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Western red cedar found in Vancouver is one of largest trees in Canada

A giant red cedar has been discovered in North Vancouver and it’s one of the largest left of its kind.

One of the most massive and gnarly old-growth western redcedars in the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, BC is painted for falling in May 2010. Credit - TJ Watt (CC BY-SA 3.0)
One of the most massive and gnarly old-growth western redcedars in the Avatar Grove near Port Renfrew, BC is painted for falling in May 2010. Credit - TJ Watt (CC BY-SA 3.0)

A pair of big-tree hunters say they have located one of the largest trees in Canada in a remote corner of Lynn Valley in North Vancouver.

Colin Spratt and Ian Thomas say they have found an ancient Western red cedar measuring somewhere between 4.8 to 5.8  meters (15.7 to 19 feet) in diameter deep in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, making it the fourth-widest known tree in Canada, reports Richmond News.

They have dubbed the tree “The North Shore Giant” and estimate that it is likely more than 2,000 years old.

CBC News Canada is reporting that if the 5.8-meter diameter is accurate, the behemoth found in Lynn Headwaters Regional Park would barely fit inside the cabin of a Boeing 747.

The tree’s diameter at breast height (DBH) still needs to be officially verified and could end up being up to a meter less than his 5.8-meter calculation,  Thomas said, depending on how it’s measured on a rugged, steep slope.

“It came at the end of about a 10-hour bushwhack,” Thomas told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC’s On The Coast, on Monday. “I spend a lot of my time studying satellite maps and government data sets — and just slogging through these incredible, threatened ancient forests that we’re so lucky to have, some of them, here in B.C.”

Colin Spratt, a self-described ‘Tree hunter,” posted photos of the find on social media. “This cedar has been growing for easily 2000+ years,” he wrote in a post.

“My goal has been to show people that in Vancouver it’s still possible to find Canada’s largest trees still alive and growing,” he told the Daily Hive. “I’m glad to keep the dream very much alive that much bigger trees still hiding out there (waiting) to be found.”

According to University of B.C. forestry professor Robert Guy, large western red cedars host “ecosystems in most of their branches.”

“A tree of this size has to be very old,” he said. “They can get to 1,000 or 2,000 years old. We have trees on the North Shore that approach 2,000 years of age.” And because red cedars become hollow as they age, it’s often impossible to count their inner rings like other trees.

Spratt and Thomas are not releasing the precise location of the tree to the public, and they strongly discourage people from trying to track it down on their own. For those interested in seeing something similar, the Kennedy Creek cedar is located beside the Kennedy Falls Trail, an intermediate five-hour backcountry hike along the east side of Mount Fromme.

The largest recorded tree in Canada, the Cheewat Giant, is also a lot more accessible than the North Shore Giant. The Cheewat giant is more than six meters (19.7 feet) in diameter and stands more than 56 meters (184 feet) tall.

Thuja plicata is an evergreen coniferous tree in the cypress family Cupressaceae and is not a true cedar of the genus Cedrus. It is native to western North America. It is commonly called the western redcedar, western red cedar, or the Pacific redcedar.

Thuja plicata is a large, to very large tree, ranging up to 45 to 70 meters (150 to 230 ft) tall and 2.4 to 7 m (8 to 23 ft) in trunk diameter. The tree is long-lived: some trees can live well over a thousand years, with the oldest verified aged 1,460.

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