Vol. 21 Issue 3, Fall 2016
By Brian Balik
The Eastern Red Cedar is one of the most outstanding trees in Loudoun County, especially in winter. It is a type of juniper and stays green throughout the whole year. It is a beautiful species, and one that is critical to the survival of some of Virginia’s wildlife species.
The Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) feasts on the red cedar’s berries, which are actually a type of cone. Other birds, including grosbeaks, may eat these cones. A butterfly called the Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) also takes advantage of eating the red cedar. This cedar is a host of the butterfly’s caterpillars, and provides nutrition. Although it is seldom seen in Loudoun County, the Juniper Hairstreak butterfly has been found here, meaning that our red cedars are especially important.
The Eastern Red Cedar is commonly planted on the edges of farm fields and in between athletic recreation fields in Loudoun County. This is because the tree provides an incredible windbreak and is very hardy, which many animals take advantage of. Squirrels and songbirds will sit in the branches of the cedar, knowing that they are protected from wind and predators with the thick cover the tree provides.
When a farm field grows “back to nature” and is left alone for a long time, the red cedar may be one of the first prominent tree species that grows to adulthood. The grasses and shrubs of an overgrown field give way to the red cedar trees, making them outstanding within it, to both people and wildlife in Loudoun County.
Did you know?
- In the Cherokee legend, cedar trees hold the spirits of ancestors and the wood carries powerful protective spirits.
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is named after Eastern Red Cedars for the “Red Stick” cedar heartwood poles used by local Native Americans to demark boundaries between area tribes.
- Cedar oils are used in a majority of perfumes made around the world. Some well-known perfumes included on the list are Obsession, Halston, Knowing, White Linen, Chanel No. 5, Giorgio, Lauren and Poison. Many male fragrances also use red cedar oils, including English Leather, Old Spice, Chaz and Stetson.