Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern red cedar photograph; ? MN DNR, Welby Smith
Eastern red cedar fruit photograph; ? MN DNR, Welby Smith

Form

Straight trunk more or less grooved and broad conical head; height 25' to 50' when growing in good locations; diameter up to 24"; trunk may be very divided or nearly prostrate on poor, rocky, and dry soil.

Bark

Thin, reddish-brown, peeling off in long, vertical shredlike strips.

Leaf

Two kinds are usually found on the same tree; the more common kind is dark green, minute, and scalelike, clasping the stem in four ranks so that the stem appears square; the second kind usually appears on young growth, on vigorous shoots, or on branches in deep shade and is awl shaped, quite sharp pointed, spreading, and whitened underneath.

Fruit (seed)

A dark blue berrylike cone with a diameter of 1/4" encloses one or two seeds in a sweet flesh; matures in one season; is a favorite winter food for some birds.

Range

Dry, gravelly soil and rocky ledges in the southern half of the state; most abundant on river bluffs in the southeastern part where few other trees are found; shade intolerant.