Search plant names:
Links for Teachers
Site Map

Home > Resources > North Carolina Trees > Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar

(Juniperus virginiana L.)

  Eastern red cedar, a very valuable tree, is found in all classes and conditions of soils -- from acidic wetlands to dry, rocky nidges. It seems to thrive on barren soils where few other trees are found. Eastern red cedar is scattered throughout the state, except in the highmountains. It is most commonly found in the Piedmont.

The mature leaves average 1/16 inches in length and are opposite. They are smooth, shiny, dark green and glandular. On young foliage, leaves are somewhat needle-like: linear; pointed; and prickly. They occur in whorls of three. The fleshy fruit is round, 1/4 to 1/3 inch in diameter and, at maturity, a bluish color with a grayish-white, waxy covering.

The tree commonly is 40 to 50 feet tall with a trunk diameter of 1 to 2 feet, but it may grow much larger. The short, slender branches form a compact, pyramidal crown, except on very old trees.

The bark is light reddish-brown. It is thin and separates into long, peeling, fibrous strips. The heartwood of the Eastern red cedar is distinctly red, and the sapwood is white. This color combination creates striking effects when the wood is finished as cedar chests, closets and interior woodwork. Red cedar wood is aromatic, soft, strong and evenly textured; these qualities make it the best material for pencils. The heartwood is very resistant to decay. It is in great demand for use in fence posts, poles and rustic furniture. Because red cedar repels insects, it is used for cedar chests, closet linings and petbedding.

Red cedar can cause havoc in apple orchards. The "cedar apples" often found on the twigs of the red cedar are caused by a rust fungus (Gymnosporangium. juniperi - virginianae) that has an alternate host in apple trees. The fungus causes dark leaf spots on apple trees.
Plant Information Center
About PIC  |  Project Staff   |  Advisory Panel Research Activities |  
Partners  Permissions 
  Funding provided in part by
Institute of Museum and Library Services

Plant Information Center is produced
in conjunction with Botnet