Related Stewardship Plans: Cedar Glade

A “Cedar Glade,” also called an “Eastern Red-cedar Thicket,” is an ecosystem dominated by Eastern Red-cedar (Juniperus virginiana) trees. Although many new Cedar Glades have sprung up due to fire suppression (Red-cedars are very fire intolerant), they did occur naturally in places with rugged, rocky terrain, such as in the Driftless Area of the upper Midwest.

Cedar Glades are generally pure stands of Red-cedars with dry-prairie vegetation growing in sunny openings. Hardwoods like Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa) that can handle the difficult soil conditions characteristic of a Cedar Glade may grow among the Red-cedars. Because Red-cedars retain their dense needles throughout the year, little sun reaches the ground underneath them, and few plants grow.

Because of the aggressive tendencies of Red-cedars, the Wisconsin DNR suggests the following management plan for Cedar Glades: “It is worth treating the red-cedar thickets/glades as an assemblage of species with specific geologic and edaphic attributes worthy of maintenance at sites that were protected from fire by topography or the distribution of water and wetlands or where a flammable substrate is lacking. Elsewhere, for example, where prairies or savannas are being invaded by eastern red-cedar, it can and should be treated as other encroaching woody vegetation is.” In the case of the Cedar Glade at Prairie Oaks, it is not a pre-existing thicket. Rather, the Red-cedars were planted as a privacy screen, and new efforts are now being undertaken to bring it closer to the species composition of natural Cedar Glades.

With the plentiful berry-like cones of Red-cedars and the thick cover they generate, Cedar Glades offer a uniquely valuable bird habitat, especially with the presence of other native plants. For example, Cedar Waxwings are named after their affinity for the cones of Red-cedars.

Associated Trees: Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata), ☆ Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Basswood (Tilia americana), White Oak (Quercus alba), Bur Oak (Q. macrocarpa), Black Oak (Q. velutina)

Associated Shrubs: Gray Dogwood (Cornus racemosa), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), Currants (Ribes spp.), Fragrant Sumac (Rhus aromatica), Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

Associated Grasses: Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi), Side-Oats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula), Hairy Grama (Bouteloua hirsuta), Poverty Oat Grass (Danthonia spicata)

Associated Forbs: Lead Plant (Amorpha canescens), Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis), Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia), Perplexing Tick Trefoil (Desmodium perplexum), Flowering Spurge (Euphorbia corollata), Stiff Sandwort (Minuartia michauxii), Eastern Prickly-Pear Cactus (Opuntia humifusa), Gray Goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis), Spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis)