Use: Pollinator tree that attracts butterflies and birds
Native to: Jefferson County
The Eastern Red Cedar is a native tree to Jefferson County, and is found throughout the eastern United States. The tree typically grows on shallow, rocky, and dry areas and is known to be on hillsides and former strip-mined ground. The Eastern Red Cedar is a tightly grown tree and grows in an almost columnar style (straight up and pencil–thin). The trunks are often fluted at the base and the wood is very aromatic often used for cedar chests and closets. The tree is dioecious (separate male and female trees) with female trees producing small gray berry-like cones.
The tree is known for its great wildlife habitat. The berry-like cones are an integral part of the diet of many birds and mammals as they are high in crude fat, fiber, carbohydrates, and calcium. The Cedar waxwing’s name is derived from its appetite for cedar berries in the winter, during which time the conifer becomes a cornucopia of life-sustaining nourishment as most other food sources are unavailable. The Eastern Red Cedar is a host plant of 31 different species of butterflies and moths, among which is the Olive hairstreak and Imperial moth.
The eastern red cedar has a prominent role in Jefferson County from the tree being a marker for many surveys throughout the county to the groves of the trees being a source of refuge to many of the early settlers in the area. The Mingo tribes used the eastern red cedar as a source of medicine. The tree was a such a noteworthy piece of the landscape that a small hamlet in Smithfield Township being named Cedar Grove. John and William Bartram sold the Eastern Red Cedar with great regularity. The homes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Andrew Jackson all had Eastern Red Cedars prominently displayed. The poet Edward Abbey wrote: If my decomposing carcass helps/nourish the roots of a juniper tree…/-that is immortality enough for me.
The Eastern Red Cedar is a dioecious species with separate male and female plants. The trees offered in the Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District Native Tree Sale are unsexed trees, so it is recommended to buy multiple trees.■