Driving down a two-lane byway South of Wasola, MO last week I noticed a cedar tree perched high up on a rocky ledge. He looked to be balancing on one root and any sudden wind would have sent him toppling into the road and ditch below. But, I don’t believe he will fall to his demise anytime soon, if ever. It seems that cedar trees not only do well in those precarious situations, but they thrive.
A staple of the Missouri scenery, I don’t think enough credit goes to this hardy Missourian. As a matter of fact, I think the cedar tree should become the state tree. I know a lot of people will probably disagree with me, they are happy with the Flowering Dogwood. But I say to you, what better representation of the settlers of this rocky, hilly, tough land than the Eastern Red Cedar. A tree that time and time again has clung to this harsh Missouri life, and flourished. The Flowering Dogwood, although a beautiful and showy tree, it does not do well without the shade and shelter of a larger forest tree. In my opinion, it is the city cousin of the Eastern Red Cedar.
A Red Cedar seed dropped almost anywhere in the state will take hold and make the best out of the life it was given. Our ancestors also overcame everything Missouri could throw at them. Tilling the rocky ground to feed their families or hacking away at the hardwoods, little came easy to the first Ozarkers. Even tornadoes, ice storms, drought, floods, depressions, and wars couldn’t stop them. They were survivors, just like the tough cedar tree.
And lets not forget about all the birds and animals that love the cedar. If you have ever been in the woods during a rainstorm, you will see squirrels, deer, birds and even insects shelter in it’s boughs. I have more than once myself crawled up under the branches of a Red Cedar seeking shelter from rain and snow.
So, next time you see a Red Cedar, give it your support and your vote as Missouri’s next state tree.