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Heritage cedar removed from Saluda Cottages lawn

A state champion Incense Cedar Tree thought to have stood over the Saluda Cottages leans toward the house before it was removed. [COURTESY OF HISTORIC FLAT ROCK] A state champion Incense Cedar Tree thought to have stood over the Saluda Cottages leans toward the house before it was removed. [COURTESY OF HISTORIC FLAT ROCK]

In 1981 the N.C. State Forest Service recognized the Incense Cedar Tree at Saluda Cottages in Flat Rock as the North Carolina State Champion Incense Cedar.

It held that recognition until Sept. 3, not because it was dethroned but because it had to be removed. A giant leaning tower of needles, the heritage cedar hovered ominously over the historic Saluda Cottages, which is more like a mansion than what we think of as cottages today.

The measurements in 1981 were a height of 106 feet; circumference 167 inches; and crown spread of 40 feet, Historic Flat Rock said. The tree earned a total of 283 points using the grading standard for determining a champion tree. The tree is native to Oregon and Northern California. The United States National Champion Incense Cedar, which is in California, scored 644 points.
The exact date of when the incense cedar was planted at Saluda Cottages is not known. Given the age of the house, c.1836, the best guess of the Historic Flat Rock Inc. Heritage Tree Program is that it was planted during the late 1800s. A specimen tree may have been brought to either Charleston or Savannah via ship from California.

" We will miss this beauty but the danger it posed to Saluda Cottages could no longer be ignored," Historic Flat Rock said. "It has leaned toward the house for years" and had to be removed. "Goodbye old friend."