The Medicines: Cedar

Cultural Uses

Like many traditional medicines, Cedar is used to purify the home. Cedar branches are used in many ceremonies as a form of protection. In sweat lodges, cedar branches cover the floor. The branches also circle a faster’s lodge to keep him or her sage. Another way in which cedar is used in the bath. Cedar baths are very healing.

Cedar trees support over 40 wildlife species, so growing these trees will be beneficial to the ecosystem. It also provides shelter to many animals during the cold winter months, as it is one of the few trees to remain leafy during this season. While often used to purify the home, cedar also has many valuable medicinal properties. Cedar baths are used widely for healing and cleansing purposes. When cedar is put in the fire with tobacco, it crackles. It is said that this cracking is the sound of cedar calling the attention of the spirits to the offering that is being made. Cedar is also widely used in fasting and sweat lodge ceremonies as a form of protection. Cedar branches cover the floor of the sweat lodge and a circle of cedar surrounds the faster’s lodge. Many people also use cedar to purify their homes.

Potential Damage

A tree’s root system can also cause considerable damage to underground features. Therefore, cedar trees should not be planted over septic drain fields (roots may cause clogging), buried pipes or cables. Areas subject to flooding for more than two continuous weeks per year should not be used to grow cedars as flooding may be harmful to the trees.

Grasses, ferns and weeds can not only rob your seedling of valuable moisture, nutrients and sunlight, but also harbour insects and diseases that will have an effect on survival. It will be necessary to remove this vegetation from around the young seedling occasionally. Pull it out by hand without disturbing the root system of the young cedar seedling. Do not use herbicides.

Initial Steps of Planting

Plant Cedar trees at least 92 cms/3ft away from water’s edge, further if possible. Use common sense when you are planting, plant cedar where you would want them to grow into large trees. Cedars require sunlight, but will still grow in the shade, albeit, somewhat slower.

Use care with the roots. Do not let them dry out or disturb them any more than you have to. Keep the roots completely submerged in a bucket of water while you are planting. Do not keep a bundle of seedlings in your hand while looking for the next spot to plant a tree.

Cedar can withstand many types of soil, including alkaline, acid, moist and dry. Simply make sure to use well-drained soil. Plant seeds or seedlings in 15-20 cm/6-8 inch diameter holes. Spacing should be at least 1.5 m/5 ft apart. If you are transplanting seedlings, carefully place the roots pointing downward in to the hole and fill it with soil. Compact the soil tightly around the roots.