Thursday, July 06, 2006

The White Cedar Tree

Association of Societies for Growing Australian Plants
Garden Design Study Group
Newsletter No. 52
November 2005
Leigh Murray NSW

White Cedar is ideal for car parks because of its umbrella shape. Please use local source plants, not the common plant grown that is Indian or Chinese in origin. The local plant appears to have smaller fruit, and so attractive to local birds. Importantly, the White Cedar should not be mulched around as this allows the leaf striping caterpillar to attack it. The caterpillar lives in mulch during the day and eats the leaves at night. I have watched the tree next to the Newcastle Museum and they are not mulched and the caterpillars do not seem to be able to survive to attack them (but I haven’t been in there this year, so a check wouldn’t hurt). Therefore if you grow White Cedar, have bare earth around them. They perform very well in the hot dry situation that car parks provide. Councils may worry about the fruits of the White Cedar may attract birds the will crap on the cars in the car park. However White Cedar fruits ripen when there are not leaves on the trees, which means the birds don’t hang around the trees but eat their fill and go and sit somewhere safer. Also the fruit are rather large, so the birds can’t eat many anyway, and have to move on. The tree is using the old gambit “don’t put your fruits all in the one bird” as that bird may get eaten and they never know where the seeds will end up!

By Ruth Crosson

This method was tried by past member Dawn, who said it was successful. Tie a piece of Hessian sack around the trunk of the White Cedar; turn down the collar using the top portion of the sack. Caterpillars crawl up the trunk, getting under the collar and can’t proceed, being trapped. Every morning Dawn would squash the Hessian collar, and so kill the caterpillars. Caterpillars need to eat, like every thing else. They are also part of the food chain and in turn feed birds that visit the trees by day and nocturnal animals which are also protein feeders, eating caterpillars and insects. Possums in your garden are a natural control, they may eat your roses and fruit, but they also eliminate other pests. Butterflies and moths are pollinators, No pollination no seeds. No seeds no trees, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, birds, nocturnal animals, lizards and frogs. The trees and foliage are dependent upon your actions; think before you load up your garden sprayer with poisons, you could be destroying a lot more than you think.