The Cedar tree family (Cupressaceae) is made up of 130 species of trees that are found throughout the world. Cedar trees grace the mountains of the Himalayas, grow along the eastern United States from Maine to Louisiana and in the Pacific Northwest into Canada, and even thrive in the countries such as Lebanon in the Middle East. The cedar tree can easily live 1500-plus years. When a cedar tree falls to the ground from a storm or disease the tree will lie there for 1000 years before it begins to decay and break down. This natural cycle allows the tree to continue to provide shelter to a wide assortment of wildlife.
History Of The Cedar Tree
Throughout history the Cedar has held a place of prominence. Thousands of years ago Alexander the Great had boats constructed from the strength of the Cedar tree. Biblical King Solomon is said to have built the Jewish temple in Jerusalem from cedar trees. The Cedar tree of Lebanon (Cedrus libani) holds great historical significance in the Middle East. The Egyptian empire logged the Cedar trees growing in Lebanon and exported them back to Egypt. Today very few of the ancient trees remain in theatregion. The majority were logged for railroad train fuel during the 1914-18 war, and throughout the remaining years many have been destroyed from ongoing warfare. The glorious trees of Lebanon are seriously threatened with extinction.
Cedar Logging In North America
Cedar trees are a valuable timber wood that is utilized in outdoor wood projects, closets and pencil construction. Western Red Cedar is commonly used for outdoor decks and outdoor furniture because it offers wonderful weather resistance, strength, bacterial and fungal-fighting properties. The Cedar tree has a natural preservative substance that prevents the wood from rotting or decaying. Its fungal and bacterial resistance also make it a popular wood to be used around hot tubs and other humid areas.
Eastern Aromatic Red Cedar
Eastern Aromatic Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) contains a substance known as thujaplicins which gives the tree its distinct odor. The aromatic wood is used in closets to prevent bug infestations. The trees are also grown as a commercial crop at Christmas tree farms across the nation.
Western Red Cedar
The Western Red Cedar is commercially managed in many parts of Europe and New Zealand where it is commonly grown and harvested for house shingles. The oil of the Cedar leaf system is used in soaps, perfumes, deodorants and shoe polish. In America the Western Red Cedar helps to feed game such as deer during the harsh winter months. Western Red Cedar trees in Washington state and British Columbia are believed to be 1460 years old.
Most Cedar tree species prefer to grow in moist soil conditions. Seedlings often thrive in partial to full shade. In the wild the trees tend to grow best in a mixed conifer forest environment. Seedling loss is often great from deer and elk consuming the shoots. Cone production begins after the trees have reached 10 years of age. The production tends to peak when the tree is around 80 years old and continue for several hundred years before a decline begins.