The plant grows herbaceous herbs, shrubs, trees
Cedarwood planter boxes were used to grow herbs, herbs-growing shrubs and trees in the 1880s.
Today, they’re a fixture in homes, garages and yards.
But they’ve also been a source of controversy.
Some gardeners, including former Rep. Bill Young, a Democrat from Alabama, say they are toxic.
Others say they’re simply not that environmentally friendly.
Cedarwood planters were used for many years by lumberyards, but their popularity waned after World War II, when the lumber industry shifted from large, industrial to more rural areas.
Many plants that grow in wood planters are native to North America, such as oak and pine, but some are also native to the Mediterranean and eastern Asia.
The tree of the same name from Europe, also called a spruce, grows from a trunk, stems and leaves.
In addition, some plants from Asia and Africa have been known to grow in the same wood planter.
“It’s a real problem,” said John McAfee, a retired University of Missouri graduate and former forestry professor.
McAfee said that as many as two-thirds of the trees he collected in his garden in the 1970s were diseased.
He says the trees could have been poisoned by too much fertilizer.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued an environmental alert in 2003 saying Cedarwood plans had high levels of carbon monoxide.
But the EPA didn’t have an effective way to tell the difference between a healthy tree and a diseased tree, so it created a task force in the 1980s to try to determine which trees had the highest levels of the toxin.
In 2001, the EPA released a report concluding that Cedarwood plants were not dangerous, but the agency said it could not establish an official cause of death because of the incomplete information.
Now, the agency is taking a fresh look at Cedarwood, which it says will be studied by a new group of scientists.
This year, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), which oversees Cedarwood and other tree species, is looking for studies on how the plants absorb nitrogen, which is important for tree health and production.
Another concern is that some trees may not have sufficient moisture to survive, according to the EPA.
That could make them more susceptible to drought and fungus, which has been linked to the decline of some species.
For some homeowners, it’s unclear how the trees will fare in the climate change future.
“You have to have a lot of faith in the science and a lot in the tree’s ability to cope with the conditions that we’re going through,” said Sarah McAfee.
Her husband, Robert, a professor of forestry at the University of Illinois, agrees.
He thinks Cedarwood trees will be around for a long time.
More to come.