Juniperus virginiana, commonly called eastern red cedar, is native to North America. It can be found growing from eastern Canada south through North Dakota and as far went as Colorado. Red cedar is also found in Texas, as far east as Florida, and as far north as Maine. It also grows in the Pacific Northwest. Red Cedar has a high flammability rating. It grows easily in average, dry to moist, well-drained soil in full sun. Eastern red cedar prefers moist soil and does not tolerate wet feet. It has the best drought resistance of any conifer native to the eastern U.S. www.plants.ces.NCSU.edu
Eastern red cedar grows freely in woodland areas, fields, pastures, and glades. It is a broadly conical, sometimes columnar, dense evergreen with horizontal branching that typically grows to 30 to 65-feet tall. Gray to reddish-brown bark exfoliates in thin strips on mature trees. Trunks are frequently fluted at the base. The heartwood is light brown and aromatic and is commonly used for cedar chests. The wood is also used to make fence posts and rails as it is naturally rot-resistant. It also repels insects, therefore making it popular for pet bedding. The foliage is dark blue-green. The eastern red cedar is a dioecious species (separate male and female trees). Female trees produce round, gray to blackish-green berry-like cones (1/4” diameter) that ripen and fall in the first year. These berry-like cones are attractive to many song birds. The genus name comes from the Latin name for juniper. www.Missouribotanicalgarden.org
Eastern red cedar is easy to transplant. It is tough, dependable, and highly salt tolerant. The eastern red cedar was used by Native Americans to make flutes, furniture, fragrance, mats, incense, and spices. They also used it medicinally. Eastern red cedar provides winter cover for song birds and small mammals. It supports Juniper Hairstreak (Callophrys gryneus) larvae. Adult Juniper Hairstreak butterflies feed on various flower nectars. Eastern red cedar is at home in many gardens with room and can be used as a natural buffer between properties. It has no serious insect or disease problems. It can be susceptible to twig blight, scale, bagworms, or mites. www.plants.ces.NCSU.edu
Eastern red cedar will be added to the Brunswick County Botanical Garden in the future.
Information and image by Jeanne Pavero