Trees of the Rain Forest

The Quinalt River valley and rain forest is home to some of the world’s largest trees. Some of them are the biggest trees outside of California where the Coast and Giant Sequoias grow. In this one valley are 6 of the largest trees, either in Washington State or in the whole world for some species. These include the Western Red Cedar, the Sitka Spruce, the Yellow Cedar, the Mountain and Western Hemlocks and the Douglas Fir.

In the first picture here you can see the world’s largest spruce tree. It’s a Sitka Spruce, or Picea sitchensis, as the sign tells and is absolutely huge. I tried to get as much of it in the picture as possible but it’s just too tall. It’s located just a short walk from the Ranger Station and the Quinalt Lodge in the heart of the river valley so it’s an easy one to get to and marvel at.

The next picture is of the world’s largest Western Red Cedar, Thuja plicata. We didn’t even try to shoot the top of this because the forest was too dense to see it but you can tell it’s a giant from the size of this trunk. It’s so ancient feeling. I’m not sure how old it is but it’s 174 feet tall and has a circumference of 63 feet. It’s on the north side of the lake and took some hard hiking to get to, as it was very wet when we took this shot last year. But it was worth the climb… The shot after that shows a large cedar from the top down. It’s not a record breaker but it’s still large and gives you an idea of how they grow.

The next shot is an unusual one and one we never thought we’d see. It’s in a subdivision near the ocean and is a Dougls Fir trunk that is estimated to have been 1000 years old when it was cut down at the turn of the last century. That’s the 20th century btw… so it was cut in the late 1800’s or early 1900’s. They plan to hollow it out and cover over the inside to make it a tree house and a history lesson for the people who see it. It should be amazing to see when it’s done.

If you look closely at the left side you can see notches cut into the trunk. This is how they cut down these giants. They cut chunks out and hammered in planks which they stood on to saw thru the trunk many feet in the air as the bole of the tree was too wide to cut otherwise and was useless lumber. There are huge stands of these stumps all over the West in forests that have been logged. It’s am ingenious way to cut them down, tho personally I can’t understand the mind of a person who would dare to cut down an ancient being like this tree was. As I said in my last post I’m against logging old growth forests wherever they are. It’s too late for this one but there are many others that need protection.

Next is the trunk of a large Douglas Fir, Pseudotsuga menziesii. Not a record breaker, still the largest one in the world is located in the park near where we hiked. It was too far to make it to it so here are its stats. It’s 302 feet tall and 40 feet around. Huge isn’t the word for it I guess. It’s massive. It’s a tie with one somewhere else I don’t know where, but it may be in British Columbia which also has some huge trees. I took a picture of the trunk close up and then looking up into this tree. The next shot is of the Fir gracing the lawn at the edge of the lake near the Lodge. It shows how a Fir can grow when it’s not surrounded by other trees. Pretty nice, eh?

Next is a Western Hemlock. The largest one of this in the US is here in the Park too. It’s pretty isolated so we couldn’t see it but I wanted to give an idea of how they grow. The biggest one is 172 feet tall and 27 feet around. Not as big as the firs but still large. The Mountain Hemlock isn’t pictured here, but the largest in the world is in a far away part of the park also. It’s some 152 feet tall and only 6 feet in diameter. They stay skinny, which is why I can grow one in my garden…

The final Big Tree in the famous 6 is a Yellow Cedar, which is neither particularly yellow nor a cedar but that’s what they call it. It’s a Chamaecyparis nootkatnensis and is on the north side of the lake. Too far to hike to. It’s “only” 129 feet tall and 37 feet in circumference. It grows from Oregon up into Alaska and is often called Alaska Cedar tho it’s a False Cypress by botanical name. I understand it’s name is in confusion now tho and may have a new genera name soon. We’ll see…

Here are a few of these trees all growing together in one place. In one you can see 4 of these big trees and in the other who can tell? I sure can’t from the picture tho I could at the site. I should have written it down I guess. These show how dense the forest is in the rain forest. Remember that this area gets around 12 Feet of rain a year on average, which means some years they get more! Amazing….

Here’s a large Red Alder, Alnus rubra. Not a giant at all but still quite nice. These cover huge tracts of land in the West and also fix nitrogen in the soil so they improve the soil where they often are one of the first things to come in after a clear cut or fire. Next is a Vine Maple, Acer circinatum, a large one at the base of a large cedar. These are also all over the rain forest and grow sorta like a Japanese maple. I have one I just planted in my garden too. The next is a simple shot of a Shore pine, Pinus contorta, which covers vast areas of the coastline all along the way from Oregon up to Washington and further north to BC. This is in someone’s garden in Moclips but it was a nice specimen I wanted to show you as its covers so much of the forest.

The last 4 shots are of trees that some human planted back in the day when the Lodge was first built in 1937 or so. I’m not sure just when they planted these there after that but I assume it was soon so figure these are only 75 years old or so and they are huge trees already. The first is of trunks of a few Coast Redwood that are probably 8 feet across and 0ver 100 feet tall, right out front of the Lodge. There are many more in back.

The next shot is of the Cryptomeria japonica that I have many cultivars of in my garden. This is the species and must be 80 feet tall or more. I’m not great at judging heights…  These have large trunks also and this is a clump of 5 trees you’re seeing here. I was surprised to be able to see this particular tree in the park. I didn’t know it was used so long ago in cultivation in such a place, but that just makes it more interesting to me…

The next is a large specimen of a Cryptomeria japonica elegans, which I also have in my yard. I’ve never seen one this big and was amazed that it actually gets this tall and wide. All the books say so but seeing is believing and it’s different in person. This is in someone’s front yard and I was thrilled to see it as we drove by and made Louie turn around so I could get a shot of it. I’m glad I did as it reminds me of mine as it grows.

Finally is something I’m assuming is an Atlas Cedar. A true cedar, Cedrus atlantica, not the Western cedar which is actually an arborvitae, or Thuja. This tree must have been planted here too and it’s probably 80 or 90 feet tall. I’m not 100% certain of my identification but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. It’s native to the Atlas mountains in N. Africa and elsewhere in the mid east. Related to the Deodar and Lebanese Cedars, all Cedrus species.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of the Big Trees of the Rain Forest. I’m so amazed that in this one little valley there could be all these huge trees. Obviously the rainfall is something they all love and the deep rich soil of the Olympic mountains feeds them well so they can reach record proportions. I feel lucky to have seen the ones I saw and hope that maybe we’ll hike in to see some of the others some time, tho as I get older that seems less likely. Hiking is hard work… 😉

Lovin’ the Big Trees,

Steve

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18 responses to this post.

  1. I need to visit the North West soon!

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    • I hope you can. It’s very beautiful and quite unique. I need to visit North Carolina again myself. I was there once but it was a short stop and I’d love to come back again. Your gardening efforts are enticing me.. 😉 There are so many beautiful parts of this country aren’t there?
      Steve

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  2. What beautiful great beings these trees are. Thanks for the walkaround

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’m truly amazed at the grandeur of these trees. They’re like a temple to me as I wander amongst them. Wonderful…
      peace,
      Steve

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  3. Steve, the pictures are so awesome, I can’t even imagine seeing these trees for real. Outstanding. The stories these trees could tell! 🙂 I realized the redwood got really large but had no idea all of these evergreens could grow to this size. It sure is heartwarming to see that some of these majestic trees have been protected. We used to have some giants here in the Smokies, but the mountains were logged so heavy, there are very few left. Even after it was declared a national park, they illegally kept harvesting the trees. sigh. I’m with you 100 percent on protecting our old forest. Thank goodness we have national parks or I’m sure these mountains would be bare. Also, I think I read somewhere that the settlers used to hollow out the base of huge chestnuts for temporary shelter, l before they would build a cabin and then cut the tree down later. Hard to imagine these chestnuts being that big. Sad they didn’t spare the oldest trees.

    It is so neat that you have some of the same species growing in your garden…..thanks for sharing the pics and the stores and descriptions of the trees. Really enjoyed reading this!

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    • I think you’d love a visit to the west coast to see these trees. They really are amazing. I grew up with the giant sequoias nearby so I”m used to huge trees but I still marvel at how big they can get. I could never cut one down, but I did work on a crew building logging roads once in virgin Sugar Pine forest and it almost killed me to be witness and aid to cutting down some of these ancient beings. It really messed with my energy and spirit bad. Since then I only plant trees, I rarely cut them down, tho I have when necessary. I wish I could have seen the forests on the east coast when they were in their prime There are still some big trees there I hear, like the Tulip Tree and the Sweetgum that get quite large, but not like these conifers. They’re in a class all their own. I hope we can save more of them for future generations to view and marvel at. I’m glad you enjoyed this post and I thank you for visiting me.
      Take good care, Annie. 😉
      peace,
      Steve

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  4. Posted by The Editors of Garden Variety on March 22, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Beautiful trees and awesome photos!

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  5. […] tree and some of the other large trees of the rain forest area in this valley we went to. See: https://gardeningingreenwood.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/trees-of-the-rain-forest/ for more information on the specifics of these amazing trees and how many of them are in this […]

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  6. Beautiful trees + great photos:-) Your love for trees shines through this post-great post + an education for me:-) I don’ t have that many trees on my lot/get out in nature as I should to discover these majestic beings:-)

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    • I”m so glad you liked the photos and trees. The trees are just amazing, and we’re lucky to live so close to them. Even here in Seattle we still have some Old Growth forest in some city parks, one just a mile from our home. We try to go walk there when we can. Being with these majestic beings is like being in a temple to me. I love them, you’re right! And I can see that you do too… 😉
      Cheers, Robbie!
      Steve

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      • They are majestic + you are so right, it is like walking into a temple:-) I just got back from visiting my parents up north + they live in a natural area which is the highest point of our state with hiking, trees, and natural area…just sitting in looking at their woods out back and all around is so relaxing and refreashing:-)

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        • That’s great you were able to visit your folks and be in their natural area. It’s sounds like it was really a good thing for you to do. It’s so wonderful to get out in Nature. It’s so healing in the forests. Glad you enjoyed yourself. 😉
          peace,
          Steve

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  7. This is a most informative post providing loads of useful data on these
    magnificent trees! great blog!!
    Thanks for subscribing to me and allowing me the opportunity to become more informed on nature’s beauty! Eddie

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    • Thank you for your kind words Eddie. I’m glad you found this post to be useful to you. I’ve really been enjoying your blog as well. You teach me a lot about Nature yourself! 😉
      Peace,
      Steve

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  8. Absolutely loved it! Thank you so much for this tour–it’s the next best thing after going to see it in person. Great pictures too! XXOO 🙂

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    • I’m so glad you liked it. I’m totally amazed by these trees, and being among them was wonderful. I hope you get the chance to see them someday. 🙂
      peace,
      Steve

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  9. BEAUTIFUL IMAGES–SKY–SINCERELY ANDREA:)

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