When a tree falls in a forest and there is no one around to hear, it makes a big noise, as well as a mess, and it leaves some if its root in the ground. If a redwood tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around to hear, it is probably better that way. It wold be dangerous to be too close to a redwood when it comes down! They are so big and tall, and are typically so crowded amongst other trees, that they bring down tons of debris with them.

Falling redwoods are rare. They live for centuries or thousands of years. Yet, sooner or later it happens. In more modern history, after the ecology of the redwood groves was disrupted by extensive harvesting, redwoods sometimes get killed by forest fires. (Redwoods are some of the few trees in California that survive forest fires by being fire retardant, but can be killed if enough of the more combustible trees around them burn hotly enough. Extensive harvesting allowed more of the other combustible trees to mix into redwood forests than would normally be there.)

The one thing that redwoods do even less frequently than fall is die. Even after they fall, burn to ‘death’ or get cut down, they regenerate from their stump or roots. Sometimes, several or many genetically identical new trees that are all attached to the same root system develop around a dying parent before it falls. They sometimes do so after a parent burns or gets cut down. Eventually, the original tree decays, leaving a circle of new trees around where it once was. Outsiders often refer to them as ‘fairy rings’. To us, they are just tree circles or rings. Larger and more impressive circles might be known as ‘chapels’ or better yet, ‘cathedrals’.

They are impressive features in the forests. When the area nearby gets landscaped, they are typically ignored because they are so excellent that they can not be improved. There are not many plants that live in the debris of redwoods anyway.

1. This is a nice small but crowded chapel where I work.P80512
2. How does such a chapel get landscaped? It doesn’t. Ours happens to have a nice patch of azaleas nearby. This picture was taken earlier. Bloom finished a while ago.P80512+
3. These azaleas are just so excellent that I had to get a better picture to show them off.P80512++
4. Forget-me-not happens to be one of those few plants that does not mind light redwood litter, so we often let it grow and bloom if it shows up in a good spot.P80512+++
5. Columbine just seems to look good with redwoods for some reason, but it dislikes the litter. This columbine is in a nearby planter that does not get much litter.P80512++++
6. I can not explain the red freesias that bloom earlier in spring. There are yellow and purple ones too. No one knows where they came from, but they do not seem to be bothered by a bit of redwood litter.P80512+++++This is the link for Six on Saturday, for anyone else who would like to participate:



25 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Tree Ring Circus

  1. This is a photo from 2011 of the Californian Redwoods on the mountainside here. There was a huge fire in 2015 and I would love to know if they survived – the photo came through on my Facebook feed as a ‘memory’ this morning. The area has only recently been opened and now one has to pay to go there C:\Documents and Settings\Joe.JOE-8E2F88AF50C\My Documents\Ann\anntf652011

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    1. Unfortunately, the picture did not come through. If the trees were mature coastal redwoods, they probably survived. It is possible that they died, but a fire must be very hot to kill them. There were actually a few dead trunks in my neighborhood from a fire that burned through there in the 1950s. The giant redwoods are a bit more easily killed, but could have survived if there was not much else around them, and if they were big enough to have insulated themselves. Mature trees have very thick fibrous bark!

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      1. That might have been old enough too survive the fires though. Most in my neighborhood were less than that old because they were the second generation tree after the old trees were harvested for construction in the San Francisco Bay Area, particularly right after the Great Earthquake and Fire of San Francisco in 1906.


    1. They are quite fitting. There are big rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias and all sorts of woodsy but colorful flowers a few yards away, as well as plenty of ferns. There are even Australian tree ferns in there because they have that nicely contrasting light green color and big fronds.

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    1. There were several at home, and there is a nice one on one of the garden parcels in Brookdale. The trees there are not very tall, but the trunks are bulky because they are near the ridge. The original trees were huge. At home, I built an outhouse over the hollow stump of a formerly harvested redwood, and a shower inside another. The largest stump was big enough to build a guest room in.

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