HOW DOES IT INVADE?
Eastern redcedar is one of the most well-studied invasive species in the Great Plains. Scientists have been documenting the presence of eastern redcedar since 1809 and identifying mechanisms of its establishment and spread since 1910. Scroll down for helpful synthesis points that represent the scientific consensus regarding the invasion of eastern redcedar, the role of humans in facilitating spread, and its natural history. Direct quotes from the scientific literature that form the basis for each synthesis point can be found at Supporting Details.
- Eastern redcedar has many invasive qualities such as a fast growth rate, high reproductive output, capability for widespread dispersal, and adaptability to a wide-range of climate, edaphic, and topographic conditions.
- Eastern redcedar can convert open grassland to closed-canopy woodland in as little as 40 years.
- Eastern redcedar is invading grasslands at an exponential rate.
- Continued planting (for windbreaks, landscaping, etc.) has been identified as one of the primary factors enabling the invasion of eastern redcedar into grasslands.
- Nebraska state nurseries have been distributing Eastern redcedar seedlings for use in shelterbelt plantings, living snow fences, and wildlife habitat for 91 years.
- Eastern redcedar was historically a rare plant across the Great Plains.
- Natural reproduction is dependent on seed production and dispersal via birds or small mammals, as this tree cannot resprout or sucker if burned or cut below the lowest limb. Read more on Seed Production and Seed Dispersal.
- Prior to European settlement of the Great Plains, fire limited the abundance of this non-resprouting species to areas where fire could not spread (e.g. rocky outcroppings, stream channels, canyons).
- Recent changes in the frequency, intensity, and size of fire has removed a controlling factor limiting the spread of Eastern redcedar throughout the Great Plains. Read more at Factors Facilitating Invasion.