Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Tuesday's Trees- Juniperus virginiana
As I prepared to do my posting on the Eastern Redcedar I started in the Learning Garden. I knew we had a few specimen labeled. As I feel I am still a beginner in the tree ID department, I find it beneficial starting with the known. Here starts my trip down the rabbit hole. I took my photos and came home to do more research. Using my reference books I started reading and learning about this tree.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the reference to scale like needles……this isn't scale like! Oh no, what was the tree in the Learning Garden? Was it really a Juniperus virginiana? I looked at the Redcedars on my street. One of these trees had scale like needles….so was this an Eastern Redcedar? The more I read and looked closely the more confused I got.
I enlisted Carol while we were in the Learning Garden to look at the labeled tree and then another tree that was close to our Bearded Hedgehog. We investigated both trees (of course they are at opposite ends of the garden) and decided we needed to go over to the Cooperative Extension Office. Using the library in the office we continued to be confused. At one point we thought we had an Eastern Redcedar sample and a Southern Redcedar sample. Finally we read on the Virginia Tech website the following sentence- "Leaf: Evergreen, very small, with two types of leaves (often on the same tree)," The same tree!!! We were looking at the different leaves and getting more and more confused and now we see it is a tree that has two types of leaves. Mystery solved….sort of. What about the Southern Redcedar?
It wasn't until my continued reading online last night that I further learned that the two Redcedars are not always separated, this according to the Forestry Department publication. Additionally Oregon State publication says J. virginiana hybridizes with other junipers. So, like some of the oaks, what we are looking at could be a hybrid. Duke states that there is a debate whether Southern Redcedar, Juniperus silicicola is recognized as a variety of Eastern Redcedar or a full species.
The Eastern Redcedar is a native to North America. It can be found in every state east of the Mississippi River. It can tolerate a wide range of soils and is salt tolerant. The tree is dioecious and is said to reach its sexual maturity in about 10 years. The female tree has the beautiful blue berries. This is a great source of food and shelter for many birds and animals in the woods. The seeds are readily deposited by birds. This tree is hardy from zones 2- 9. It grows on a single trunk to about 50 feet tall, though there are reports of specimen reaching close to 100 feet. It is broad columnar in shape. The bark is quite attractive, rusty brown and looks shredded.
Uses of the Redcedar are varied. The wood is used commercially because of its beauty. The oil of the cedar wood is used for fragrance compounds. The tree is used for Christmas trees. The berries are used in the making of gin. I use a German cousin to the Juniperus virginiana to make my Sauerbraten, Sauerkraut and other German dishes.
Pests on this tree most often noted are the bagworm caterpillars. This can be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis or handpicked. It is recommended that it not be planted near apple trees as the cedar-apple rust can damage the apple crop.
Discover Life- wonderful photos showing detail of J. virginiana
Next week's tree- China-fir