U.P. TREE IDENTIFICATION KEY
Northern White Cedar, Other Cedars
Cupressaceae, the Cedar Family
The cedar or cypress family occurs nearly world-wide and include 15 genera and about 140 species. There are some oddballs in the cedar family. The family has scale-shaped or awl-shaped needles. Fruits are small papery cones or berry-like. In the U.P., the only common member is northern white cedar. In a few places, eastern red-cedar may be found.
WHITE CEDAR (Thuja occidentalis)
Other Names: Arborvitae, Swamp Cedar, or White-cedar
Key ID Features: Scaly needles, Cones, Bark, Habitat
Cedar is the only member of the family Cupressaceae in the U.P. Most folks will recognize cedar from its unique leaves and bark. Foliage is a series of overlapping SCALES. The SCENT is peculiar to cedar. BARK is brown and stringy, even on large trees. CONES are under a half-inch long and look more like capsules than cones. During good seed years, heavy cones crops can be mistaken for browning foliage. Cedar is one of the few trees that can reproduce by "layering". Mature cedar usually grows to 40 or 50 in HEIGHT with DIAMETERS up to 2 or 3 feet. On wet, POOR SITES, cedar will not get much taller than 25 feet and diameters will rarely exceed 5 or 6 inches. The development is often best on UPLAND SITES, especially on the limestone soils along Lake Michigan. Cedar can live to be several hundred years old, one of our longest-lived U.P. tree species. The wood is rot-resistant and, as a result, has commonly been used for fence posts, corduroy roads, and saunas. Cedar log homes are becoming increasingly popular.
Another common name for cedar is "arborvitae", the latinized form of the French phrase "l'arbre de vie". Translated, it means the "tree of life". A awful-tasting tea of cedar reportedly cured early European explorers of scurvy, perhaps, because of a high vitamin C content. Common pests: Phomoposis, deer.
Eastern Red-cedar (Juniperus
From further south and east, a SHARP-NEEDLED cedar of small size. Most common on DRY SITES. The blue berry-like FRUITS have been used to distill gin.
Creeping Juniper (Juniperus
In the wild, creeping juniper is commonly found on ROCK OUTCROPS in colonies. FRUITS are blue "berries". Occurring in parts of the U.P. from Ontario.
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)
Similar to the other junipers, it occurs widely in many places, especially old fields and sandy soils. NEEDLES tend to be in whorls of three, rather than opposite. Junipers are used for ornamentals, including a number of horticultural varieties.
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