Question about a Browning Cedar

Asked September 28, 2017, 8:57 PM EDT

Hello, I'm hoping you can help me. I have a cedar tree in my backyard and I recently noticed that a lot of the branches are starting to turn brown. I have enclosed a picture. I'm not sure if you can see it very well but I was wondering if you had any insight. Thanks so much, Tammy Sakultarawattn

Columbia County Oregon

1 Response

Thank you for your question. It is fairly common for all conifers (including Western redcedar) to exhibit late summer and fall foliage loss (i.e. yellow to reddish-brown foliage). One would usually observe this on older foliage and branches, whereas newer foliage (usually at the branch tips) remains green. Most conifers only retain their foliage for a certain amount of years, and they cast off older foliage (anywhere from 2 to 11 years old depending on the species) at the end of the growing season. Although foliage loss is subtle and unnoticeable with most conifer species, foliage loss with Western redcedar can often seem fairly dramatic because of the stark difference in color. Also, long spells of hot, dry weather in late summer can exacerbate the visibility of foliage loss. This is a completely natural process and does not damage the tree.

At the same time, many forest health professionals in Oregon and Washington have been concerned about recent redcedar mortality throughout our region. Based on the picture you attached, it looks like you are simply dealing with natural fall foliage loss. But if for some reason you observe one or more entirely or near entirely brown Western redcedar trees, please contact your local Extension forester.