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Thursday, April 30, 2015

A hardy Sargent

So I can't talk about "The Cedars" without highlighting the tree for which the area has been named.

It was so much fun to spend some time with Sargent Cypress (Hesperocyparis sargentii).  I was impressed with its ability to grow in such harsh conditions.

I also appreciated this insight into its habitat: "Sargent Cypress often grows near redwood in the more mesic bottoms of ravines or on open slopes of the inner Coast Range where fog is nearly continuous."

Recently, I was trying to describe to some friends how much I liked seeing the Sargent Cypress bark.  Although it's not in the same genus, somehow it reminded me of the bark of Atlantic White Cedar from the East Coast.  I hadn't realized how much I missed seeing those long, fibrous furrows and the patterns they make as they wrap around the trunk.

Sargent Cypress has a limited geographic distribution from southern Oregon to Santa Barbara County.  If you want to see some locally and can't get to The Cedars, click here for other locations in Sonoma County.

I was curious how Sargent Cypress got its name.  It took me a little while, but eventually I found out.  It was a fun story for me to learn about because there's a New England connection!

Jepson named this tree after Charles Sprague Sargent, the first director of the Arnold Arboretum (of Harvard University) in Boston.  Charles Sprague Sargent was born in 1841, grew up in Brookline, MA (my family has a few connections there), was appointed director of the Arnold Arboretum in 1873 and served as director until his death in 1927.  I did the math he became director when he was 32 years old and served as director for 54 years until he was 86 years old!

Jepson seems to have made a good choice he named a hardy tree after a hardy man!

P.S.  Habitat information above from "Cypress Species in Oregon" by Frank Callahan in Kalmiopsis, Vol. 20, 2013.  Biographical information about Charles Sprague Sargent from Wikipedia and the Arnold Arboretum website.


Roger Raiche said...

Thanks for you great photos from The Cedars and it was especially interesting for me to see the article referenced by Frank Callahan (though I think his use of the terms Inner Coast Ranges and Outer C.R. is the opposite of how The Jepson Manual uses them.)Thanks again. Roger Raiche

Jackie Sones said...

Roger! Thank you so much for picking up on that difference in terminology (between The Jepson Manual and Callahan's article). I should have been more attentive. Being new to California, I'm still getting used to various geographic descriptors. To me, this is a good example of the risk involved of using "inner" and "outer," as they may be interpreted differently by different observers. (I've run into this problem myself in writing field notes relative to the coast.) In retrospect, perhaps descriptors other than inner/outer, that aren't as subjective, would have been better choices to distinguish the coast ranges? Although I'll admit I won't offer an alternative suggestion at the moment. :)