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Eastern Red Cedar

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Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

Favored for fragrance and flavor French Acadians, deported from Nova Scotia by the British in 1755 to what is now Louisiana, found a familiar softwood growing in their new land. For its red bark and red wood, they called it baton rouge, meaning "red stick," the name the French settlers adopted for their capital city. Eastern red cedar, the "red stick" of the Acadians, belongs to the juniper family of conifers, one of the oldest on earth. Ancient Egyptians used a juniper to make chariot wheels in 1300 B.C. And the Dutch, who first distilled gin in the 17th century, flavored their concoction with juniper berries, a practice that continues today. Juniper leaves and twigs also furnish a fragrant oil for medicines and perfume. But moths and buffalo beetles find juniper's sweet smell highly repugnant. That's why eastern red cedar; made into chests and closet linings, has been prized for protecting woolens since colonial times. When large stands of large trees were abundant, eastern red cedar was used for lead pencils because it shaves so nicely. Now, an African cedar has replaced it as pencil wood, and woodworkers make use of knottier; narrower boards.


Continued on page 2:  Wood identification


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