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• More Information on Cedar (Juniper) Trees

As we continue our business I am constantly reminded that over infestation of Cedar is not a good thing. Several properties we have cleared lately have had good specimens of other trees, Live Oaks, Cedar Elms, Pecan, and others, that have been near death. Some have been dead due to the cedar out competing for water and in some cases light. We look forward to the next few years when these trees that have been rescued will return to health and their potential beauty.

Lots of people in the Hill Country will make claims about how many gallons of water a day a large Ashe Juniper tree will consume. Several years back our county extension agent answered the question: Cedar trees are very disliked by many in this area, is there a legitimate reason for this prejudice? The answer was a long one. There are good things about these trees, but the sheer number of trees in an over infestation negates the positives. The biggest negative is the commonly known reason, water consumption.

There are primarily three reasons that the cedar is a water waster. When it rains the trees foliage will hold approximately a quarter inch of rainfall before it starts to hit the ground. At the end of the rain this quarter inch evaporates into the air without ever getting to the ground. Secondly, when it rains enough to get past the foliage the cedar tree is structured to pull rainfall down towards its trunk. Most other trees shed water at their drip line. The last reason that he explained has to do with the internal structure of the foliage. He explained that most trees have the ability to close their "pores" during hot weather conserving water. The juniper tree does not have this ability, leaving it to create an open wick to the ground transferring water all the time.

In fairness, other educated people interviewed have not concurred completely with the third reason cited. Some even feel that if you had an infestation of oaks or any other woody species you would experience the same loss of water.

The horticulturists that I have spoken with do agree with the benefits of mulching the cedar trees in place. The mulch immediately begins retaining water in the soil and reducing erosion. A good environment is made to reestablish native grass and the biomass of the mulched trees slowly composts and returns to the soil.

 

 

 

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