Atlantic white cedar blues

At Cold Stream Farm, we consider planting trees to be one of our missions. One way we accomplish this is by selling bare root trees. We also do our best in supporting conservation efforts nationwide. To hear that a group of people is planting trees is music to our ears. One such effort is happening in Copicut Swamp, a swamp in Bristol County, Massachusetts. The Trustees of Reservations is planting Atlantic white cedars.

Atlantic white cedar Copicut SwampIn the article, “In swampy forest, planting trees keeps unique ecosystem alive,” Ariel Wittenberg of South Coast Today writes, “Mostly found in the Deep South, Atlantic white cedars are evergreens that somewhat resemble Cyprus trees with their long, peeling, twisting bark. They typically grow in swamps located within 100 feet of the ocean and serve as an offshoot for many rare species of wildlife.”

The Atlantic white cedar is not your everyday tree. Its survival is contingent on many unique conditions, as they are usually located in swamps near the ocean. Not only are the trees themselves unique, but the wildlife that call the trees their homes. Trustees Outreach and Education Coordinator Linton Harrington says, “If you have no more Atlantic white cedars, you also lose the Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly, four-toed salamanders and many birds that rely exclusively on these trees.” If the trees go, the wildlife goes as well. Each tree is a mini-ecosystem, a collection of co-dependencies.

A few years ago, the white cedars began to die off, bullied by invasive red maple trees that stole sunlight from the cedars as if it were lunch money. Harrington and the trustees were inspired and set up a nursery to grow the rare white cedars. Presently, the group has planted 200 saplings in the swamp. Many volunteers have helped and the operation, in some ways, is a lot like an ecosystem. Harrington says, “Once you plant a tree, it’s your tree. You can visit it and watch it grow. People really become vested in nature that way.”

Thus far, the planting has been a great success. The white cedar presence is growing greater by the day. More importantly, perhaps, is that the efforts of Harrington and trustees demonstrate the unique and beautiful relationship between man and tree, a relationship to cherish and protect. If not, we will all be singing those Atlantic white cedar blues.

For more information on the story, you can find Wittenberg’s article here.


*Image courtesy of Robert H. Mohlenbrock @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS