Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Another stunning day.

The leaves are turning now. Not as spectacular a display as I grew up with in Ontario, but they mark the seasons nonetheless. It's the Big-leaf Maples that are putting on the real show at the moment, as their huge leaves turn yellow and stand out in stark contrast to the evergreen shades of Douglas-fir and Western Red-cedar.

More alarming though is what seems to be happening to the Western Red-cedars. Many of these trees, especially along Miller Road and in Crippen Park are changing colour. Substantial numbers of their leaves are going yellow, curiously, only on the inside of the branch closest to the trunk. The leaves at the end of the branches are green, but the pattern seems to be that along each minor branch, several sprigs close to the trunk are yellowed and dried up.

I've never seen this before, and my instinct is that it's the result of the last few years of stress on the trees from the soils drying out. Cedars like moist conditions, scarce in the droughts of the past three summers. It seems like the trees are focusing their energy on growth and on the leaves at the edges where the light is, sacrificing the shadier branches which perhaps don't produce as much food for the tree.

What do you think is happening?

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