, pond'ed, and designed to catch and store as much incoming water as possible. These trees don't have massive taproots ( like most every tree out here in Tennessee) they have an extensive shallow root system designed to take advantage of flooding. One of the two things California has too much of, that and wildfires. This doesn't have to be a negative,  but a subtle biological nudge to place the tree in an area prone to flood deposits.

All I'm asking is some intel from the boots on the ground, the people who have gotten to see these giants in their natural habitat. Maybe, one day, you will hear about crazy old man Mr. Wright in TN, and his unorthodox redwood grove.
 
Mark Vander Meer
Posts: 74
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I spent about 8 years doing redwood forest restoration and  research in Humboldt county.  A couple of things you will need to know:  Redwoods need fog to really grow to their potential.  Do you have lots of fog?  Redwoods also need a lot of soil carbon, so using shed branches is really counter-productive.  The litter accumulation and litter decomposition rate in a fairly mature redwood forest is about even, so there really isn’t any surplus carbon for other uses. 

Redwoods are easy to propagate from seed.  However, they have a very complex association with many species of below ground biota.  So, you may need to retrieve some inoculum to really do it right.  A 5-gallon bucket of litter, duff and a bit of mineral should do it for about a quarter acre.  Of course, introducing unknowns into your woods is risky.  I sure wouldn’t do it to my woods. 

What do you mean by guild? 
 
                        
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
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Hey mr. wright,

I don't have a ton of experience with cultivated redwoods, but I have observed them in their native habitat quite a bit.  With that said my uncle does have a dozen or so that he planted along his fence line in Vacaville,CA which gets mighty hot in the summer and dry too.  He has them on sunken pipe drip irrigation, that is to say a pipe driven vertically into the ground to about 3-5 ft. depth and a dripper in the bottom of the pipe to water them below the ground.  That is the only way he can get them to survive in the heat of the valley without a silly amount of evaporation

Where I have been around them in their native range (Humboldt and Mendocino county,CA) they form seriously dense shade and only plants that tolerate that shade are guilded with them.  Many different ferns mainly sword fern(Polystichum munitum), redwood sorrel, violets, false solomons seal, adders tounge and wild gingers are the plants that I see most often amongst the redwoods.  In clearings and along streams there are more broad leafed plants, berries and the like.  Fog plays a huge role in their survival there as well.  They suck the moisture up through their needles so the more humidity you give them the better.

can't wait to hear about the crazy guy in NC growing redwoods. cheers
 
Mr. Wright
Posts: 6
Location: Murfreesboro TN
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Wanted to say thanks for commenting on my post.

I hate to say this, but I am in the crawl phase of my Permaculture journey. I am still learning.

The part of Tennessee that I have my eyes on is at the foothills of the Appalachians, which coincidentally is called "The Smoky Mountains" because of the excess of fog and low hanging clouds. Tennessee is very humid, especially in the summer. I think the average humidity is 65%.  While I doubt that I will ever plant a redwood that will exceed 150 feet, that is still 100 feet taller than the average oak in my area.

I don't believe in invasives. I don't believe in natives. Just opportunistic species that take advantage of of human made disturbances. Given time and permaculturist mindset all plants will fall into the rythym of the local ecosystem with the help of humans. I don't believe Tennessee has any law prohibiting the cultivation of redwoods. I doubt ultimately that the redwoods I want to introduce will find a niche in the ecosystem, since their existence relies heavily on forest fires for propagation.

Thank you guys so much for the information and time.

I do believe the redwood groves in NC is a gov't funded conservation. Or at least a group of like minded individuals.

A guild is a set of plants which work together like a mini ecosystem. So you have a nitrogen fixer, a nutrient accumulator, a mulch plant , etc. Its a way of looking at modules of plants and assigning them roles in their ecosystem. Obviously you wouldn't choose a slow growing oak to be your mulch plant, (one you would cut back 4-5 times a growing season) but it would be a great nutrient accumulator with the depth and breadth that its roots go.
 
                            
Posts: 11
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Mark Vander Meer wrote:Redwoods need fog to really grow to their potential. 


Maybe year-round fog will allow them to grow really fast, but they are growing fine on my property in the Pacific Northwest.  My trees are getting a mixture of sunlight, but the best one is probably growing 3' a year.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
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Was just out trimming some suckers off a redwood in my mum's place in the foothills north of L.A.  The needles and branches are strongly acid, so consider that in your equation.  Nothing is growing under the redwood.  The redwood forests, as mentioned above, contain only a very few species, relative to most other forests. 
 
Chris Kott
Posts: 796
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Hi all,

I really like the idea of having giant trees incorporated into my food forest. I especially like the idea of encouraging an eastern analog of a western rainforest. Here in Ontario we already have a colder, dryer variety called Eastern Temperate-Boreal Transition, examples of which include parts of the Ottawa Valley, Algonquin Park, and Temagami ecoregion. Another good approach might be to mix the Redwoods, which you'd put in lower-lying area (assuming there is some variation to your terrain, the lower areas would be wetter, yes?) with other wet-loving species that grow in similar conditions from analogous ecosystems, and plant dryer climate trees of the same scale on the higher areas. Encouraging diversity of species on the same scale would mean that the spaces that would host wet-loving tree species but are too dry would still have a giant tree releasing moisture to the environment when the air becomes drier. Also, if you even had a variety of different Redwoods, the ones best suited not only to your geographic location, but to the microclimates each finds itself in would be the ones to survive, meaning less necessary inputs, and that the species have the ability to colonise unused land and keep transforming it.

I wonder how far outside the root systems the allelopathy extends in the conifers we'd be talking about? If we could plan it such that these zones wouldn't overlap, but instead be checkerboarded with, say, patches of oak savannah and non-acidic food forest, there would be a lot of edge in the plan, much more diversity, and it would be much more interesting and resilient than a system that has only one species of a particular type in each niche.

-CK
 
Shawn Harper
Posts: 360
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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yukkuri kame wrote:Was just out trimming some suckers off a redwood in my mum's place in the foothills north of L.A.  The needles and branches are strongly acid, so consider that in your equation.  Nothing is growing under the redwood.  The redwood forests, as mentioned above, contain only a very few species, relative to most other forests. 


Several types of Edable fern can grow beneath them, as well as blue berries and other acid loving plants.
 
Terri Matthews
Posts: 468
Location: Eastern Kansas
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I grew up with Redwoods, but I am a little out of date.

Redwoods to not have shallow roots to withstand flooding: they have shallo roots because the coastal fog drips off of the needles onto the ground. It might not raid for 6 months in my area of California, but as long as there was fog the trees would be fine. It might not have rained for months, but it would be dripping and soggy under the trees.

Whereever there was space between the redwoods, huckleberries or Manzanita would grow. So, I would say that the soil must have been acid.
 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Rain works too. I grew up with redwoods, too, and we were far enough inland not to get much fog, and there were plenty of redwoods even further inland.
Second growth redwood forests tend to not have much in the way of undergrowth because the closely spaced rapidly growing redwoods tend to outcompete everything. But old growth forests tend to have an interesting and healthy variety of underbrush, particularly where a tree has come down within a few years. They do not have as much undergrowth as normal pine forests, deciduous forests, or mixed forests. And yes, the needles create acid environments.
 
D.A. Hanks
Posts: 3
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I believe I may be able to shed some light on your initial question. There are indeed, redwoods growing in NC in three separate groves, but they are not Coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens).

In 1995, I created the Crescent Ridge Dawn Redwoods Preserve, and as the name suggests, they are dawn redwoods (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), not coast redwoods. We did indeed, have three groves: Grandmothers Grove, Lower Meadow and Beaver Meadow. As the latter may indicate, beavers are present in the area and cut down 125-150 trees, ruining 15 years' worth of research and 15% of the project.

We currently have around 200 trees left, with the largest at 60 feet or so, with a diameter over a foot. Further info about the project and the history of the dawn redwood can be found at dawnredwood.org.

 
D.A. Hanks
Posts: 3
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Just a quick followup on Coastal redwoods:

Contrary to popular belief, Coast redwoods do not require fog! Along the California coast, these trees use the fog to supplement what the ground does not offer. Take these trees to a location of the same temperatures with abundant groundwater and they will thrive without the fog. An excellent example of this lays in New Zealand, where someone got the bright idea to plant a huge plantation with good temps, fog and groundwater. The result? Trees that grew so fast that they are not suitable for timber use. They have a density of 19# per cubic foot.

Examples of mature Coast redwoods along the East coast are: Abbeville, SC and the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA. Coast redwoods have also been successfully planted in the Gulf states.

Coast redwoods are intolerant of ice and snow, and will not survive in the Smoky Mountains. Out of 100, only one survived at the Preserve, and in 15 years it is still only chest-high. This is at an elevation of only 900 feet.
 
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