Botany

Cedar Trees Identification and uses



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Cedars are very popular ornamental trees. You likely have one or two growing in your very own backyard. As you may already know, Cedar trees are not a single species, as there are many different species of Cedars that thrive throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Many Cedars are endemic to North America, and are often used to complement garden landscapes. In the past, Native peoples of North America used Cedars both for nourishment and medicinal purposes.

Range:
Temperate regions where winter temperatures do not fall below about -25 C.

Description/ Identification:
Coniferous, evergreen trees. The official tree of British Columbia, Western Red Cedar is one of the West Coast giants. Growing to heights of 60m and diameters of 5 meters, and living 800 years or more, this is one of the world's most impressive trees.

(See Photo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pseudotsuga_menziesii_28278.JPG)

Food Uses:
Dried inner bark can be ground into a nutritious meal during times of lack of food. The small seeds were also eaten. Sometimes on hot, sunny days, when photosynthesis and root pressure are high, and transpiration is slow, crystals of sugar form at the tips of needles and around branches. This rare treat was occasionally eaten raw or collected for future use in sweetening foods.

Medicinal uses:
The bough tea, sweetened with honey, was used to cure diarrhoea, coughs, colds and sore throats. Alcoholic extracts of the western red cedar were said to cure fungal infections such as athlete's foot.

Other Uses:
In the past, First Nations peoples considered this tree to be a tree of life. It was used to make canoes, clothing form the bark, baskets from the roots, totem poles, and cooking boxes.

The good quality wood is used for many applications today, including shingles, furniture, fencing and carvings. These architectural and building uses make cedar a common tree harvested for lumber.

Precautions:
Warnings
Cedar resin can cause skin irritations and reactions in some people. Evergreen teas and fir needles should be taken in moderation. Pregnant women and people with kidney disorder should not take cedar tea. Cedar oil can cause low blood pressure, convulsions and even death. Remember that this article is no way is intended to offer medical advice; it is merely an interesting resource for those who would like to become more familiar with some useful plants. Cedar resin can cause skin irritations and reactions in some people. Evergreen teas and fir needles should be taken in moderation. Pregnant women and people with kidney disorder should not take cedar tea. Cedar oil can cause low blood pressure, convulsions and even death.

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