Eastern Red Cedar (juniperus virginiana). Photo by Famartin on Wikimedia Commons.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana L.)

Eastern Red Cedar (juniperus virginiana). Photo by Famartin on Wikimedia Commons.
Eastern Red Cedar (juniperus virginiana). Photo by Famartin on Wikimedia Commons.

Common name: Eastern Red Cedar

Scientific name: Juniperus virginiana L.
Family: Cypress Family (Cupressaceae).
Native floristic province: Eastern woodlands
Native range: The distribution of red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) spans the U.S. east of the Rockies. The species also occurs in Oregon in the west. The southern red cedar (var. silicicola) occurs only in the southeastern US.

Attracts: Red cedar and other junipers are important to wildlife throughout the country. Their twigs and foliage are eaten extensively by hoofed browsers, but the chief attraction to wildlife is the bluish-black berry-like fruit.

The Cedar Waxwing is one of the principal users of red cedar berries, but many other birds and mammals, both large and small, make these fruits an important part of their diet.

In addition to their wildlife food value, cedars provide important protective and nesting cover. Chipping sparrows, robins, song sparrows, and mockingbirds use these trees as one of their favorite nesting sites. Juncos, myrtle warblers, sparrows of various kinds, and other birds use the dense foliage as roosting cover. In winter, their dense protective shelter is especially valuable.

Description: The evergreen tree is shaped like a pyramid or column, with reddish-brown to grayish colored bark that is fibrous and shedding.

Habitat: well adapted to dry areas.
Height: 33-66′ tall (depends on variety; there are dwarf cultivars)
Light needed: sun, part sun
Hardiness zones: 4 to 9
Bloom period: March to May be
Bloom color: yellow
Fruit: The female cones ripen from September through October. There are 1-3 seeds per cone.

Growing Tips: Red cedar is generally propagated by cuttings. Red cedar seeds are usually sown in the nursery in the late summer or fall, but can be sown in spring or summer. The seeds of most species should be sown in fall to take advantage of natural pre-chilling.

Notes: All of the native junipers are valuable ornamental species, and many horticultural varieties have been developed. Red cedar is widely used in shelter belts and wildlife plantings.

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