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Eastern Redcedar

Eastern Redcedar

Eastern redcedar is a juniper tree in the Cupressaceae family found in prairies when fire is excluded from the landscape. It produces violet-colored cones, which look like berries. Songbirds and other wildlife species consume the cones. After consuming and processing the cones, which contain the seeds, the birds will perch on fences, high lines and other trees, defecating the viable seeds. This is the reason why there are a large number of eastern redcedar trees along fence rows.

Many wildlife species and cattle use the dense tree for cover. Some wildlife species eat the ends of the branches. People use the sturdy wood for fence posts and to build houses. It has a strong scent that repels insects. People also plant them for wind and snow breaks in very flat landscapes.

Native Americans made medicines from eastern redcedar that cured mouth sores, head colds, coughs, kidney problems, nervous problems and other ailments.

Although Eastern redcedar is native to canyons and rock outcroppings, it can invade other plant communities very quickly. If prescribed burning is not conducted in prairies, eastern redcedar has a good chance of invading it and turning it into more of a woodland or shrubland ecosystem. This can significantly reduce the native grassland bird population. Raptors use the trees as perches, and predate on native grassland birds and other small mammals. Eastern redcedar trees also use a significant amount of water, this effects other plant species along with cattle and wildlife.