But it got me thinking how common Eastern red cedars are in old cemeteries all over Georgia and the entire South. Few old cemeteries seem to be without them. The species, in fact, is found so often in Southern cemeteries that it’s sometimes called the “graveyard tree.” A reason perhaps, according to folklorists, is that red cedars often were planted in burial grounds because their long lives and needled evergreen foliage symbolized eternal life.
The Eastern red cedar also is common throughout Georgia in the wild, able to tolerate most soils, even harsh ones. Because its wood has a pleasant, aromatic odor and moth-repellent properties, it has been used extensively for closet linings, chests and wardrobes. The decay-resistant wood also is good for fence posts and siding for homes. Most pencils once were made from cedar wood.