Edwin R. Lawson
Eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana), also called red juniper or savin, is a common coniferous species growing on a variety of sites throughout the eastern half of the United States. Although eastern redcedar is generally not considered to be an important commercial species, its wood is highly valued because of its beauty, durability, and workability. The number of trees and volume of eastern redcedar are increasing throughout most of its range. It provides cedarwood oil for fragrance compounds, food and shelter for wildlife, and protective vegetation for fragile soils.
Juniperus virginiana, American juniper or eastern red-cedar (also called red cedar, Virginia cedar, red juniper, or savin), is a medium-sized evergreen coniferous tree in the Cupressaceae (cypress family), widely distributed throughout the eastern half of North America. Although generally not considered to be an important commercial species, its wood is highly valued for specialty furniture and wood products because of its beauty, durability, and workability. It is often used to make or line chests and drawers (as a moth repellent) and for fence posts (because it is rot resistant). It provides cedarwood oil for fragrance compounds, food and shelter for wildlife, and protective vegetation for fragile soils. The number of trees and volume of American juniper is increasing throughout most of its range, as it readily colonizes disturbed sites, and is sometimes aggressively weedy in taking over abandoned fields and roadsides. Dozens of cultivars have been developed for ornamental and landscaping purposes, with a large array of forms and foliage colors. American juniper typically grows to 23 m (75 ft) high (although many cultivars are smaller), with a pyramidal or conical canopy, and thin bark. The leaves on young growth are needle-like but flattened, and are either opposite or ternate (in whorls of three). Leaves on older branches are scale-like and closely appressed (flattened together). The species is dioecious—male and wind-pollinated female flowers grow on separate plants, and only female flowers develop seed cones, which have fused scales and are round and berry-like, up to 1 cm (0.5 in) in diameter. Seed cones ripen to blue or black with a glaucous (waxy) coating, and typically contain 3 seeds. The seed cones of various Juniperus species make up 2 to 5% of the diet of 66 species of North American mammals. The species is often bird-dispersed, as seed germination rates may be higher following passage through a bird gut. Juniper “berries” are also edible by humans—they add the characteristic flavor to gin, and they are featured in teas and herbal supplements, and sometimes used as a flavoring in meat dishes. Juniperus virginiana, along with several other juniper species, is an alternate host for the fungal pathogen Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae, which causes cedar-apple rust. Cedar-apple rust has a complicated life cycle, but causes colorful orange galls on juniper trees, and rust-colored spots (turning to black) on the leaves of apple trees (Malus species) that grow in close proximity to juniper; the fungus can reduce apple production. (Adams 2008, Bailey et al. 1976, Lawson 1990, Martin et al. 1951, Wikipedia 2012.)
General: Cypress Family (Cupressaceae). Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a medium-sized dioecious or rarely monoecious tree from 10-20 m (33-66') tall (McGregor et al. 1986, Stephens 1973). The evergreen tree is shaped like a pyramid or column, with reddish-brown to grayish colored bark that is fibrous and shedding. Branches are usually reddish-brown. Leave are opposite, simple, green or blue-green, closely appressed and overlapping the leaf above, scale-like, and 0.2-0.3 cm (1/16-1/8”) long or needlelike and 0.6-1.2 cm (1/4-1/2”) long. Male and female cones are on separate trees. The staminate (male) cones are yellowish-brown, papery, solitary at the tips of branchlets, ovoid to ellipsoid, and 0.2-0.4 cm (1/16-1/8”) long. The ovulate (female) cones are solitary at the tips of branchlets, dark blue or bluish-purple, waxy and berrylike, 0.4-0.7 cm (3/16-1/4”) long. The female cones ripen from September through October. There are 1-3 seeds per cone. Red cedar seeds are yellow-brown and round, 2-4 mm in diameter, ridged near the base, and sometimes shallowly pitted.
Cedar tree, juniper, savin, evergreen, cedar apple, and Virginia red cedar
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Eastern redcedar's range extends from Nova Scotia west to Ontario, south through the northern Great Plains to eastern Texas, and east to northern Florida and the Atlantic coast [29,71,79,82]. J.v. var. virginiana occurs throughout eastern redcedar's range, with the exception of northern Florida [68,71]. J.v. var. silicicola is restricted to coastal dunes and river sandbanks of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and northern Florida [3,71].
The Flora of North America provides a distributional map of eastern redcedar and its infrataxa.
States or Provinces
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
14 Great Plains
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands
- The native range of eastern redcedar.
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. For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.
The following description of eastern redcedar provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [114,129]).
Eastern redcedar is a relatively long-lived evergreen that may reach 450+ years [29,36,114,124]. It has 2 distinct growth forms. The most familiar form is narrowly conical with its branches growing up and out at a sharp angle to form a compact tree. The 2nd form is broadly conical with branches that spread widely. Both forms can be found throughout eastern redcedar's range . Some authors describe the 2 forms in terms of age: young trees have the narrowly pyramidal or columnar shape with crowns becoming open and irregular as trees age . Others suggest differences in crown form are attributed to variety, with J.v. var. virginiana displaying the columnar form and J.v. var. silicicola more broadly conical to rounded [29,36,68].
Eastern redcedar has thin, fibrous bark [29,55,129] that is 0.3 to 0.64 inch (0.75-1.6 cm) thick [8,28,29]. Leaves of eastern redcedar are borne in 2 forms. On seedlings and new twigs, leaves are pointed and awl-shaped. On mature branches, closely overlapping scale-like leaves fit tightly against the twig in opposite pairs [46,124,129].
Eastern redcedar generally has a shallow, fibrous root system [8,124], though roots of mature eastern redcedar trees may penetrate 25 feet (7.6 m) and lateral roots may reach 20 feet (6 m) [26,141]. Eastern redcedar seedlings have penetrating taproots and may later develop a lateral taproot system [24,79]. The deep, early taproot is usually replaced by an extensive, shallow root system with age . Even 1st year seedlings begin developing a long fibrous root system, often at the expense of top growth . The root system may be deep where soil permits , but on shallow and rocky soils eastern redcedar roots are very fibrous and tend to spread widely . The development of a lateral taproot with age may also enable eastern redcedar to persist on outcrops and shallow soils .
Eastern redcedar seeds are borne in small, fleshy, berrylike cones [8,29], with 1 to 4 seeds per cone [44,68,79,124]. Eastern redcedar cones or fruits range from 0.12 to 0.33 inch (3-8 mm) long, with most 0.14 to 0.22 inch (3.5-5.5 mm) long [44,63,68,129]. Within this range, J.v. var. silicicola generally has smaller cone sizes than J.v. var. virginiana . Seeds are 0.08-0.16 inch (2-4 mm) long [63,129].
Habitat and Ecology
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Elevation and aspect: Eastern redcedar occurs from sea level to 5,000 feet (1,524 m) in elevation [29,111]. Although the most desirable elevation is not clearly delineated, eastern redcedar is found most often growing between 100 and 3,500 feet (30-1,070 m). It is notably absent below the 100 foot elevation zone in the southern and eastern parts of its range .
Aspect influences the character of eastern redcedar stands. On north and east slopes, there may be fewer eastern redcedar trees because of hardwood competition. However, the eastern redcedar that does occur on north and east slopes may be taller than the trees found on south and west slopes . Eastern redcedar is generally more prevalent on south and south-west facing slopes . In the western part of its range, however, eastern redcedar may more likely be found on north-facing slopes and along streambanks where there is some protection from high temperatures and drought . On exposed areas in the far northern portion of its range, eastern redcedar's growth habit may be reduced to a low shrub .
Climate: Widespread distribution of eastern redcedar attests to its ability to grow under a range of climatic conditions. Precipitation averages 15 inches (380 mm) in the northwestern part of its range and 60 inches (1,520 mm) in the southeastern parts of its range [29,79,82,110]. Average annual maximum temperature ranges from 90 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (32-46 oC) and average minimum temperature ranges from -45 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-43 to -7 oC). The growing season varies from about 120 to 250 days [79,82].
Soils and topography: Throughout its range, eastern redcedar grows under diverse site conditions: in deep and shallow soils, on ridgetops, and in valleys [46,47,64,79,114]. Eastern redcedar grows in such varied habitats as thin, rocky soils and dry outcrops to finer textured, saturated soils of swamps [18,63,64,79,82,110,132], though it is not tolerant of flooding . Eastern redcedar is common on shallow soils (6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) thick) on limestone or sandstone bedrock [29,31,47,68]. Where soil averages less than 12 inches (30 cm) deep, eastern redcedar seldom grows taller than 20 to 30 feet (6-9 m). Where soil depth is 12 to 24 inches (30-60 cm), it reaches 35 feet (10.7 m) in approximately 50 years . Optimal site conditions for eastern redcedar are deep (>24 inches), moist, well-drained alluvial soils, where it may reach heights of 55 to 60 feet (16.7-18.3 m) after 50 years [46,79,82].
Eastern redcedar grows on alkaline or acidic soils where soil pH ranges from 4.7 to 7.8 [8,46,79,110]. High soil acidity does not deter eastern redcedar establishment [46,124], though it may slow growth . Combinations of low phosphorus, high calcium and pH>7 in particular may favor eastern redcedar . However, Lawson  reports that although eastern redcedar will grow on slightly alkaline soils, it is not particularly tolerant of higher pH levels. Eastern redcedar's occurrence on neutral to alkaline soils may be a result (rather than a cause) of the tree's presence . Soils in eastern redcedar stands tend to become neutral or slightly alkaline because the high calcium content of the tree's foliage can change the pH of the surface soil in a relatively short time [29,46,79].
Eastern redcedar (primarily J.v. var. virginiana) is commonly found on rough upland topography, including moderate to steep slopes and eroded limestone slopes and knobs [3,8,11,13,24,111,111,124]. It frequently forms dense stands on exposed bluffs and ridges . Southern redcedar occurs predominantly on coastal dunes, swales, shell mounds, brackish flats, and floodplains [3,36].
Tolerances: Southern redcedar is saline tolerant, growing on brackish marsh sites in southeastern U.S. , barrier island swales subject to saltwater flooding [122,136], and on coastal dunes subject to salt spray [64,69].
Eastern redcedar grows where water is near the surface or where soil moisture fluctuates from near saturation in winter to extreme dryness in summer . It has high drought tolerance [29,63,92,132], enhanced by the presence of rapidly produced taproots as well as an extensive fibrous root system . The relative drought tolerance of eastern redcedar compared with some herbaceous species (e.g. big bluestem) may contribute to its successful invasion of tallgrass prairie in the absence of fire .
Key Plant Community Associations
Eastern redcedar commonly occurs in mixed stands with shortleaf pine
(Pinus echinata), Virginia pine (P. virginiana), northern
red oak (Quercus rubra), white oak (Q. alba), black oak
(Q. velutina), blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), hickories
(Carya spp.), and black walnut (Juglans nigra) . In the
northeastern United States, eastern redcedar frequently occurs on rocky
ridgetops with shagbark hickory (C. ovata), eastern hophornbeam
(Ostrya virginiana), downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea),
little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), bristleleaf sedge
(Carex eburnea), and Parlin's pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii) .
Where eastern redcedar dominates, species diversity is commonly low . Pure
stands of eastern redcedar occur throughout its range, primarily on dry uplands or
abandoned farmlands [63,79], though hardwood species may also occur on these sites .
In southern Appalachian montane cedar-hardwood woodlands, eastern redcedar occurs
with bluestems (Andropogon spp.), little bluestem, sedges (Carex spp.),
panicgrass (Dichanthelium spp.), yellow honeysuckle (Lonicera flava),
cliff stonecrop (Sedum glaucophyllum), white ash (Fraxinus americana),
eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra),
honey-locust (Gleditsia tricanthos), chinkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii),
chestnut oak (Q. prinus), pignut hickory (Carya glabra),
and mockernut hickory (C. tomentosa) [24,111]. Pure stands are
also common in the northern Great Plains, though the stands may eventually be invaded
by other woody species .
In the prairie ecosystem, common associates of eastern redcedar include
little bluestem, big bluestem (A. gerardii var. gerardii), sideoats grama
(Bouteloua curtipendula), blue grama (B. gracilis), western wheatgrass
(Pascopyrum smithii), indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass
(Panicum virgatum), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis), gray goldenrod
(Solidago nemoralis), sedges, flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata),
smooth sumac (Rhus glabra), leadplant (Amorpha canescens), poison-ivy
(Toxicodendron radicans), common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus),
silver buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea), chokecherry (Prunus virginiana),
common juniper (J. communis), gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa), currants
(Ribes spp.), and Rubus species [93,126].
Where stands of eastern redcedar are interspersed with grasslands, "cedar
glades" may develop. Cedar glades are found in the Ozark region, north to
Wisconsin, and east to Illinois and Kentucky. Though eastern redcedar dominates
and may occur in almost pure stands in these glades [11,31,46,58,78], common
associates in midwestern glade communities include little bluestem, big bluestem,
broomsedge bluestem (Andropogon virginicus), hairy grama (B. hirsuta),
sideoats grama, switchgrass, prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha),
indiangrass, dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.), blackjack oak,
post oak (Q. stellata), white ash, winged elm (U. alata),
fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), Carolina buckthorn (Frangula caroliniana),
rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens),
and common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) [11,46,47,58,78]. In Kentucky cedar
glades, eastern redcedar commonly occurs with big bluestem, little bluestem, purple threeawn
(Aristida purpurea), indiangrass, nodding onion (Allium cernuum), Carolina larkspur
(Delphinium carolinianum ssp. virescens), blue wild indigo
(Baptisia australis), roundhead lespedeza (Lespedeza capitata), flowering spurge,
spotted sandmat (Chamaesyce maculata), slenderstalk beeblossom (Gaura filipes),
necklace gladecress (Leavenworthia torulosa), Michaux's gladecress (L. uniflora),
little hogweed (Portulaca oleracea), bearded flatsedge (Cyperus squarrosus), and
widowscross (Sedum pulchellum) . In Wisconsin cedar glades, common associates include
little bluestem, big bluestem, flowering spurge, leadplant, hairy grama, Michaux's stitchwort
(Minuartia michauxii var. michauxii), gray goldenrod, basswood
(Tilia americana), gray birch (Betula populifolia), common juniper, and creeping
Classifications identifying eastern redcedar as a plant community dominant
include those listed below:
New York 
North Carolina 
Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):
More info for the terms: cover, hardwood
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
710 Bluestem prairie
717 Little bluestem-Indiangrass-Texas wintergrass
719 Mesquite-liveoak-seacoast bluestem
730 Sand shinnery oak
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)
802 Missouri prairie
803 Missouri glades
804 Tall fescue
809 Mixed hardwood and pine
810 Longleaf pine-turkey oak hills
812 North Florida flatwoods
813 Cutthroat seeps
815 Upland hardwood hammocks
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: cover
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
14 Northern pin oak
15 Red pine
19 Gray birch-red maple
20 White pine-northern red oak-red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine-hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
24 Hemlock-yellow birch
25 Sugar maple-beech-yellow birch
26 Sugar maple-basswood
27 Sugar maple
37 Northern white-cedar
39 Black ash-American elm-red maple
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
45 Pitch pine
46 Eastern redcedar
50 Black locust
51 White pine-chestnut oak
52 White oak-black oak-northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
58 Yellow-poplar-eastern hemlock
59 Yellow-poplar-white oak-northern red oak
60 Beech-sugar maple
62 Silver maple-American elm
65 Pin oak-sweetgum
66 Ashe juniper-redberry (Pinchot) juniper
67 Mohrs (shin) oak
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine-scrub oak
72 Southern scrub oak
73 Southern redcedar
74 Cabbage palmetto
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
78 Virginia pine-oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine-shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine-hardwood
83 Longleaf pine-slash pine
84 Slash pine
85 Slash pine-hardwood
88 Willow oak-water oak-diamondleaf (laurel) oak
89 Live oak
92 Sweetgum-willow oak
93 Sugarberry-American elm-green ash
94 Sycamore-sweetgum-American elm
97 Atlantic white-cedar
104 Sweetbay-swamp tupelo-redbay
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
KUCHLER  PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K073 Northern cordgrass prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K076 Blackland prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K083 Cedar glades
K084 Cross Timbers
K086 Juniper-oak savanna
K087 Mesquite-oak savanna
K089 Black Belt
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K101 Elm-ash forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K109 Transition between K104 and K106
K110 Northeastern oak-pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
Soils and Topography
The species is frequently associated with areas commonly called glades, characterized by thin rocky soils and intermittent rock outcrops; soil depth is difficult to determine because soil rock content and depth of rock fissures vary (11,16). Soils on the poorest glade sites are less than 30 cm (12 in) deep, medium sites are usually less than 61 cm (24 in) deep and have large crevices, and good sites have deeper soil. Arend and Collins (3) developed the site classification system shown in table 1.
Table 1- Site classes for natural stands of eastern redcedar in northern Arkansas Site Class Item I II III IV Soil character alluvial upland upland upland Soil depth, cm 61+ 61+ 30 to 58 less than 30 Soil depth, in 24+ 24+ 12 to 23 less than 12 Site index¹ Open stand, m 16.8 13.7 10.7 7.6 Open stand, ft 55 45 35 25 Closed stand, m 18.3 15.2 12.2 9.1 Closed stand, ft 60 50 40 30 ¹Adjusted to base age 50 years. Eastern redcedar grows on soils that vary widely in acidity. Soils found in natural stands range in pH value from 4.7 to 7.8. Although the species will grow on sites that are slightly alkaline, it is not particularly tolerant to higher pH levels. Eastern redcedar is, in fact, among the least alkali-tolerant of drought-hardy trees and shrubs. Soils in eastern redcedar stands tend to become neutral or slightly alkaline because the high calcium content of the tree's foliage can change the pH of the surface soil in a relatively short time. This condition also increases earthworm activity, with an increase in incorporation of organic matter, a lower volume weight, and an increase in pore volume and infiltration rate (11,15).
Eastern redcedar grows on ridgetops, varying slopes, and flat land and is frequently found on dry, exposed sites and abandoned fields. This aspect also influences eastern redcedar development. In the western part of its range, the species may be found on north-facing slopes and along streambanks where there is some protection from high temperatures and drought. Although the most desirable elevation is not clearly delineated, eastern redcedar is found most often growing between 30 m (100 ft) and 1070 m (3,500 ft). It is notably absent below the 30 m (100 ft) elevation zone in the southern and eastern parts of the species range (15,27).
Average annual temperatures vary from about 4° C (40° F) in the north to 20° C (68° F) in the southern part of the botanical range. Average annual maximum temperature ranges only from about 32° C (90° F) to 41° C (105° F), but average minimum temperature ranges from -43° C (-45° F) to -7° C (20° F). The growing season varies from about 120 to 250 days.
Habitat & Distribution
It is especially well adapted to dry areas. Red cedar is generally propagated by cuttings.
telium of Gymnosporangium sabinae causes gall of live, swollen branch of Juniperus virginiana
Remarks: season: 4-5
Foodplant / feeds on
Trisetacus chamaecypari feeds on foliage of Juniperus virginiana
Associated Forest Cover
Variants of the type are eastern redcedar-pine, eastern redcedar-hardwood, and eastern redcedar-pine-hardwood. The eastern redcedar-pine variant is composed of eastern redcedar and either shortleaf pine (Pinus echinata) or Virginia pine (P. virginiana) and is found throughout the southern half of its range. The eastern redcedar-hardwood variant is found throughout the central part of its range and includes a mixture of red (Quercus rubra) and white (Q. alba) oaks, hickories (Carya spp.), black walnut (Juglans nigra), and other hardwoods. The third variant, eastern redcedar-pine-hardwood, includes all of the above species associations (15). Eastern redcedar appears as a minor component of several other forest cover types.
Eastern redcedar is among the first to invade abandoned fields and areas cleared for pasture (25). On deeper soils, persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum) are associated invaders and may crowd it out. In cedar glades, the species is commonly associated with blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), winged elm (Ulmus alata), fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana), rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), and Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens). Little bluestem (Andropogon scoparius), big bluestem (A. gerardi), yellow Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), dropseed (Sporobolus spp.), and numerous composites and legumes are common herbaceous plants.
Eastern red-cedar is among the first to invade abandoned fields and areas cleared for pasture. On deeper soils, persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and sassafras (Sassafras albidum) are associated invaders and may crowd it out. In cedar glades, the species is commonly associated with blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica), winged elm (Ulmus alata), fragrant sumac (Rhus aromatica), Carolina buckthorn (Rhamnus caroliniana), rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), and Alabama supplejack (Berchemia scandens). Dry prairie grasses, including little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii), yellow Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), and dropseed (Sporobolus spp.), along with numerous composites and legumes, are common herbaceous associates.
Diseases and Parasites
Several insects damage eastern redcedar trees but rarely cause serious permanent damage (5). Roots of seedlings are very susceptible to attack by nematodes and grubs. The foliage is eaten by bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) and spruce spider mites (Oligonychus ununguis), both of which can completely defoliate trees. The eastern juniper bark beetle (Phloeosinus dentatus) attacks the species but usually does not kill trees except when the attack is associated with the root rot fungus, Heterobasidion annosum. Another bark beetle (Phloeosinus canadensis) may feed on eastern redcedar. Several boring insects, including the black-horned juniper borer (Callidium texanum), cedartree borer (Semanotus ligneus), cypress and cedar borer (Oeme rigida), and pales weevil (Hylobius pales) will attack eastern redcedar. The juniper midge (Contarinia juniperina) is a gall insect pest of redcedar which bores into the twigs at the base of needles and kills the portion beyond the entrance hole. In addition to pales weevil, two other weevils, the arborvitae weevil (Phyllobius intrusus) and the strawberry root weevil (Otiorhynchus ovatus), feed on roots of eastern redcedar. The latter two weevils are also leaf feeders, along with the juniper webworm (Dichomeris marginella); a wax moth (Coleotechnites juniperella); a leaf roller (Choristoneura houstonana), a pest of windbreak and ornamental plantings; and a sawfly (Monoctenus melliceps). The Fletcher scale (Lecanium fletcheri) and juniper scale (Carulaspis juniperi) are two other commonly occurring insects that attack junipers.
Eastern redcedar, especially when weakened by stress or insects, is very susceptible to damage by the root rot fungus, Heterobasidion annosum. This disease is thought to cause the greatest damage over much of its range. Cubical rot fungi (Fomes subroseus and Daedalea juniperina) and juniper pocket rot fungus (Pyrofomes demidoffii) enter eastern redcedars through dead branch stubs and attack the heartwood. Several other minor heart-rot fungi infect eastern redcedar (21).
The major stem and foliage diseases of eastern redcedar are fungi known as cedar rusts in the genus Gymnosporangium. The most commonly known and widely spread species is cedar apple rust (G. juniperi-virginianae), which attacks trees in all stages of development. Because it is an alternate host to this disease, the presence of redcedar is a problem to apple growers. Other common species are G. clavipes, G. globosum, G. effusum, and G. nidus-avis. The latter fungus is widely distributed and produces witches' brooms (21). Important foliage diseases include Phomopsis blight (Phomopsis juniperovora) and Cercospora sequoiae blight, which also attack seedlings. Phomopsis blight has been difficult to control in nurseries, but newer developments show promise (12,32). Both blights can cause major losses to eastern redcedar in the field, but Phomopsis blight is not a serious problem after seedlings reach age 4.
Newly established seedlings are subject to frost-heaving, and foliage may occasionally be damaged by winter injury (23). Mice and rabbits may damage young eastern redcedar seedlings. Livestock generally avoid biting seedlings or trees but may trample the plants and their roots while grazing. During times of scarce food, deer will heavily browse eastern redcedar and destroy most reproduction (11,20). Redcedar withstands the weight of snow fairly well, but it has only moderate resistance to ice damage (8). Although the species is generally very tolerant to drought and temperature extremes, the author observed considerable mortality in west central Arkansas associated with the extremely hot, dry summer of 1980.
Fire Management Considerations
In the absence of fire, eastern redcedar thrives and may eventually dominate prairie or forest vegetation [1,5,13,17]. Prescribed fire is generally effective at controlling eastern redcedar invasion in grasslands [13,77]. Spring burning is appropriate for eastern redcedar treatment because leaf water content is relatively low in late spring . Spring burns usually kill eastern redcedar up to 3.3 feet (1 m) tall [25,29,73,85], though larger trees up to 20 feet (6 m) are occasionally killed . In an Illinois barren community, eastern redcedar seedlings and saplings were eliminated for at least 20 years following a spring prescribed fire . In a Tennessee study over 20 years, eastern redcedar establishment was prevented using late winter prescribed surface fires annually and at 5-year intervals. On sites without fire treatment, eastern redcedar was recruited . On a Texas site, prescribed burning reduced eastern redcedar from an average preburn density of 19 stems/acre (0-49 stems/ha) to 0 stems/acre (measured 4 months after the burn), with the unburned control averaging 21 stems/acre (54 stems/ha) .
Though widely used, broadcast burning disadvantages include incomplete control, a narrow annual treatment window, and integrated prefire (to accumulate fine fuel) and postfire (to allow recovery of grasses) grazing management required to improve results . Degree of control depends on tree height, amount and distribution of herbaceous material that serves as fuel, backfire or headfire, and weather conditions favoring ignition of tree crowns .
Eastern redcedar trees <6 feet (1.8 m) tall are easily killed by prescribed burns with adequate grass fuel (~2,000 lbs/acre (2,268 kg/ha)) [17,39,77]. A Missouri study found that eastern redcedar mortality depended chiefly on the ratio of the amount of surface fuel to the amount of eastern redcedar foliage to be consumed (higher ratio = greater mortality). The ratio was affected both by size of the tree and density of the crown. Mortalities for eastern redcedar with very low, low, moderate, and high density crowns were 90%, 82%, 66%, and 35% respectively . Eastern redcedar is somewhat less susceptible to fire as tree size increases, so fire intensity must increase to scorch the crown of taller trees [37,85,94]. Larger trees may escape fire due to thicker bark, higher canopies , and a low fuel to foliage ratio . Headfires running with a 5- to 20-mph wind may be necessary to create flames that engulf the lower parts of large trees . Controlling trees >6 feet tall often requires more fuel than the range's potential production .
Fire intensity and tree mortality are reduced further in dense stands of large trees because junipers reduce production of fine fuels . The susceptibility of small eastern redcedar trees is enhanced because canopies of smaller trees do not have a large effect on surrounding herbaceous vegetation and stems are in close proximity to fine fuel . In a Missouri burn, large tree mortality depended on amount of herbaceous fuel and density of crowns. Trees having crowns with sparse foliage exhibited 90% mortality. Trees having larger crowns with dense foliage showed 35% mortality. Light crowned trees had more foliage beneath them than did densely crowned trees. Temperatures the day of the burn ranged from 28 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 to 15 oC), the lowest relative humidity was 26%, and winds averaged 4.7 mph [29,85].
Two prescribed fires conducted 1 week apart on tallgrass prairie in Missouri had varying results. The 1st fire occurred with higher humidity and wetter fuels, resulting in a less severe burn that allowed even eastern redcedar stems 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in diameter to survive. Drier fuel conditions and lower humidity during the 2nd burn resulted in relatively greater fire severity that killed 93 to 100% of eastern redcedar up to 3.5 inches in diameter .
Because eastern redcedar growth rate and resistance to prescribed fire treatments increases at 15 to 20 years, control of invading trees is most effective at less than 10 years of age and 6.6 feet (2 m) tall . Eastern redcedar stands are often a mixture of tree sizes, and fuel loadings vary, so it is difficult to predict the extent of mortality following prescribed fire. In an Oklahoma study, eastern redcedar mortality for small (2 to 5 feet (0.6-1.5 m)), medium (5 to 8 feet (1.5-2.4 m)), and large (8 to 16 feet (2.4-4.9 m)) trees was 82, 54, and 39%, respectively. Fuel loads ranged from 1,300 to 6,100 lbs/acre (1,474-6,917 kg/ha), and tree mortality increased with increasing fuel load . Studies at Leavenworth Barrens Nature Preserve found spring prescribed burning was ineffective at controlling eastern redcedar greater than 1.6 inches (4 cm) in diameter; however, tree girdling in the fall followed by prescribed burning in the spring resulted in >50% immediate reduction of eastern redcedar with most of the remaining trees dying during the 1st growing season after treatment. Subsequent burning virtually removed eastern redcedar from the site . Use of defoliating herbicides prior to prescribed burning increases the leaf litter and may improve the effectiveness of fire treatments by increasing fire intensity [41,42]. Desiccation of eastern redcedar foliage increases crown scorch and mortality due to prescribed fire by promoting crown fire . Individual tree ignition following prescribed burning may be effective for removing any surviving eastern redcedar [40,93]. Picloram and/or cutting treatments may also be effective in removing larger eastern redcedar not killed by prescribed burning [93,94,117].
Broad-scale Impacts of Fire
Eastern redcedar seedlings and saplings are very susceptible to fire; they may be eliminated from a site following winter or spring prescribed burning [5,6]. Eastern redcedar mortality decreases as tree size increases, due to relatively thicker bark, sparse fine fuels beneath the canopy, and greater vertical distance of the upper foliage from lethal temperatures [25,37,57,93,94,95]. In a Nebraska prescribed fire study, eastern redcedar height-class mortality means were :
|<3.3 feet (1 m)||88%|
|3.3 to 6.6 feet (1-2 m)||60%|
|6.6 to 9.9 feet (2-3 m)||35%|
|>9.9 feet (3 m)||10%|
In Leavenworth Barrens Nature Preserve, Indiana, low-severity spring prescribed burns, exhibiting irregular burn patterns, were only effective in killing small diameter eastern redcedar (1.5 inches (4 cm) basal diameter), while larger trees were unaffected . A study of prescribed fire in a Missouri eastern redcedar glade found that spring burning killed all trees up to 1.5 feet (0.5 m) tall but only 7% of the trees taller than 6.5 feet (2 m) .
Immediate Effect of Fire
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
Tree without adventitious bud/root crown
Initial off-site colonizer (off-site, initial community)
Fire adaptations: Eastern redcedar does not survive on sites subject to frequent fire .
FIRE REGIMES: Eastern redcedar frequently occurs on sites topographically and edaphically protected from fire, including bluffs, rocky hillsides, shale barrens of Virginia and West Virginia, limestone glades of Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and Arkansas; serpentine barrens of Pennsylvania and Maryland; sandstone cliffs; granite outcrops; sand dunes; and estuarine swamps . Sites where eastern redcedar occurs as a persistent dominant are unlikely to support frequent fire due to rocky, shallow soils and low fuel loads . On shallow soils where litter accumulation is limited, the lack of fuel protects many eastern redcedar stands even where fire occurrence is high . However, in the absence of fire on adjoining uplands, eastern redcedar has been able to spread from these clifftop areas and invade uplands where it occupies a successional role . On deep soils, competing vegetation produces enough litter to support fire. Sufficient fuels to carry fire are usually available on grasslands and old agricultural fields, and a single fire may remove eastern redcedar from a site .
Fire suppression has resulted in the invasion of eastern redcedar into grasslands and savannas [58,131]. In areas that once burned periodically, eastern redcedar was protected from fire on dry or rocky sites lacking sufficient herbaceous fuel to carry fire. As fire frequency decreased, eastern redcedar invaded adjacent and apparently stable plant communities. Subsequently, individual eastern redcedars have increased in size and coverage, and stand density has increased. Large trees and dense stands shade or otherwise inhibit growth of desired herbaceous vegetation . In as little as 30 years after a fire, a treeless pasture can be converted to a closed canopy eastern redcedar forest [67,131].
A study of a cedar glade in southern Missouri found that fires occurred every 3.2 years during the presettlement period (1630-1870). After 1870, fire frequency decreased to 22 years . In a post oak savanna in southern Missouri, a study of fire scars on post oak, shortleaf pine, and eastern redcedar indicated a mean fire free interval of 4.3 years between 1700 and 1810. The period between 1785 and 1810 showed the most extensive evidence of fire, and fire frequency declined after 1860 (coincident with European settlement) .
FIRE REGIMES for plant communities and ecosystems where eastern redcedar is a common associate are summarized below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|sugar maple||Acer saccharum||> 1000|
|sugar maple-basswood||Acer saccharum-Tilia americana||> 1000 |
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||74,97]|
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium||97]|
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||97,138]|
|blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass||Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii||97,107,138]|
|sugarberry-America elm-green ash||Celtis laevigata-Ulmus americana-Fraxinus pennsylvanica||< 35 to 200|
|Atlantic white-cedar||Chamaecyparis thyoides||35 to > 200|
|beech-sugar maple||Fagus spp.-Acer saccharum||> 1000 |
|juniper-oak savanna||Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana||< 35|
|Ashe juniper||Juniperus ashei||< 35|
|cedar glades||Juniperus virginiana||3-22 [58,97]|
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||97,100,138]|
|jack pine||Pinus banksiana||34]|
|shortleaf pine||Pinus echinata||2-15|
|shortleaf pine-oak||Pinus echinata-Quercus spp.||< 10|
|slash pine||Pinus elliottii||3-8|
|slash pine-hardwood||Pinus elliottii-variable||131]|
|longleaf-slash pine||Pinus palustris-P. elliottii||1-4 [89,131]|
|longleaf pine-scrub oak||Pinus palustris-Quercus spp.||6-10 |
|red pine (Great Lakes region)||Pinus resinosa||10-200 (10**) [34,48]|
|red-white-jack pine*||Pinus resinosa-P. strobus-P. banksiana||10-300 [34,66]|
|eastern white pine||Pinus strobus||35-200|
|eastern white pine-eastern hemlock||Pinus strobus-Tsuga canadensis||35-200|
|eastern white pine-northern red oak-red maple||Pinus strobus-Quercus rubra-Acer rubrum||35-200|
|loblolly pine||Pinus taeda||3-8|
|loblolly-shortleaf pine||Pinus taeda-P. echinata||10 to < 35|
|Virginia pine||Pinus virginiana||10 to < 35|
|Virginia pine-oak||Pinus virginiana-Quercus spp.||10 to < 35|
|sycamore-sweetgum-American elm||Platanus occidentalis-Liquidambar styraciflua-Ulmus americana||131]|
|eastern cottonwood||Populus deltoides||97]|
|aspen-birch||Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [34,131]|
|black cherry-sugar maple||Prunus serotina-Acer saccharum||> 1000|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||< 35|
|northeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||10 to < 35|
|southeastern oak-pine||Quercus-Pinus spp.||< 10|
|white oak-black oak-northern red oak||Quercus alba-Q. velutina-Q. rubra||< 35|
|northern pin oak||Quercus ellipsoidalis||< 35|
|bear oak||Quercus ilicifolia||< 35 >|
|bur oak||Quercus macrocarpa||131]|
|oak savanna||Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [97,131]|
|chestnut oak||Q. prinus||3-8|
|northern red oak||Quercus rubra||10 to < 35|
|post oak-blackjack oak||Quercus stellata-Q. marilandica||< 10|
|black oak||Quercus velutina||< 35|
|live oak||Quercus virginiana||10 to131]|
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||97]|
|eastern hemlock-yellow birch||Tsuga canadensis-Betula alleghaniensis||> 200 |
More info for the terms: climax, cover, succession
Eastern redcedar is both a pioneer and an invader [13,30,134]. It colonizes relatively open patches of eroded bare ground and is most competitive on exposed dry sites; disturbed areas including abandoned pastures and cultivated fields, eroded areas, and open woods thinned by timber harvest [29,36,46,68,91,103,127,134,140]. Eastern redcedar does not establish well in more competitive, denser vegetation cover that occurs with less erosion or later in succession . However, in Texas savannas, eastern redcedar establishment may by facilitated by post oak trees, which are then overtopped and outcompeted by eastern redcedar .
Eastern redcedar a well-known invader in the prairie region [13,18,30,93]. Invasion into prairie grasslands is attributed primarily to absence of fire [9,22,93,117], and may be exacerbated by certain grazing practices [22,127]. A readily available seed source resulting from eastern redcedar plantings and ability to capitalize across a wide range of environmental conditions have also encouraged eastern redcedar establishment in grasslands . Eastern redcedar is thus an early to mid-seral component in cedar glades that result from the invasion of grasslands [11,18,58]. These glades eventually succeed to oak (Quercus spp.) -hardwood forests . Eastern redcedar glades may persist as subclimax vegetation where soil development is low and rock outcrops are abundant. The scarcity of soil precludes establishment of other species .
Eastern redcedar forms persistent, stable communities in limestone outcrop areas of the Interior Low Plateaus and the Limestone Valleys and Uplands Soils Province. These communities have been regarded as climax, subclimax, and edaphic climax. In particular, eastern redcedar stands may persist as subclimax forest on eroded limestone slopes and knobs . Persistent stands occurring on outcrops are subject to windthrow due to exposure and shallow soil. The result is a periodic opening of the stand favoring continued eastern redcedar establishment .
On the Atlantic coast, eastern redcedar may promote recruitment of mid-successional woody seedlings (and impact their distribution) passively through distribution of seeds by perching birds. Recruitment may be actively promoted through increased seedling survival due to eastern redcedar alterations in microclimate and edaphic factors. In a Virginia study, fleshy-fruited seeds of woody species were more abundant in the seed bank beneath eastern redcedar than in exposed sites. Photosynthetically active radiation was reduced under eastern redcedar canopies, and soil temperature fluctuations were moderated during the growing season. Moisture content, organic matter, and chlorides were higher for soils under eastern redcedar than in exposed sites .
Eastern redcedar reproduces solely by seed; there is no natural asexual regeneration. Eastern redcedar trees reach sexual maturity at approximately 10 years [29,79]. Reproductive activity may be influenced by tree size and site characteristics. A study in the Tennessee Valley found that in a managed parkland, 86% of eastern redcedar >4 inches (10 cm) dbh were reproductively active and the sex ratio was 1:1. In mature xeric forests on the rocky mountainsides only 41% of eastern redcedar >4 inches dbh were reproductively active, and the male:female sex ratio was 2.2:1. The likelihood of reproductive activity 1) was lower on the mountainside than in the parkland, 2) increased with tree diameter and height, 3) increased with diameter growth rate, and 4) decreased with shading by neighboring trees .
Breeding system: Eastern redcedar is dioecious [29,46,55,63,79,110,124,127]. Though rare, monoecious eastern redcedars have been found [55,110,124]. Male trees tend to be taller and have greater diameter growth than female trees, which may contribute to their success as pollen donors .
Pollination: Eastern redcedar pollen is wind-dispersed .
Seed production: Mature eastern redcedar trees produce some seeds nearly every year, but good crops occur only every 2 or 3 years [46,79,127]. Eastern redcedar produces most seed between the ages of 25 and 75, though seed production can occur in trees as young as 10 years and as old as 100+ years .
Seed dispersal: Eastern redcedar seed is dispersed by birds and small mammals [8,13,17,46,79,93,119]. As a result, seedling density is generally greater near trees or along fencelines that provide perching sites . Seeds pass through bird digestive tracts within 30 minutes of ingestion, suggesting many seeds will be deposited near their source trees rather than transported long distances. Seeds mature and are available to birds in winter and early spring when other food is scarce and populations of wintering birds are high .
Seed banking: No information is available on this topic.
Germination: Seeds that pass through animal digestive tracts and those that remain on the ground beneath the trees may germinate the 1st or 2nd spring after dispersal. Most germination of eastern redcedar seed occurs in early spring of the 2nd year after dispersal [46,79,129]. Delayed germination is caused by embryo dormancy and possibly by an impermeable seedcoat. Passage through an animal's digestive tract speeds seed germination .
Seedling establishment/growth: Most natural regeneration of eastern redcedar takes place on relatively poor hardwood or pine (Pinus spp.) sites, along fence rows, or in pastures that are not burned or mowed. Seedlings are commonly established in rather open hardwood stands, adjacent to older seed-bearing eastern redcedar trees . Eastern redcedar seedlings are shade intolerant, so survival is better under open stand conditions . If competition from an overstory is severe, eastern redcedar seedlings may not survive. Once established, however, eastern redcedar survives for extended periods under severe competition . Eastern redcedar seedling establishment may be improved following the removal of litter . On very dry sites, most seedlings are found in crevices, between layers of limestone, and in other protected places where the microclimate is most favorable [46,79]. Seedling development is relatively slow on these adverse sites, although eastern redcedar seedlings withstand drought well . Established seedlings are drought tolerant due to their taproot and relatively small leaf surface [46,132]. During the 1st year, seedlings do not produce much height growth but develop a long fibrous root system [46,79].
Eastern redcedar growth is relatively slow [46,63], though stem volume, sapwood, and heartwood growth rates of eastern redcedar increase when trees reach 15 to 20 years . Trees 20 to 30 years old are generally 18 to 26 feet (5.5-8 m) tall and 2 to 3 inches (5-7.5 cm) in diameter [46,63,79]. Mature trees typically reach 40-70 feet (12-21 m) tall, with a short bole 12 to 28 inches (30-71 cm) in diameter [46,55,63,79,79,86]. Growth rates of eastern redcedar depend largely on stand density, competition from other species, and site quality. These factors probably reflect competition for available soil moisture on most sites . On "good" sites , trees may reach 120 feet (36 m) tall and 4 feet (1.2 m) in diameter [46,79,82]. On dry sites in the prairie region, trees 110 years old are often less than 20 feet (6 m) tall [46,82]. On thin soils where growth is particularly slow, eastern redcedar may have diameters <2 inches (5 cm) after 50 years . An example of aboveground biomass and productivity from 3 Kansas eastern redcedar stands is presented below :
|Age (years)||Density (trees/ha)||Total aboveground biomass (kg/ha)||Biomass C (kg/ha)||Biomass N (kg/ha)||Litter fall production (kg/ha/yr)||Annual aboveground net primary productivity (kg/ha/yr)|
Increased stand density generally results in taller eastern redcedar trees .
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the term: phanerophyte
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Plant Response to Fire
Reaction to Competition
Eastern redcedar should be managed in even-aged stands, judging from studies conducted in northern Arkansas (11). Good growth rates can be maintained by controlling competition and stand densities.
Root development is greatly influenced by the size of soil-filled fissures. Eastern redcedar roots are known to grow extensively in soils in which limestone rocks make up more than 52 percent of the total soil volume (11).
Life History and Behavior
More info for the term: tree
Eastern redcedar has small, inconspicuous flowers that appear from early to late spring [46,132]. Pollination occurs from February (south and east) to May (north and west), and fertilization occurs about a month later. Cones develop on male and female trees in the fall , and seeds mature in 1 season, from late July to mid-November depending on location [44,68,79,114,127,132]. As the ovulate cone develops, greenish fruit-scales form the outer fleshy protective coat of the berrylike cone. Cones change color from green to greenish-white to whitish-blue and finally to bluish as the season progresses. The cones do not open and will remain on the tree until early spring .
Survival and growth of planted stock can be improved by grading the seedlings just after lifting from the nursery beds. Seedlings that are relatively small, topheavy, oversized, damaged, diseased, or insect-infested are discarded (37). Culling after lifting from transplant beds is usually 1 to 3 percent, compared to 5 to 20 percent from seedling beds. Eastern redcedar seedlings should have a stem diameter of at least 4.0 mm (0.16 in), but preferably 5.6 mm (0.22 in), at the ground line. It is also desirable for seedlings to have top green weights that are no more than 3 to 4 times heavier than the roots (26,36). Seedlings having higher top-to-root ratios are more likely to die under environmental stress.
Survival of eastern redcedar plantations has been variable, with low survival being attributed to poor seedling quality, low site quality, and competition. If these factors are considered carefully, however, eastern redcedar plantations can be successfully established. One early plantation established from hand-pulled wildlings had 84 percent survival. In a Nebraska plantation, established with 2-0 seedlings from 204 sources of eastern redcedar and Rocky Mountain juniper, first-year survival averaged 95.1 percent. Four other plantations from these sources averaged more than 85 percent survival, although one in Oklahoma had only 19.7 percent (11,38).
Most natural eastern redcedar regeneration takes place on relatively poor hardwood or pine sites, along fence rows, or in pastures that are not burned or mowed. Seedlings are commonly established in rather open hardwood stands, adjacent to older seed-bearing eastern redcedar trees, as a result of birds eating the fruit and subsequent deposition of seeds (34). On very dry sites, most seedlings are found in crevices, between layers of limestone, and in other protected places where the microclimate is most favorable. Seedling development is relatively slow on these adverse sites, although eastern redcedar seedlings withstand drought rather well (4,22). First-year seedlings do not produce much height growth but develop a long fibrous root system (15). Plantings from 2-0 stock showed good growth in some areas, however, exceeding 45 cm (17.8 in) in height after one growing season (38). If competition from an overstory is rather severe, eastern redcedar seedlings may not survive. Once established, however, eastern redcedar survives for extended periods under severe competition (15,28). Eastern redcedar also competes very well in shelterbelts, where it is the most common natural reproduction (43).
Seed Production and Dissemination
After fanning to remove leaves, twigs, and other debris, the seeds can be extracted by running the fruit through a macerator and floating the pulp and empty seeds away. Dried fruits should be soaked in water several hours before macerating. Since eastern redcedar fruits are resinous, they should be soaked in a weak lye solution for 1 or 2 days. The soaking helps separate the oily, resinous pulp from the seeds and aids further washing, flotation, and stratification. This treatment should be followed by thorough washing (45). The cleaned seeds are ready for use, or they can be dried to 10 to 12 percent moisture content for storage at -7° C (20° F) to 4° C (40° F). The number of cleaned seeds per kilogram ranges from 81,570 (37,000/lb) to 121,250 (55,000/lb) and averages 96,120 (43,600/lb) (23). If seeds are to be sown in the spring, they should be soaked in a citric acid solution (10,000 ppm) for 96-hours, placed in moist-warm stratification at 24° C (75° F) for 6 weeks, and finally placed in moist-cool stratification at 5° C (41° F) for 10 weeks. Germination is best if fresh seeds are used. If desired, dry, stored seeds may be sown in mid-July, which accomplishes moist-warm stratification, and the over-winter period accomplishes moist-cool stratification for early spring germination (46).
In nursery practice, eastern redcedar seeds are broadcast or sown in rows spaced 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 in) apart in well-prepared seedbeds and covered with about 6 mm (0.25 in) of firmed soil or sand. Stratified seeds should be sown in the spring early enough to allow completion of germination before air temperatures exceed 21° C (70° F). Germination of stratified seed usually begins in 6 to 10 days after sowing and is completed in 4 to 5 weeks. Untreated seeds may be sown in the fall and mulched until germination during the second spring after planting (23); but when fruits are depulped, dried, and stored at -16° C (4° F), seeds germinate the first spring after summer sowing (46). Germination is epigeal.
Fruits are eaten by birds and other animals, which are important vectors for seed dissemination (20). Seeds that pass through animal digestive tracts and those that remain on the ground beneath the trees may germinate the first or second spring. Most of the natural germination of eastern redcedar seed takes place in early spring of the second year after dispersal.
Eastern redcedar may also be established by hand direct-seeding or machine-sowing (29). Both hand and furrow seeding are successful when stratified seeds are used at the rate of 1.35 kg/ha (1.2 lb/acre). Seedling catch is best where the amount of litter has been reduced and hardwood competition has been completely removed. The rate of sowing may be adjusted to allow for variations in germinative capacity of the seeds and degree of competition control.
Flowering and Fruiting
Small green conelets begin to develop by early fall or late summer on ovulate trees but grow very little during the winter. They are borne terminally on axillary branches of the new scale-leaves but do not become conspicuous until late February to early spring. At this time the microsporangial walls of the staminate conelets split longitudinally, discharging the mature pollen. Pollen grains lodge at the end of the micropyle of the many ovules in the conelet. Pollination is complete in a few days when the conelet closes.
Growth of the pollen tube is slow at first but becomes active by late May or mid-June. Fertilization occurs in June and the mature embryo is full grown in about 2 months, anytime from late July to mid-November, depending on location. As the ovulate cone develops, greenish fruit-scales form the outer fleshy protective coat of the berrylike cone. Cones change color from green to greenish white to whitish blue and finally to bluish as the season progresses.
Each cone or fruit contains one to four (occasionally more) rounded or angled brownish seeds, 2 to 4 mm (0.08 to 0.16 in) long, often with longitudinal pits. The seed coat has a thick and bony outer layer and a thin, membranous inner layer (23,47).
Growth and Yield
Some of the earliest data on diameter growth in natural eastern redcedar stands is presented in table 2 (3). Site classes mentioned are those described in table 1. Analysis of these data provided equations to compute the height-age relationships in table 3. The relation of height of dominant and codominant trees to d.b.h. and stand density was also determined, after pooling of data for age and site classes (11). Height growth, a reflection of soil depth and fertility, increases with stocking density (fig 1).
Table 2- Average annual diameter growth of dominant eastern redcedar by site
class and stand density¹ Site Class Stand character
IV mm Under-stocked 7.6 8.1 4.6 3.6 Well-stocked - 8.1 4.3 3.0 Over-stocked - 3.8 2.5 1.8 in Under-stocked 0.30 0.32 0.18 0.14 Well-stocked - 0.32 0.17 0.12 Over-stocked - 0.15 0.10 0.07 ¹Based on increment core measurements of 456 trees (3). Table 3- Total height of eastern recedars by age¹ and site class Site Class Growth rings II III m ft m ft 10 4.6 15 3.7 12 15 5.5 18 5.2 17 20 7.6 25 6.1 20 25 8.5 28 7.3 24 30 9.8 32 7.9 26 35 10.7 35 8.8 29 40 11.3 37 9.4 31 45 12.2 40 10.1 33 50 12.8 42 10.7 35 ¹Age was computed using the total number of growth rings; false rings make accurate determinations difficult.
Figure 1- Relation of height to d.b.h. by stocking class.
Other studies in Arkansas have shown that growth and yield are affected by stand density and hardwood competition. In a 45-year-old eastern redcedar stand, highest volume growth was obtained in unthinned stands from which hardwoods had been removed. Volumes averaged 1.96 m³/ha (28 ft³/acre) per year during a 14-year period. This was double the growth of stands where hardwoods were left. A stand containing 432 crop trees per hectare (175/acre), 7.6 cm (3.0 in) d.b.h. and larger grew nearly the same volume after 14 years when 80 percent of the competition was removed as an unreleased stand of 988 trees per hectare (400/acre) (11).
Over a 10-year period in northern Arkansas, completely released stands averaged higher growth in d.b.h., basal area, and volume than stands where only crown competition was removed. The greatest mean d.b.h. growth, 6.4 cm (2.5 in), occurred with the lightest stocking, 124 crop trees per hectare (50/acre). As stocking increased, mean d.b.h. growth decreased. Basal area increase was greatest in stands having 988 crop trees per hectare (400/acre), and as stocking decreased, basal area and volume growth decreased. An initial stocking of 988 eastern redcedar crop trees per hectare (400/acre), averaging about 7.6 cm (3 in) d.b.h., produced over 28 m³/ha (2,000 fbm/acre) in 10 years. A stocking of 432 trees per hectare (175/acre), averaging 10.2 cm (4 in) d.b.h., produced slightly more volume during the same period on similar sites (11).
On most sites eastern redcedar grows slowly, and long rotations are required to produce conventional sawlogs. Because the wood is used for small items, however, and there is wide latitude in acceptable defects, shortening of rotations and intermediate harvesting of merchantable wood are possible. About 20 to 30 years are required for posts and 40 to 60 years for sawtimber (11,25).
Maintaining relatively dense stands can maximize post production. Thinning one or more times before harvest cut hastens sawlog production but may not increase total yield. The ideal density for growing sawlogs is not known, but excessive thinning may promote excessive formation of sapwood and growth of lower branches.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Races and Hybrids Two distinct varieties have been recognized in the United States. Juniperus virginiana var. crebra (Fernald) is a northern form having a narrow crown and slightly pitted seeds. The other variety, J. virginiana var. ambigens, is an intermediate form between eastern redcedar and creeping juniper, J. horizontalis Moench (15).
Although there are no recognized hybrids at this time, evidence is mounting that hybridization does occur. Population studies, especially in the western part of eastern redcedar's range, suggest that considerable introgression and perhaps blending of genetic differences have occurred whenever species' ranges overlap; and that J. virginiana readily hybridizes with J. scopulorum, J. horizontalis, and J. ashei, resulting in juniper populations that contain the germ plasm of two or three species (15). Research in the Ozarks, however, showed no evidence of introgression into J. ashei by J. virginiana where J. ashei was surrounded by J. virginiana (2).
The relatively strong influence of J. scopulorum germ plasm in the western part of the eastern redcedar population suggests that the entire population in the area studied is of hybrid origin (41). This west-to-east flow of J. scopulorum germ plasm was further supported by Flake, Urbatch, and Turner (14), who sampled many of Van Haverbeke's sample trees for terpenoid analysis. He proposed an alternative hypothesis that eastern redcedar of eastern and central North America may have been derived from the western juniper complex.
Barcode data: Juniperus virginiana
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Juniperus virginiana
Public Records: 12
Specimens with Barcodes: 19
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
This widespread species is increasing in abundance in many areas. It is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status and wetland indicator values.
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)
JUVI is available through most nurseries. Cultivars include: Baker’s Blue, Blue Mountain, Brodie, Burkii, Canaerti, Cupressifolia, Dundee, Emerald Sentinel, Glauca, Gray Owl, Hillspire, Idyllwild, Manhattan Blue, Mission Spire, Nova, Pendula, Patt River, Princeton Sentry, Royo, Silver Spreader, Stover, and Taylor. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Take only what you need, leaving the best to reproduce.
Speak to the plant, leave an offering of tobacco or sage before harvesting. The plant will grow back two stems for every one cut.
Humans are another strand in life. Plants sustain us and should be treated as another living being.
Plants were taken care of by extended family groups of women. They were taken care of and watched each year for generations.
Materials harvested were shared and traded with the whole tribe.
Cedar bark was harvested in early June or early July as the bark is more easily removed at that season (Densmore 1974). The gathering of cedar bark was attended with a simple ceremony, followed by a feast. The next day the tree was cut. The bark was removed, and the tree was permitted to remain as it fell, and when thoroughly, dry was used for fuel.
The following information on the Traditional Resource Management (TRM) red cedar was provided by Lynn Youngbuck, who is Cherokee, Chiracahua, and Fox. TRM includes the following:
Juniperus virginiana flowers from March to May. The fruits should be gathered in the fall (September-November) as soon as the berry-like cones become ripe. Red cedar trees come to seed-bearing age in 10 years, and they bear cones every 2-3 years. Seed collection can be done by stripping or picking the berries by hand from the trees, or by flailing the fruits to ground cloths. Be careful to pick only ripe berries. Since the number of filled seeds varies widely from tree to tree, it is important to test the seeds by cutting to determine percent fill. Seeds may be stored as berries or cleaned seeds.
The seeds can be recovered by macerating the fruits and floating the seeds to the top. The addition of detergent to the maceration water helps to separate seeds from the resinous fruits. Red cedar seeds store quite well. They should be dried to 10-20% moisture and stored in a sealed container at cold temperatures.
For best germination, seeds should be removed from the fruits, then the seed coat is softened by treating it with sulfuric acid for 120 minutes. After soaking the seeds in sulfuric acid, follow with 6 weeks of warm stratification at 20 to 30°C (70 to 85°F), or summer planting, then 10 weeks of pre-chilling at 4°C (40°F). Use of fresh seed reduced the warm stratification time. Rather than the acid treatment, two to three months of warm stratification could be used. As an alternative for cold stratification, the seed may be sown in the fall. Germination is delayed at temperatures above 15°C (60° F). Germination is often delayed in red cedar seeds, as seeds are consistently highly dormant.
Red cedar seeds are usually sown in the nursery in the late summer or fall, but may be sown in spring or summer. The seeds of most species should be sown in fall to take advantage of natural pre-chilling. Red cedar seeds are usually drilled in well-prepared seedbeds in rows 15 to 20 cm apart and covered with 0.6 cm of soil. In nurseries with severe climates, such as those in the Great Plains, considerable care must be taken to protect the beds with mulch and snow fences.
Viability of the seed varies considerably from year to year and among lots, but it is never much over 50 percent. Treated seed is usually planted in the spring, either in outdoor beds or in flats in the greenhouse. Two or three years are required to produce plants large enough to graft.
Juniperus virginiana – 14-18 seeds per 110 kg fruit, 96 seeds per gram.
Propagation from cuttings
Cuttings are made 5 to 15 cm (2 to 65 inches) long from new lateral growth tips stripped of older branches. A small piece of old wood, “a heel,” is thus left attached to the base of the cutting. Some propagators believe this to be advantageous. In other cases, good results are obtained when the cuttings are just clipped without the “heel” from the older wood. Cuttings from the current season’s terminal growth also root well.
Cuttings to be rooted in the greenhouse can be taken at any time during the winter or rooted outdoors on heated beds. Exposing the stock plants to several hard freezes seems to give better rooting. Optimum time for taking cuttings is when stock plants have ceased growth (i.e. the late fall-winter propagation period is more successful than summer). For propagating in an outdoor cold frame, cuttings are taken in late summer or early fall. There may be advantages to using bottom heat. Lightly wounding the base of the cuttings is sometimes helpful, and the use of root-promoting chemicals, especially IBA, is beneficial. Recommendations for root-promoting chemicals include the following: 2500 IBA Quick-dip (Alabama), 3000 – 8000 ppm IBA liquid, and 0.3-4.5 percent IBA talc. Medium-coarse sand or a 10:1 mixture of perlite and peat moss is a satisfactory rooting medium. Maintenance of a humid environment without excessive wetting of the cuttings is desirable, as is a relatively high light intensity. A light, intermittent mist can be used. Bottom heat of 60-65°F (12°C) is critical the first six weeks of propagation to allow the basal wound of cuttings to callus.
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
The aromatic oils found in eastern redcedar heartwood repel clothing moths and are widely used in perfumes [4,14,63,79,79]. Aromatic oils are toxic to some ant species (Argentine ant and odorous house ant), and eastern redcedar mulch is effective in discouraging ant colonization . Eastern redcedar oils are also effective in repelling Formosan subterranean termites . Heartwood extractives may inhibit growth of fungi and bacteria . Eastern redcedar heartwood has approximately 10 times the oil extractives of sapwood . Due to a higher proportion of heartwood to sapwood in closed-canopy stands of eastern redcedar, trees grown under closed stand conditions may contain 4 to 5 times as much oil in the bolewood as open-grown trees of the same diameter .
Wood Products: Eastern redcedar heartwood is resistant to attack by termites and has greater commercial value than sapwood . The principal product of eastern redcedar is fenceposts [8,110,117], though it is also used for lumber , poles, boats, paneling, closets, chests, and pencils [63,117]. The aromatic heartwood is commonly used for chests or closet lining [68,110]. On most sites, eastern redcedar grows slowly, and long rotations are required to produce conventional sawlogs. However, because the wood is used for small items and there is wide latitude in acceptable defects, shortening of rotations and intermediate harvesting of merchantable wood are possible. About 20 to 30 years are required for posts and 40 to 60 years for sawtimber .
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
Eastern redcedar establishes well on abandoned surface mines, agricultural fields, and logging sites [18,84] and is used to recover highly eroded, nutrient-poor soils . Use of eastern redcedar for rehabilitating strip-mines is most effective in calcareous spoils due to its slow growth on acid banks . Many cultivars of eastern redcedar are available, with variations primarily based on overall tree shape and the color of female cones . Greater planting success is likely with seed sources of geographic proximity . Planting recommendations include storing seed in fruit for 1 year, then cleaning, scarifying and sowing in the fall. Alternatively, seed can be stored in fruit for 1 year then cleaned and stratified in peat for 100 days at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 oC) and sown in the spring or stratified outdoors in the shade from May until sown in the fall .
Seeds of junipers (Juniperus spp.) have both seed coat and embryo dormancy . Maximum germination of eastern redcedar in minimum time may be achieved by treatment to increase seedcoat permeability and stratification . Eastern redcedar germination is improved by a combination of warm and cold stratification. Either 45 days of warm stratification followed by 60 days of cold stratification, or 60 days warm followed by 45 days of cold stratification yield best results. In lab tests, germination without stratification did not occur at temperatures above 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 oC) . For storage, cleaned eastern redcedar seeds should be dried to 7% moisture content and stored at 20 degrees Fahrenheit (-7 oC) .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Many birds and small mammals eat the berrylike cones of eastern redcedar, especially in winter [8,12,17,110]. Wildlife species that eat eastern redcedar fruits include waxwings, bobwhite quail, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, ring-necked pheasant, wild turkeys, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and coyotes [46,63,79,98]. Deer may browse the abundant foliage of eastern redcedar when no other food is available [46,63,79,105], and are more likely to browse reproductively-active, mature than juvenile eastern redcedars .
Palatability/nutritional value: Eastern redcedar fruits are high in crude fat and crude fiber, moderate in calcium, and high in total carbohydrates . Though considered poor quality forage , eastern redcedar foliage has relatively high calcium content, ranging from 1.9 to 2.6% on sites in the Ozarks .
Chemical analysis of eastern redcedar browse in the Missouri Ozarks (% dry matter) :
Cover value: As an evergreen, eastern redcedar provides good nesting and roosting cover for many birds [17,63,79]. These include nest sites for Cooper's hawks  and roosting sites for eastern screech-owls [15,35], short-eared owls , and saw-whet owls . Dense thickets of eastern redcedar provide good escape and hiding cover for deer and small mammals [17,63,79].
Eastern redcedar is among the best trees for protecting soils from wind erosion and reducing the desiccating effects of wind. It ranks high in the Great Plains shelterbelt plantings because of its ability to withstand extremes of drought, heat, and cold (15). In Nebraska, eastern redcedar was the most suitable species among five combinations tested for single-row field windbreaks (42). The fibrous root system also helps to hold soil in place, especially on shallow soils. Many varieties of eastern redcedar are used as ornamental plantings (19,35). The species is also ranked among the top five for Christmas trees (25). Eastern redcedar is also important as a source of cedarwood oil, which is a natural product for direct use in fragrance compounding or as a source of raw material producing additional fragrance compounds (1).
Ethnobotanic: The red cedar is used by many tribes for incense in purification and ritual (Kindscher 1992). For numerous tribes, the red cedar tree symbolizes the tree of life and is burned in sweat lodges and in purification rites.
The Blackfeet made a tea from the berries of the red cedar to stop vomiting (Kindscher 1992). A
blackfeet remedy for arthritis and rheumatism was to boil red cedar leaves in water, add one-half teaspoon
of turpentine, and when cooled, rub the mixture on affected parts. The Blackfeet also drank a tea made from red cedar root as a general tonic; mixed with Populus leaves this root tea became a liniment for stiff backs or backache (McClintock 1909, Johnston 1970, Hellson 1974).
The Cheyenne steeped the leaves of the red cedar and drank the resulting tea to relieve persistent coughing or a tickling in the throat. It was also believed to produce sedative effects that were especially useful for calming a hyperactive person. Cheyenne women drank the red cedar tea to speed delivery during childbirth (Grinnell 1962). The Cheyenne, along with the Flathead, Nez Perce, Kutenai, and Sioux, made a tea from red cedar boughs, branches, and fleshy cones, which they drank for colds, fevers, tonsillitis, and pneumonia (Hart 1976).
As a cure for asthma, the Gros Ventres ate whole red cedar berries or pulverized them and boiled them to make a tea. They also made a preparation from the leaves mixed with the root, which they applied topically to control bleeding (Kroeber 1908). The Crows drank this medicinal tea to check diarrhea and to stop lung or nasal hemorrhage. Crow women drank it after childbirth for cleansing and healing (Hart 1976).
The young leafy twigs of the red cedar were officially listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia from 1820 to 1894 as a diuretic (Kindscher 1992). The distilled oil of the red cedar has been officially listed as a reagent in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia since 1916 (ibid.).
The wood of red cedar is very durable, and was used for lance shafts, bows, and other items. Flutes made from red cedar wood were highly regarded by the Cheyenne. Cedar boughs were used for bedding. The Menomini wove mats of cedar bark. The mats were used for roofing temporary structures, for partitions, floor mats and wrappings, and for various purposes in the canoes.
Ornamental: Seedlings of red cedar are ordinarily used as stock for grafting ornamental juniper clones. Red cedars are often used as ornamentals for their evergreen foliage. Most cemetery plantings include old red cedar trees and many younger dwarf junipers. All of the native junipers are valuable ornamental species, and many horticultural varieties have been developed. Red cedar is widely used in shelterbelts and wildlife plantings. The close-grained, aromatic, and durable wood of junipers is used for furniture, interior paneling, novelties, and fence posts. The fruits and young branches contain aromatic oil that is used in medicines.
Wildlife: 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 numerous 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.
Juniperus virginiana — its common names include red cedar, eastern red-cedar, eastern redcedar, eastern juniper, red juniper, pencil cedar, and aromatic cedar — is a species of juniper native to eastern North America from southeastern Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and east of the Great Plains. Further west it is replaced by the related Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky Mountain Juniper) and to the southwest by Juniperus ashei (Ashe Juniper).
In the Lakota language, its name is Chansha, "redwood" or Hante'. In its native range it is commonly called "cedar" or "red cedar," names rejected by the American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature  as it is formally classified as a juniper, not a true cedar. Notwithstanding this, "red cedar" is by far its most commonly used name.
Juniperus virginiana is a dense slow-growing coniferous evergreen tree that may never become more than a bush on poor soil, but is ordinarily from 5–20 m or 16–66 ft (rarely to 27 m or 89 ft) tall, with a short trunk 30–100 cm or 12–39 in (rarely 170 cm or 67 in) diameter. The oldest tree reported, from Missouri, was 795 years old. The bark is reddish-brown, fibrous, and peels off in narrow strips. The leaves are of two types; sharp, spreading needle-like juvenile leaves 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) long, and tightly adpressed scale-like adult leaves 2–4 mm (0.079–0.157 in) long; they are arranged in opposite decussate pairs or occasionally whorls of three. The juvenile leaves are found on young plants up to 3 years old, and as scattered shoots on adult trees, usually in shade. The seed cones are 3–7 mm (0.12–0.28 in) long, berry-like, dark purple-blue with a white wax cover giving an overall sky-blue color (though the wax often rubs off); they contain one to three (rarely up to four) seeds, and are mature in 6–8 months from pollination. The Juniper berry is an important winter food for many birds, which disperse the wingless seeds. The pollen cones are 2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) long and 1.5 mm (0.059 in) broad, shedding pollen in late winter or early spring. The trees are usually dioecious, with pollen and seed cones on separate trees.
- Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana is called eastern juniper / redcedar. It is found in eastern North America, from Maine, west to southern Ontario and South Dakota, south to northernmost Florida and southwest into the post oak savannah of east-central Texas. Cones are larger, 4–7 mm; scale leaves are acute at apex and bark is red-brown.
- Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola (Small) E.Murray (syn. Sabina silicicola Small, Juniperus silicicola (Small) L.H.Bailey) is known as southern or sand juniper / redcedar. Habitat is along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from North Carolina, south to central Florida and west to southeast Texas. Cones are smaller, 3–4 mm; scale leaves are blunt at apex and the bark is orange-brown. It is treated by some authors at the lower rank of variety, while others treat it as a distinct species.
It is a pioneer invader, which means that it is one of the first trees to repopulate cleared, eroded, or otherwise damaged land. It is unusually long lived among pioneer species, with the potential to live over 850 years. The tree is commonly found in prairies or oak barrens, old pastures, or limestone hills, often along highways and near recent construction sites. It is an alternate host for cedar-apple rust disease, an economically significant disease of apples, and some management strategies recommend the removal of J. virginiana near apple orchards
In many areas the trees are considered an invasive species, even if native. The fire intolerant J. virginiana was previously controlled by periodic wildfires. Low branches near the ground burn and provide a ladder that allows fire to engulf the whole tree. Grasses recover quickly from low severity fires that are characteristic of prairies that kept the trees at bay. With the urbanization of prairies, the fires have been stopped with roads, plowed fields, and other fire breaks, allowing J. virginiana and other trees to invade. Trees are destructive to grasslands if left unchecked, and are actively being eliminated by cutting and prescribed burning. The trees also burn very readily, and dense populations were blamed for the rapid spread of wildfires in drought stricken Oklahoma and Texas in 2005 and 2006.
Junipers also benefit from the increased CO2 levels, unlike the grasses with which they compete. Many grasses are C4 plants that concentrate CO2 levels in their bundle sheaths to increase the efficiency of RuBisCO, the enzyme responsible for photosynthesis, while Junipers are C3 plants that rely on (and may benefit from) the natural CO2 concentrations of the environment, although they are less efficient at fixing CO2 in general.
Damage done by J. virginiana includes outcompeting forage species in pastureland. The low branches and wide base occupy a significant portion of land area. The thick foliage blocks out most light, so few plants can live under the canopy. The needles that fall raise the pH of the soil, making it alkaline, which holds nutrients such as phosphorus, making it harder for plants to absorb them. Juniperus virginiana has been shown to remove nitrogen from the soil after invading prairies. It has also been found to reduce carbon stores in the soil. This reduction in soil nutrients also reduces the amount and diversity of microbial activity in the soil.
Cedar waxwings are fond of the "berries" of these junipers. It takes about 12 minutes for their seeds to pass through the birds' guts, and seeds that have been consumed by this bird have levels of germination roughly three times higher than those of seeds the birds did not eat. Many other birds (from bluebirds to turkeys) and many mammals also consume them.
The fine-grained, soft brittle pinkish- to brownish-red heartwood is fragrant, very light and very durable, even in contact with soil. Because of its rot resistance, the wood is used for fence posts. The aromatic wood is avoided by moths, so it is in demand as lining for clothes chests and closets, often referred to as cedar closets and cedar chests. If correctly prepared, it makes excellent English longbows, flatbows, and Native American sinew-backed bows. The wood is marketed as "eastern redcedar" or "aromatic cedar". The best portions of the heartwood are one of the few woods good for making pencils, but the supply had diminished sufficiently by the 1940s that it was largely replaced by incense-cedar.
Juniper oil is distilled from the wood, twigs and leaves. The essential oil contains cedrol which has toxic and possibly carcinogenic properties. The cones are used to flavor gin.
Native American tribes used juniper wood poles to mark out agreed tribal hunting territories. French traders named Baton Rouge, Louisiana, (meaning "red stick") from the reddish color of these poles.
The Native American Ojibwe people use Red Cedar as one of their four sacred medicines along with tobacco, white sage, and sweet grass. It's used as a spiritually purifying herb in midewiwin ceremonies and prayer.
During the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, the Prairie States Forest Project encouraged farmers to plant shelterbelts (wind breaks) made of eastern juniper throughout the Great Plains. They grow well under adverse conditions. Both drought tolerant and cold tolerant, they grow well in rocky, sandy, and clay substrate. Competition between trees is minimal, so they can be planted in tightly spaced rows, and the trees still grow to full height, creating a solid windbreak in a short time.
A number of cultivars have been selected for garden planting, including 'Canaertii' (narrow conical; female) 'Corcorcor' (with a dense, erect crown; female), 'Goldspire' (narrow conical with yellow foliage), and 'Kobold' (dwarf). Some cultivars previously listed under this species, notably 'Skyrocket', are actually cultivars of J. scopulorum.
In the Missouri and Arkansas Ozarks, eastern juniper is commonly used as a Christmas tree.
The pollen is a known allergen, although not as potent as that of the related Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper), which sheds pollen a month earlier. People allergic to one are usually allergic to both. J. virginiana sheds pollen as early as late winter and through early spring. Consequently, what begins as an allergy to Ashe juniper in the winter may extend into spring, since the pollination of the eastern juniper follows that of the Ashe juniper.
Contact with the leaves or wood can produce a mild skin rash in some individuals.
- Conifer Specialist Group (1998). Juniperus virginiana. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006.
- Flora of North America: Juniperus virginiana
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service: Juniperus virginiana L. eastern redcedar
- Farjon, A. (2005). Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-068-4
- Gymnosperm Database: Juniperus virginiana
- Adams, R. P. (2004). Junipers of the World. Trafford. ISBN 1-4120-4250-X
- Kelsey, H. P., & Dayton, W. A. (1942). Standardized Plant Names, ed.2. American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature. Horace McFarland Company, Harrisburg, Pa.
- Barlow, Virginia (Winter 2004). "Species in the Spotlight: Eastern Redcedar, Juniperus virginiana". Northern Woodlands (Center for Northern Woodlands Education) 11 (43): 37. Retrieved July 29, 2009.
- West Virginia University: Cedar-Apple Rust, Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae
- Forest Plan
- Noble Foundation: News Release
- "Wildfires Rip Through Oklahoma". CNN. January 1, 2006. Retrieved April 11, 2007.
- McKinley, Duncan C., and John M. Blair. "Woody Plant Encroachment by Juniperus virginiana in a Mesic Native Grassland Promotes Rapid Carbon and Nitrogen Accrual." Ecosystems 11.3 (Apr. 2008): 454-468.
- Norris, Mark D., John M. Blair, and Loretta C. Johnson. "Altered Ecosystem Nitrogen Dynamics as a Consequence of Land Cover Change in Tallgrass Prairie." American Midland Naturalist 158.2 (Oct. 2007): 432-445.
- McKinley, Duncan C., and John M. Blair. "Woody Plant Encroachment by Juniperus virginiana in a Mesic Native Grassland Promotes Rapid Carbon and Nitrogen Accrual." Ecosystems 11.3 (Apr. 2008): 454-468.
- Sabine, J.R. (1975). "Exposure to an environment containing the aromatic red cedar, Juniperus virginiana: procarcinogenic, enzyme-inducing and insecticidal effects". Toxicology (Elsevier) 5 (2): 221–235. doi:10.1016/0300-483X(75)90119-5. PMID 174251.
- USDA Fact Sheet
- Welch, H., & Haddow, G. (1993). The World Checklist of Conifers. Landsman's. ISBN 0-900513-09-8.
Names and Taxonomy
virginiana L. (Cupressaceae) [33,36,53,54,55,68,71,76,101,110,114,118,129,130]. The two recognized varieties of this species are J. virginiana
var. virginiana [71,129] and southern redcedar (J. virginiana var.
silicicola (Small) J. Silba) . Adams  described southern redcedar
as a variety of eastern redcedar based on similarity of morphological
characteristics and volatile leaf oils. However, southern redcedar
has previously been described and is still accepted by some authors as a
distinct species, J. silicicola . This species summary refers
to both varieties of eastern redcedar; information specific to variety is noted.
Hybrid swarms of eastern redcedar and creeping juniper (J. horizontalis)
occur on the coast of Maine and in the Driftless Area according to morphological,
terpene, electrophoretic, and cytological data analysis [44,96,106]. Based on
morphological variation, hybrid swarms of eastern redcedar and Rocky Mountain juniper
(J. scopulorum) occur in the Texas panhandle and the northern Great Plains
[45,60,61,65]. Also based on studies of morphological characteristics, hybrid swarms
of eastern redcedar and Ashe juniper (J. ashei) reportedly occur in Oklahoma,
Texas, and Missouri [59,62,65]. However, in a study of terpenoids, Adams and Turner 
found no evidence of hybridization between eastern redcedar and Ashe juniper.