University of Maryland Extension

Eastern Red Cedar

Photo & text by Marian Hengemihle

Juniperus virginiana

This native conifer is actually a juniper, not a cedar.  Growing to 40 feet tall and 15 feet wide, cultivars range from pyramidal to columnar, while volunteers vary greatly. Trunks have reddish peeling bark and can be handsomely fluted. With age the tree’s lower trunk often becomes exposed like a small shade tree. Green to blue-green scaly foliage may bronze in winter. In fall, attractive blue seed cones on female trees are relished by birds and wildlife, plus this dense evergreen provides shelter and nesting sites. Dismissed as weedy by some gardeners, it deserves a spot in windbreaks, screens, hedgerows, or as a specimen. The fragrant heartwood is famous for lining cedar chests and closets. Best growth is in full sun in a wide variety of soils. Do not plant near apple trees; it is an alternate host for cedar apple rust. 


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