Note ** 2 types of leaves.
General: Cypress Family (Cupressaceae). Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a medium-sized dioecious or rarely monoecious tree from 10-20 m (33-66') tall (McGregor et al. 1986, Stephens 1973).
The evergreen tree is shaped like a pyramid or column, with reddish-brown to grayish colored bark that is fibrous and shedding.
Branches are usually reddish- brown. Leave are opposite, simple, green or blue- green, closely appressed and overlapping the leaf above, scale-like, and 0.2-0.3 cm (1/16-1/8”) long or needlelike and 0.6-1.2 cm (1/4-1/2”) long.
Male and female cones are on separate trees.
The staminate (male) cones are yellowish-brown, papery, solitary at the tips of branchlets, ovoid to ellipsoid, and 0.2-0.4 cm (1/16-1/8”) long.
The ovulate (female) cones are solitary at the tips of branchlets, dark blue or bluish- purple, waxy and berrylike, 0.4-0.7 cm (3/16-1/4”) long.
The female cones ripen from September through October. There are 1-3 seeds per cone. Red cedar seeds are yellow-brown and round, 2-4 mm in
diameter, ridged near the base, and sometimes shallowly pitted.
Foliage: Scale-like except awl-like when young; evergreen
Height: About 40 feet
Spread: About 15 feet
Shape: Typically narrow conical tree but ranges from conical to columnar (column-like)
Eastern redcedar is widely distributed throughout the eastern US. It is a pioneer species in that is quickly populates farm fields and other open areas (seeds spread in bird droppings). Its common place presence throughout makes it suffer the stigma of being too familiar. However, this species certainly has a place in our landscapes since there are cultivars that have dark green foliage, showy “fruit”, and a variety of forms (see Additional Information section). It is also tolerant of poor dry soils as well as alkaline soils.
Zone: 3 to 9
Light: Full sun
Moisture: Average to dry
Soil type: Any type except poorly drained
pH range: Acid to somewhat alkaline
Eastern redcedar has numerous landscape functions including specimen plant, in mass, as a hedge and windscreen, in a border, and as foundation plant (shrub forms).
No special care is needed. This species is very tolerant of pruning (do not cut into wood without foliage).
Eastern redcedars, like all junipers are dioecious which means that there are separate male and female plants. The silver-gray cones (fleshy coverings on seeds often referred to as juniper “berries) on females are quite attractive in the fall and winter. Male plants can be distinguished from female plants in the late winter because male cones (which bear pollen) are brown and are borne at branch tips giving male plants an overall brownish appearance in late winter. Eastern redcedar is a misnomer since this species is a juniper and not a true cedar; cedars are in the Cedrus genus. There is a great amount of variation in this species; plants differ in size, form, foliage color, and fruit characteristics. Selections have been made for these traits and some notable cultivars are:
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