Also Known As
Cedar tree, Southern redcedar, Virginia redcedar
Eastern redcedar is a small, egg-shaped, dense, native evergreen tree that can grow from 10 to 40 ft in height. Mature branches have overlapping, scale-like leaves. Fruit are pale blue, fleshy 'berries.'
Native to eastern North America, Eastern redcedar is widely distributed and can be found on many types of soil ranging from acid sands to those derived from limestone. It thrives in dry soils in full sunlight, and is winter hardy and tolerant of drought as well as salty soils. Like most junipers, it is very slow growing and is moderately long lived.
Did You Know?
Many birds and mammals eat the berry-like cones of redcedar, especially in winter, including solitaires, grouse, waxwings, quail, rabbits, foxes, and raccoons. The aromatic oils in redcedar are effective in repelling clothing moths, and are used in perfumes. Redcedar mulch can be used to repel ants. Heartwood of redcedar is quite resistant to decay and is used in fence posts, poles, closets, chests and pencils. There are several unrelated species that are also called cedar including western redcedar (Thuja), and members of the pine family (Cedrus).
The leaves are found in two forms. On seedlings and new twigs, leaves are pointed and awl-shaped, 0.25 to 0.5 in (0.64 to 1.3 cm) long. On mature branches, closely overlapping scale-like leaves 0.063 to 0.13 in (1.6 to 3.3 mm) in length fit tightly against the twig in opposite pairs. The leaves are dark green; sometimes turning reddish brown in winter. The stem is single with upright or spreading branches.
Pollen cones and seed cones are usually on separate trees. Pollen cones are yellowish-brown, oval, papery single cones found in large bunches at the tips of the twigs (branchlets).
Immature seed cones are light blue-green, inconspicuous and found in large bunches at the tips of short branches. Mature seed cones are round, pale-blue to blackish-green, berry-like cones with a quarter-inch diameter (6.35 mm) whitish bloom at the tips of the twigs (branchlets). One to three yellow-brown, round seeds occur in each berry-like seed cone. The seeds are very small, ridged near the base, and sometimes shallowly pitted.
Found in a wide range of soils and growing conditions, from swamps to dry, rocky glades and in many types of forest including red and white oak, hickory and mixed pine-hardwood forests. It can also occur in prairies, and may form cedar glades. Eastern redcedar can tolerate soils ranging from acid sands to those derived from limestone, but is more commonly found in drier rocky or sandy areas.