Canadian Canoe Routes

Agawa Canyon small but old trees????
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Author:  jedi jeffi [ October 6th, 2015, 9:49 am ]
Post subject:  Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

I thought I would post here because as paddle trippers we see lots of interesting things on our trips, some more mysterious than others.
You don't need a fancy camera to record your findings but in this day and age we need to document what we find so we can protect our special places.

Agawa Small but old trees?
I have always found interesting new things on my annual fall pilgrimage to Agawa Canyon in the fall.
It can be a variety of “stuff” that I find interesting or could be of interest to many others.
One of this years “finds” we have met before in my 2010 trip reports and it was surprisingly and pleasantly shocking.
Hopefully this will inspire those of you with kids or lead youth groups to look at what is out there on our trips with a different set of eyes, and encourage everyone to be a little more careful with plant life.
As with other finds on my trips it raises more questions than answers, but that just gives me another reason to go back.
The biggest question is just how old is this tree?
The “plug” where the tree meets the rock is much bigger than the trunk.

First 3 picks is of our friend in Oct. 2010
It is on top of a large boulder along side the Agawa River and the top is above the extreme flood heights.




The next two are from the end of September 2015.



Keep on exploring!

Author:  frozentripper [ October 6th, 2015, 10:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

They're probably not more than several years old... age can be determined by counting the terminal bud scars along the twig. TBSs encircle the twig entirely and show where the twig stopped growing the previous year. Leaf scars show where leaves grew the previous year, and those don't encircle. Next year the terminal buds at the ends of those twigs will produce growth of several inches more and that will result in another TBS on the twig.

These are vulnerable to deer and moose browsers biting off the new growth which tends to produce a low bush with time... IIRC, maple buds are also edible for humans although I've never been that hungry.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ October 6th, 2015, 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

My thought too, except the deer/moose would have a heck of time climbing through the log jams and other large boulders to get to this location. It is not an easy place to get to.
The really weird plug where the trunk meets the rock is a little bigger than a quarter.
(wide not high)
There are fine leaf scars along the trunk.
I fully did not expect to see this still here after 5 years since my last visit to this site.
There is no sign of past breakage on the stem.
Since it is not on a forest floor there is little if any nutrients for rapid growth as you mention.
It is different and that is what attracted me.

Author:  frozentripper [ October 6th, 2015, 7:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

Rabbits will also bite off maple buds... it seems maples and esp red maples are some of the higher-quality foods available for browsers.

I can't tell from the photos how many TBSs are on the stems... if the twig is fast-growing and vigorous, the TBSs will be widely spaced and the twig often has a smooth surface. Slow-growing twigs will have closely-packed TBSs and that should create a rougher surface along with the leaf scars.

Not a maple twig, arrow points to one TBS on the main stem, there may be another at the top edge.


Author:  jedi jeffi [ October 6th, 2015, 9:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

What can I say except that rabbits and other critters just would not get to this location.
I know all about the other stuff which is again why this caught my eye.
The images I have here just don't show the "plug" I am talking about.
This is on a house size boulder on the side of the river, seperated by other house size boulders, yes mice could get here. Rabbits I am not so sure
And yes I am very familiar with what you have posted.
Not wishing to argue but you would need to see the location and the root "plug" in person.
It is different.
It is not browser territory, in high/flood water it is an island and the boulder itself is high enough to be well above the extreme flood levels they had last fall.
I have sent the pics to some tree experts and I will post and findings they may come up with.

This is a pic last year at flood level of the rock from above. with fast water around it there was no way to even try to climb along the rocks like I usually do.

The rock in question is at the bottom, right of centre, beside the reddish rock with the log linking to it, in front of the green moss covered rock behind it. This year the rock was almost 4m above the water line.


In most cases you would be correct with you posted, Just like real estate it is location.
And the only way to prove my point is wait for the little tree to die.
Buy then again I had the same sort of "discussion" with someone over ancient trees on the cliff faces of the canyon till I brought a sample down after a rock fall.

Author:  jedi jeffi [ October 6th, 2015, 9:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

Here's a couple of my sons pics to show others the location.
Boulder left of centre and remember these are a lot bigger than the image shows.
I am standing on the rail bed changed shore, the boulder section is the true natural shoreline.


This is a cropped shot, if you look upper left you will see a tiny yellow dot, that is this little maple on the rock. You just can't see the space and boulders behind it and between where the bank of the river is. You do feel small making you way around these.


Author:  frozentripper [ October 7th, 2015, 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

Another way to determine age, which I'm sure you're aware of, is to cut off the main stem at ground level and count the growth rings on a cross section... if it is a really slow-growing seedling, a microscope might be needed to see the rings. Otherwise a hand lens.

Not possible in a park, and if you are watching them year after year, maybe TBS counts are good enough (if a lot of TBSes show, it's an old seedling). Keep us informed how this most interesting mystery develops.

PS... cedars growing at the margins of northern lakes and in rocks can be very slow-growing... those I would not cut. I chainsawed down a white cedar about 120 years old on my property with about 6-7 inch diameter.... the growth rings so closely packed a hand lens was needed to count them. No more cutting there.

Author:  frozentripper [ October 7th, 2015, 9:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

The reason I suggested that browsers might be cutting off new growth was because of the much wider stem base (the "plug", the base and roots keep sending up thinner new shoots).

Maybe ice flow is clipping off the new growth? I'd expect a more ragged looking appearance due to the damage done, instead the stem and base appear smooth.

PS.... the swelling at the junction of the stem and roots is called the root collar.


Author:  jedi jeffi [ October 7th, 2015, 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Agawa Canyon small but old trees????

Thanks for the root collar info.
It is actually incredibly smooth.
No ice scars on the rock that high up.
(you can see that in both the 2010 and 15 pics)
There are many examples of the ice and flood scaring elsewhere here and along the river, all of which show what you have listed before.
Just not this spot. It is very unique which is why it stood out.
I know theft and removal of similar sized trees is a real problem along the escarpment here, they are usually cedar though.
They are sold as bonsai trees
There are usually around 50 years old at this size which is what I suspect this this one to be around that figure based on the growth patterns you mentioned.
I don't even cut bush or deadfalls to clean out a picture like some people do.
The sample I gave a few years back was a white cedar that was in a rock slide from high up a cliff, it had over 75 rings in a loonie sized stem, the rest of the tree was pretty well crushed.
We did not come across any new rock falls in our climbs this year.

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