Eastern Red Cedar
This is a dense tree ordinarily 16–66’ tall with a short trunk. Small berry-like seed cones have fleshy scales and a white wax cover giving them a sky-blue color. They are a winter food for many birds and mammals. The aromatic, rot resistance wood is used for fence posts and as lining for cedar chests and closets. The cones are used to flavor gin and as a kidney medicine.
Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red-cedar, Red Cedar, Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper, Pencil Cedar) is a species of juniper native to eastern North America from southeastern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and east of the Great Plains. Although it is a juniper, not a true cedar, it is commonly called "cedar" or "red cedar".
Juniperus virginiana is a dense slow-growing tree that may never become more than a bush on poor soil, but is ordinarily from 16–66 ft (rarely to 89 ft) tall, with a short trunk 12–39 in (rarely 67 in) diameter. The oldest tree reported, from Missouri, was 795 years old.
The bark is reddish-brown, fibrous, and peels off in narrow strips. The leaves are of two types; sharp, spreading needle-like juvenile leaves 2.0–3.9 in long, and tightly pressed scale-like adult leaves 0.079–0.16 in long. The juvenile leaves are found on young plants up to 3 years old, and as scattered shoots on adult trees, usually in shade.
Cedar waxwings are fond of the berries of these junipers. It takes about 12 minutes for their seeds to pass through the birds' guts, and seeds that have been consumed by this bird have levels of germination roughly three times higher than those of seeds the birds did not eat. Many other birds (from bluebirds to turkeys) and many mammals also enjoy these berries.>
The fine-grained, soft brittle pinkish- to brownish-red heartwood is fragrant, very light and very durable, even in contact with soil. Because of its rot resistance, the wood is used for fence posts. The aromatic wood is avoided by moths, so it is in demand as lining for clothes chests and closets, often referred to as cedar closets and cedar chests. If correctly prepared, it makes excellent English longbows, flatbows, and Native American sinew-backed bows. The wood is marketed as "eastern redcedar" or "aromatic cedar". The best portions of the heartwood are one of the few woods good for making pencils, but the supply had diminished sufficiently by the 1940s that it was largely replaced by incense-cedar.
Juniper oil is distilled from the wood, twigs and leaves. The cones are used to flavor gin and as a kidney medicine.
Native American tribes used juniper wood poles to mark out agreed tribal hunting territories. French traders named Baton Rouge, Louisiana (meaning "red stick") from the reddish color of these.
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