Nature Notes

Vol. V July 1st, 1927 Summer Season. No. 1


"There are more cedars in heaven and earth, Horatis, than are dreamt of in your philosophy". Shakespeare.

One is either for or against prohibition, but can hold one of a dozen opinions on the question: "What is a cedar?"

"Cedar", in Mount Rainier National Park, means one of two trees. They are both characterized by stringy, scaly bark, and nearly flat twigs. It is hard to tell them apart, except by the cones. Even the naturalist has moments of indecision. Roughly speaking, most of the cedars at Paradise Park are Alaska Cedars, while most of those at Longmire are Western Red Cedar.

Visitors from the East and Middle-West, on being shown the latter tree, often exclaim, "That doesn't look like a red cedar". And they are perfectly correct. The red cedar of the east is a small tree, with square twigs, and has purple berries. The Western red cedar is a large tree, with flat twigs, and, for fruit, a small cone. The two are not even closely related.

In certain parts of the State of Washington, but not in the park, there grows a tree almost identical with the Eastern red cedar. "Those are the first cedars I've seen in Washington," said one man, but in Washington they are called "junipers"!

The western relative to the Eastern red cedar is called juniper. The eastern relative of the Western red cedar is the arborvitae. Nor is this the end of the confusion. The other Mount Rainier "cedar" is the Alaska cedar, which grows chiefly at the higher altitudes. We find that this tree is sometimes called "Alaska cypress". By way of fair-play, the cypresses of California are sometimes called cedars. The tree that has probably the best right to be called a cedar, the "cedar of Lebanon", does not grow in America at all.

Enough has been said to convince one that there are nine and sixty things called "cedar". This is one reason why foresters give Latin and Greek names to trees. The scientific names of some of the trees here mentioned are as follows:

Eastern Red Cedar-------Juniperus virginiana
Rocky Mountain Juniper--Juniperus scopulorum
Western Red Cedar-------Thuya plicata
Alaska Cedar------------Chamaecyparis nootkatensis

S. B. Jones, Ranger-Naturalist.

<<< Previous
> Cover <
Next >>>