Eastern Red Cedar
The Eastern Red Cedar is a medium size evergreen with a wide range. It is native to the eastern United States, including Oklahoma. However it has become invasive species in the grasslands of the great plains. Fire suppression has allowed eastern red cedar to encroach on grasslands. Additionally, this hardy evergreen has been used in wind breaks and for wildlife habitat. The tree spreads by seeds that are in the fleshy cones that birds eat.
Cedar is a slow growing species of tree that can tolerate a wide variety of soils, and habitats. Historically, it was confined to areas where fire did not occur, such as canyons or steep hillsides. Fire control has allowed the Eastern Redcedar to become the dominant woody invader in Oklahoma grasslands. Because of the lack of fire present the Eastern Redcedar can be observed in all stages of plant succession.
There is significant ecological and economic effects where eastern red cedar has invaded:
Reduced forage production and livestock handling
Alteration micro-climate and switch from warm season grasses to cool season grasses
Loss of native flora and fauna
Increase potential for catastrophic wildfires
Affects water availability and ground water recharge