eastern redcedar
Juniperus virginiana L.
  • LEAVES: persistent, opposite, with two forms: on juvenile shoots (entire plants of seedlings), bristly awl- or needle-like leaves to ca. 0.4” can be found; most leaves on a mature plant are appressed and scale-like, ca. 0.1” long, born in 4 ranks along the twigs, thus the arrangement of the scale leaves is described as opposite-decussate
  • CONES: male and female cones are born on separate plants, thus the species is dioecious; male cones have imbricated yellowish-brown scales and are up to ca. 2” long, are born at branch tips and become conspicuous in late fall, releasing pollen in winter; female cones, born at tips of branchlets, are fleshy and berry-like when mature, being composed of leathery scales that are fused together – female cones are referred to as “juniper berries”, and are roundish and knobby, bluish-glaucous, to 0.35” broad, maturing in fall
  • TWIGS: slender, terete or angled, surface covered in appressed green scale-like leaves in 4 ranks
  • BARK: thin, light reddish-brown to gray, exfoliating in shreds
  • FORM: evergreen conifer to 100’ tall, more commonly encountered as a small tree to ca. 20-30’ tall; crown broadly pyramidal, if open-grown, lower branches often persistent and reaching the ground
  • HABITAT: this species can be found on just about any upland site on both old and young landscapes; performs best, and can form dense stands, on calcareous clay soils, or on shell deposits (natural and anthropogenic); an invader of calcareous prairies (and limestone glades elsewhere) without adequate fire
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: wood is durable and aromatic, used for furniture, paneling, and chest and closets due to moth repellent properties; female cones (“berries”) can be dried and used as a spice; “berries” and twigs can be steeped to make tea; ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: occasionally browsed by whitetail deer, also used by deer as a rub tree, often repeatedly (“annual signposts”); “berries” are eaten by many birds and mammals; important nesting cover for many birds and valuable dense winter cover
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. unique-looking evergreen conifer with a pyramidal crown
    2. bark typically reddish-brown and shreddy
    3. dimorphic leaves with needle-like and appressed scale-like forms, the former found on juvenile branches and seedlings, the latter dominant on mature plants
    4. bluish-glaucous mature female cones (“juniper berries”)