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Redwoods in San Gabriel Moutnains

Are there Redwoods in the San Gabriels?

I've used several tree identifiers and google searches, but they all claim Redwoods only exist in Central and Northern California.

I'm fairly good at identifying the many Pines and Cedars- it's not any of them.

So, what are those thick-barked, giant, red trunked, cone-bearing trees that pepper Buckhorn and a few other places in the San Gabriels?  I've seen them along Cooper Canyon and the North Side of Mt Wilson down into Sturtevant.

By all appearances they seem to be some kind of Redwood and I can't find anything close to it on any site of Southern California Trees except for the Incense Cedar- which I can rule out.

The best site I found for identifying trees in the area -

It is my understanding at one time redwoods ranged to the mountains in San Diego.

Logging destroyed those groves

Logging destroyed many special Places in the San Gabriel mountains.

If I remember correctly some redwoods where planted in Cooper canyon. Possibly in other places too

I know the trees you mean, in Cooper Canyon.  I was always told they were Incense Cedars, but I don't have the knowledge to confirm that.

My favorite sequoias grow on east facing slopes in the southern Sierra, where they have good water sources.  Fits with Cooper Canyon.  If you established proof, it would be super cool.  They used to be in the San Gabriels....

Re: Redwoods in San Gabriel Moutnains

briangroh wrote:
Are there Redwoods in the San Gabriels?
There are a few, but those have been planted by people.  There are no native redwoods in Southern California; neither coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) or mountain redwoods (Sequoiadendron giganteum).

The large trees near Cooper Canyon, Buckhorn, etc. are in fact Incense Cedar (Calocedrus decurrens).

Based on fossil records, there were redwoods in Southern California, but there have not been any native redwoods in Southern California in modern times.



There is a grove of redwoods in Carbon Canyon Regional Park. I recall either literature or a sign board saying that Southern California is too dry to support redwoods. The grove is irrigated by a sprinkler system.

The redwoods in Carbon Canyon Regional Park were planted in 1975 when the park opened. They followed a circuitous path to their current grove:

In 1970, a bank in Fullerton gave away Redwood seedlings as account promotional items. (Beats a toaster!) After the promotional period, approximately 600 leftover seedlings were given to Fullerton College botany students.

Two years later, the county took custody of the 600 trees in their one gallon containers and remanded them to the custody of the James Musick Jail, where they were tended by inmates. Three years later the surviving 200 trees were outgrowing their 15 gallon containers, and they were donated to the new park, where the future looked more salubrious and unencumbered.

Additional trees have been planted on subsequent Arbor Days, and the ten acre grove now numbers ca. 270 redwoods, up to 100 feet or more in height.

The riparian trail to the grove is a pleasant hike of about two miles round trip, and has a wide range of interesting flora, particularly a wide range of pharmaco-botanical surprises. Delightful birding, as well.

The grove has its own micro-climate feel-- cool, calm and quiet. A couple of picnic tables and a drinking fountain make for a nice respite for a snack while you listen to the calm.

A few years ago we watched a wildfire head toward that part of Carbon Canyon and feared the giantlings were in jeopardy. As night fell, we watched the orange glow advance unchecked. Firefighters gained control in time, and the redwoods survived, whew.

BTW, UC Irvine was also home to about 300 redwoods planted in 81-82 by a bio professor, but a large number died off due to watering issues/gopher damage. I haven't had a look at them since I've had a digital camera. The old Kodachromes reside in B & H slide cubes. Slides of additional specimens in SoCal--with the above--were taken out by Lake Hemet, but my confidence level is low in recall of location and other details, without checking. Might misguide.


There are some nice coast redwoods at Descanso Gardens.  Worth a visit.  But not native.  

Camp Radford in the San Bernardino Mtns has a grove of mountain redwoods.  Not native.  Not doing well last I checked (around 2001).

There's a single tree by the Crystal Lake visitor center as I recall.  Not native.


So I suppose the point is settled, no redwoods, yes incense cedars. But let's hear it for the incense cedars! I must say that they are no less majestic and striking, especially when you come across a particularly robust grove of them. On a trip up Middle Fork Lytle Creek in July I was really taken with some of them:


Aren't there some up on San J somewhere?

There's the biggest friggin Incense Cedar I've ever seen in Iron Fork, way upstream sorta near South Mt Hawkins I think. AW spotted it. It's too big to fit in a single photo, as it's surrounded by smaller trees. Very big.

There are coast redwoods and giant sequoias planted at nearly every picnic ground, camp ground, and ranger station in Southern California - they do not occur down here naturally.  Closest coast redwoods are just a little ways north of San Simeon.  Closest giant sequoias are near California Hot Springs, a little northeast of Bakersfield. Forum Index -> Flora & Fauna & Fungi
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