Even with the internet it sometimes takes a long time to find answers to questions.  While out hiking in a Wisconsin State Park I noticed something unusual.  The very ends of the branches of a cedar tree were orange and the tree was surrounded by pieces that had fallen to the ground.  This of course confused me because I had always been told the only coniferous tree to lose its needles was the Tamarack also known as the Larch. 

     I was convinced the tree I was looking at was a Cedar, sometimes called the Northern or Eastern White Cedar Tree.  I searched the internet for hours trying to deteremine what other type of tree it could be but search as I might it always came back to the cedar tree.  Finally I found some information on a website.

  …oldest foliage turns rusty red in the fall, however, it is a natural shedding of branchlets (cladoptosis) (39). 

Cladoptosis (from the Greek, clados = branch, ptosis = fall) is analogous to leaf-drop of dicotyledonous trees in the autumn. Cedar leaves are tiny, however, and it is whole branchlets that are shed. Cladoptosis occurs in a variety of trees, including Salix and Araucaria: in all, a periderm (bark layer) forms across the stem, cutting off the vascular supply.

     It’s always nice to make new discoveries.  It’s just one of the many benefits of spending time in the great outdoors with mother nature.