Plants and People Project

Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana

Native Americans used the shredded outer bark and the soft wood to start fires. You may see cedar planks sold in stores for cooking. The wood gives a unique flavor to foods cooked on it.

Indians also used the fruits and leaves to make medicines. Dakotas inhaled the smoke from burned twigs for colds. Some native peoples called it the medicine tree. Indigenous Plants & Native Uses in the Northeast

The fibers in the bark of the cedar were used to make cordage.

IMPORTANT: All parts of this plant can be toxic.

Today people also prize the wood of cedar trees for aromatic linings of clothes closets and blanket chests. The cedar protects the contents from damaging moths. PA DCNR

Cedar wood is also used to make non-rotting fence posts. A row of these beautiful trees makes a great windbreak on a property.

Pencils were made from cedar for over 100 years until all the mature stands of the tree were gone.

The light blue berries of the tree are a favorite winter food of birds and other wildlife. Animals also use the trees for shelter and nesting sites to raise their young. Cedar Waxwings love the blue berries. TREES

The cedar is the host plant for Olive Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus)

Although Redcedar has a soft look, it is actually prickly feeling when you run your hand over the foliage.

In Pennsylvania, you may see the columnar cedars growing along highways and roads that run along farmers' fields. Rte 283 in Lancaster County has hundreds of cedars growing along it.

Legend of the Cedar Tree

Northern White Cedar

In 1558, it was named arborvitae, Latin for "tree-of-life," after tea prepared from the foliage and bark (now known to be high in vitamin C saved the crew of Jacques Cartier from scurvy.

The wood was preferred for canoe frames by Native Americans, who also used the shredded outer bark and the soft wood to start fires.

What tree is it? off site

Gymnosperm families off site

Identification and other facts / More facts / Further Facts

Eastern Redcedar

red cedar close up showing branches and needles

Eastern Redcedar

cedar bark

Cedar bark

Rocky Mountain Juniper

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Posted 7/17/05 Cindy O'Hora