Cedars, Junipers, latin names in general
I am trying diligently to illuminate and correct, and not sound like a stuffy
College Professor with a bad attitude! ( :-) ) One problem is, I AM a
retired College Professor, with a bad attitude, at least about plant names.
So, treat me kindly, I just can't help it. Fridays are like that,
A recent post was discussing "cedar," and (possibly simply an innocent
mis-spelling) a plant was called "thuga."
No such critter.
Thuja is the genus for a group of woody plants known more commonly as
Arborvitae. Tsuga is the genus for another group of woody plants known more
commonly as Hemlock, sometimes as Fir. This causes a problem, as Abies is
the genus for Fir. Taxus is the genus for the Yews.
( Innocent aside here. One of my favorite Latin plant names was the lovely
tree formerly called "Pseudotsuga taxifolia." That translates to "The False
Hemlock with the leaves like a Yew." Due to someone discovering the tree had
been named EARLIER by a different taxonomist using a different name, we now
call the same tree "Pseudotsuga menzisii." Drat. I liked the former name. )
Cedrus is the genus for yet another group of woody plants commonly called
"Cedar." Just to keep things confusing, trees and shrubs in the genus
"Juniperus" are often called "Red Cedar." Juniperus americana is called
"Eastern RedCedar," and the heartwood is the red, highly aromatic wood used
for "Cedar Chests."
ALL of the dratted things are members of the "Pine" Family. You just can't
trust a taxonomist. ( :-) )
The wood of some members of some of the above trees is toxic. All parts of
Yew are DEADLY poisonous if chewed or eaten. This includes the pretty,
bright red fruit. Don't eat them. Sure, squirrels do, but you are not a
squirrel. The poisonous stuff gives only one symptom, sudden death. It
stops your heart. DO NOT TRY IT!! (I am serious here. DO NOT TRY IT.)
Yes, those pretty yews around your house are poisonous. They taste
TERRIBLE, so there is little danger of one of your kids chewing on them.
The bottom line, once you get past my annoying fuss about correct botanical
names, is that yes, some woods are bad for fish (and people) and some are OK.
No, I don't know which ones are OK, but things that lose their leaves in the
autumn are generally safe. Sort of. Sometimes. Some of them are toxic,
too. If you try something in your tank, and it kills the fish, tell the rest
of us. If you try something in your tank, and it does NOT kill the fish,
tell us. Then, hope you know what wood did what. Yes, it is really HARD to
identify woods when they are partly decomposed in your fish tank. However,
try asking the Forestry Department of your local University, especially
anyone in the Cooperative Extension group. They have some really neat "keys"
that enable them to identify almost any wood just from a little bitty thin
slice across the grain.
Cheers, happy weekend everybody.