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Native Plant of the Week: Eastern Red Cedar

Family: Cupressaceae


Name: Juniperus virginiana - Eastern Red Cedar


Bloom Time: January - March


Flower/Cone: The pollen cones are small and yellowish-tan on male trees, while the female trees produce round, berry-like cones about 1/4"


Soil Condition: Dry - Moist


Light: Sun - Partial Sun


Height: 30-40' tall by 10-20' wide


Native Range: Eastern North America including Long Island


Zone: 2 - 9

Photos (KMS Native Plants): Cedar Waxwing enjoying juniper berries, male pollen cones, and a beautiful stand of juniper in Avalon Preserve, NY


Eastern Red Cedar is not a cedar at all, it is a Juniper. This beautiful and fragrant evergreen is found along the shore and in neighborhoods. Its high salt tolerance makes it a great screening tree or specimen in the 'hell strip' (the area closest to the street or between the sidewalk and the street). For the waxy, blue berries, you need a female and male tree (junipers are not sexed in the trade).


Maintenance: None but it is a host to Cedar-Apple Rust. This does not usually kill a tree but it does make it a bit unsightly. A cool, wet spring is perfect for the spread of the fungus.


These pictures are from the junipers in my yard. The first picture is the overwintering gall. The middle picture shows the telial horns that are pushed out as the gall swells with water (the gall swells with cool, wet weather). The last picture is the gelatinous ooze that will eventually dry and release bazillions of spores. Many of these spores will land on their alternate host in the Rosaceae family like serviceberry (Photos, KMS Native Plants).

Benefits: Birds eat the waxy blue berries on female trees and they nest and shelter in the branches. Deer resistant. High salt tolerance. Makes a great Christmas tree, Black Walnut (juglone) tolerant.


Noteworthy Cultivars: 'Grey Owl' is 2-3'tall and 4-6' wide with showy gray-blue foliage and 'Taylor' is 20-25' tall and 3-4' wide with attractive blue-green foliage.


Fun Facts: Native Americans use Eastern Red Cedar to make flutes, furniture, fragrance, mats, incense, and spices. They also used it medicinally. The Eastern Cedar Waxwing was named after this tree.


Companion Plants: Cornus sericea - Red Twig Dogwood, Baccharis halimifolia - Groundsel Bush, Vaccinium angustifolium - Lowbush Blueberry


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