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Eastern RedcedarJuniperus virginiana

  • Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana
  • Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana
  • Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana
  • Eastern Redcedar - Juniperus virginiana

The eastern redcedar tree is a common sight throughout most of the plains states and eastern United States on road cuts, in fence rows and scattered across abandoned fields—especially where limestone soils are present. It is an aromatic tree, with reddish wood giving off the scent of cedar chests and crushed fruit providing a whiff of the gin they once flavored.

Thanks to its tolerance of heat, salt, a wide range of soils and other adverse conditions, the eastern redcedar can be put to good use on the farm in windbreaks and in city landscapes for hedges, screens, clumps or even as specimen trees.


Hardiness Zones

The eastern redcedar can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 2–9. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen tree, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The eastern redcedar grows to a height of 40–50' and a spread of 8–20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Medium Growth Rate

This tree grows at a medium rate, with height increases of 13–24" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun is the ideal condition for this tree, meaning it should get at least 6 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The eastern redcedar grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam, well-drained and clay soils. The tree can withstand occasional flooding yet has good drought tolerance.

Attributes

This tree:
  • Loves the sun, growing best in open spaces.
  • Features scale-like evergreen leaves compacted to form rounded or 4-sided branchlets.
  • Produces rounded fruit that is gray or bluish-green in color and about ¼" in diameter. This fruit resembles a berry but is actually a cone made of fused cone scales.
  • Develops deep roots.
  • Tolerates heat, wind and salt.
  • Grows in a columnar or pyramidal shape.
  • Should not be planted near apple trees due to cedar-apple rust.

Wildlife Value

Eastern redcedar twigs and foliage are eaten by browsers while the fruit is eaten most extensively by cedar waxwings. Evergreen foliage provides nesting and roosting cover for sparrows, robins, mockingbirds, juncos and warblers.

History/Lore

The eastern redcedar is an ancient tree, dating to aboriginal America, where fossil evidence indicates it covered large portions of the continent. Early explorers took note of the tree. Arthur Barlowe and Phillip Amadus were quoted as saying the trees were "the tallest and reddest cedars in the world" when they arrived at Roanoke Island in 1564. Colonial craftsmen lost no time in using the wood from the eastern redcedar for furniture and fences, as it had superior weathering capability and was easy to work with. The wood was a staple of the pencil industry for over a century until supplies became exhausted and the industry switched to more plentiful western cedars.