Thursday, June 02, 2005

Cedar berries



Berries from an Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana).

The berries only appear on female cedar trees.

There's a fascinating detective story here about Eastern Red Cedars and disappearing bark.

Locally there's an excessive amount of cedar berries, cedar branches, and whole cedar trees on the ground, due to widescale tree butchering by power company contractors. More on that later.

17 comments:

swamp4me said...

I knew that link was to Hilton Pond before I even clicked on it! I remember reading that essay when it was first written.

We don't have very many Eastern Red Cedars out here in my part of the coastal plain, but they are quite common in the piedmont region of NC.

Pablo said...

This was an excellent link and it answered a puzzle I had out in my woods. I think I'll make a post about it now. Thanx, as always!

roger said...

the previous owners of our mini-estate covered big swatches of the place, as do lots of people hereabouts, with cedar bark mulch. unfortunately they also put down black plastic under much of it, which we are removing bit by bit. that's another story. what is on topic here is that cedar trees, western red cedar, have sprung up in many places from the mulch. after seeing what judiciuous pruning can do with cedars at butchert gardens on victoria island we are looking forward to an interesting hedge/screen by our sauna where there is quite a concentration of young cedars.

pablo said...

Also, I think that cedar berries are used to flavor gin, but not partaking of the beverage, I can't be sure of this.

Ron Sullivan said...

Pablo's right, as long as the "cedar" is, like eastern redcedar, actually a juniper. And junipers are generally a lot of fun to prune. I used to use them as an entree to people's gardens: I'd take an couple of hours, tops, to prune some poor poodle-balled grotesquerie into a decent bonsai form, and they'd think I was a magician, and then I could say, "Well, that Japanese maple there doesn't need to block the window; it can frame it..." Presto, new client.

Dread Pirate Roberts, are there any photos on-line of western redcedars pruned in the way you're talking about? I live out of range for that tree, so I haven't encountered them much and certainly not in a pruning situation. But that's probably my favorite scent in the world. I've been embarrassed, caught sniffing new fencing. (I like eastern r.c.'s scent a lot too. Very different.)

Some years back, Joe and I saw a Haida canoe and totem pole being carved in an art project in a museum on the Marin Headlands. Gorgeous, of course, and man, I wish I could've bottled the air in that shed!

Dave said...

Juniper berries are also used in brewing traditional Scandanavian ales, such as Finnish sahti. A few go a long way, in my experience.

Unfortunately, the eastern red cedar right outside my front door, in my herb garden, is a male. Even worse, it bends over nearly parallel to the ground following last winter's icestorm. I meant to tie it upright, but then some chipping sparrows decided to nest in it...

Hick said...

We have some beautiful huge Western Red Cedars on our property. The trees and the "mountain misery" (or bear clover) give this area a wonderful aroma.

Rurality said...

Swampy I think half the time I'm searching for something I come up with something at Hilton Pond. :) Some great stuff there.

Pablo, glad that helped! I thought it was cool. The cedar is actually a juniper, and gin is flavored with juniper berries (among other things), but I'm not sure which juniper is used. (I'm thinking it's a different one - Juniperus communis.)

DPR I wrestled with black plastic for a while at our old house. The previous people had used it all over the place. Maybe it works, but surely not the cheap thin one they used!

Ron I didn't know there was a difference in the scent! Hmm, Thuja plicata. I've smelled Thuja essential oil but I think that's a different species.

Dave I've noticed that cedars seem to suffer more damage from ice storms than many other trees.

Hick I haven't heard of that one! Mountain misery?!

happyandblue2 said...

That is a cool looking bush. Do animals eat the berries..

Magazine Man said...

Neat link. Ya learn something new every day.

Loved the previous snapping turtle entry (so did my son, Animal Planet Lady). I encountered one myself when I was a kid and they DO jump. Scary how fast they are. They're gonna get kicked out of the turtles' union, they keep that up.

Rurality said...

H&B they are trees rather than bushes, although they do look a little bushy when young. Birds eat the berries sometimes, but apparently they're not high on the list because there always seem to be plenty of berries. I believe Cedar Waxwings enjoy them (natch), and yellow-rumped warblers, among others.

MM I need to find one of my old snake pictures for y'all... well for your son mostly of course... of the copperhead I got up close and personal with last year.

Hick said...

Mountain misery or

Scientific Name : Chamaebatia foliolosa Benth

I don't think it grows in your neck of the woods, but it is everywhere here and it is very hard to get rid of because it spreads using an underground root system. http://www.enature.com/flashcard/show_flash_card.asp?recordNumber=TS0356

I would know I was home if someone drove me here blindfolded because of the unique smell of cedar, pine and mountain misery.

Rurality said...

Oh I get it now... sticky resin and highly flammable! That site says it smells "medicinal".

Ron Sullivan said...

Kitkitdizze! (Mountain misery) I think it's "misery" because it's a low-growing mat, woody and tangly -- it'd be hell to walk through for any distance. The scent is pleasant in moderate doses, with (IIRC) elements of Lysol and artemisia sagebrush... Do you have any sweet-Annie artemisia? In that direction, sort of.

Western redcedar is milder and sweeter, less dry or zingy than eastern, elements of sassafrass and "spice" (as the perfumers define it) in it. REI, the outdoor-gear co-op, used to sell a spray called "Cedar Ol" (with either an umlaut over or a strike through the "O") with that scent. Don't know if they still do.

Rurality said...

I don't think I've got Sweet Annie either. I probably just need to plan a trip out west. :)

Ron Sullivan said...

Oh yeah! We've got some salvia and artemisia sages that'll blow your mind. And the scent of dried California bay laurel (Umbellularia californica) leaves underfoot, mmmm. And until you've pressed your nose against a Jeffrey pine trunk, well, you gotta. Spicyvanillapineappleetc. I don't think I've blogged about the scents of the big bloom in Death Valley yet; I just wrote about it for Terrain. But it was incredibly sexy, for all that we were in a stingingly hard wind.

Of course there's sun on blue-gum eucalyptus (tomcat pee) and we can get durian in the produce markets...

Anonymous said...

Dread Pirate Roberts, are there any photos on-line of western redcedars pruned in the way you're talking about? I live out of range for that tree, so I haven't encountered them much and certainly not in a pruning situation. But that's probably my favorite scent in the world. I've been embarrassed, caught sniffing new fencing. (I like eastern r.c.'s scent a lot too. Very different.)