Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

 red-cedar leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Eastern red cedar.



Straight trunk more or less grooved and pyramidal to rounded crown; 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.


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


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.


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.

Wood uses

Red, fine-grained, soft-textured, fragrant, and very durable; used for interior woodwork, chests, closets, lead pencils, posts, and poles. Red cedar is the alternate host of the cedar apple rust, so it is not favorable to plant in or near orchards or anywhere in regions devoted to commercial apple production.

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