Florida Forestry Information
Cupressaceae
The Cedar Family
 
The cedar family comprises 15 genera with about 130 species of trees and shrubs distributed both north and south of the equator.  In North America, 5 genera and 26 species of this family exist.  2 of these are native to Florida. 
 
 Click on the links below for introductions to some of the trees of this family:
 
Atlantic whitecedar
Eastern redcedar
 
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Chamaecyparis thyoides 
Atlantic whitecedar 
 
Habit 

The Atlantic whitecedar is a tree, seldom reaching more than 60-80 feet in height and 10-15 inches in diameter.  In dense stands, the bole is often clear of branches for about 3/4 of it's length.  The crown is usually small, narrow, and conical with slender limbs and graceful branchlets.  The root system is shallow and spreading. 

Atlantic whitecedar, photo by Julie Anne Ferguson DemersLeaves 

Leaves are scale-like, 1/16-1/8 long, blue-green in color.  The leaves turn brown in their second year but persist for many seasons.  The foliage sprays are flattened and fan-like. 

Flowers 
 
The flowers are monoecious. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are about 1/4 inch in diameter, fleshy, bluish or purplish at maturity, and are covered with a waxy bloom.  There are usually 1 or 2 seeds on each scale, each being 1/8 inch long with lateral wings. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are light green and tinged with red at first, becoming reddish-brown to dark brown. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, ash gray to reddish-brown, and divided by narrow fissures into flat ridges. 
 
Habitat 

The Atlantic whitecedar is largely restricted to wet sites including fresh-water swamps, bogs, stream banks, and bottomlands.  It forms pure stands or is associated with baldcypress, sweet bay, slash pine, spruce pine, black tupelo, perseas, and red maple.  It grows on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain from southern Maine to eastern Louisiana. 
 
Use 

This tree has been an important timber tree since the early development of cities along the Atlantic seaboard.  Large quantities of the wood from Atlantic whitecedar were also used for charcoal and in the manufacture of gunpowder.  This wood is suitable for many purposes, including piling, boat construction, shingles, crossties, poles, and posts. 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 
 
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Juniperus virginiana 
eastern redcedar 
 
Habit 

The eastern redcedar is a tree, 40-50 feet in height and 1-2 feet in diameter.  It has a dense, narrow, pyramidal crown.  The bole is notably tapered and the root system is deep. 
 
Leaves 

On old trees, leaves are scale-like, 1/16 long, and dark green in color.  On young trees, the leaves are awl-shaped, light green, sharply pointed, and the upper surface is silvery-white.  Both types usually turn brown in their second winter but persist for several years. 
 
Flowers 
 
The flowers are dioecious. 
 
Fruit 
 
The cones are about 1/4-1/3 inch in diameter, berry-like, dark blue at maturity,  and are covered with a light bluish-gray waxy bloom.  The seeds are about 1/6 inch long, sharp pointed, and wingless. 
 
Twigs 

The twigs are angled and reddish-brown. 
 
Bark 

The bark is thin, fibrous, light reddish-brown, and separating into long, narrow, fringed scales or strips. 
 
Habitat 

The eastern redcedar is found on a variety of soils, but it grows best on light soils of limestone origin.  It occurs abundantly on dry, shallow, rocky soils.  It can also be found mixed with hardwoods.  It grows all over the eastern United States and southern Ontario. 
 
Use 

The heartwood is used for closet linings, wardrobes, and chests because of its moth-repellent properties.  This species used to be the principal wood used in the manufacture of pencils.  Quantities of this species are used in paneling construction, millwork, woodenware, poles, posts, and novelties.  Many varieties of this tree are used in landscaping. 
 
 

Click on the link below to see more information on and/or images of this tree (use the "Back" function to return here):
 
Query the USDA Plant Database
 

 
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