4741 Princeton Rd.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Juniperus virginiana, known as eastern red cedar, is an evergreen, aromatic tree with trunk often angled and buttressed at base and narrow, compact, columnar crown; sometimes becoming broad and irregular. Pyramidal when young, Eastern red cedar mature form is quite variable. This evergreen usually grows 30-40 ft. but can reach 90 ft. Fragrant, scale-like foliage can be coarse or fine-cut, and varies in color from gray-green to blue-green to light- or dark-green. All colors tend to brown in winter. Pale blue fruits occur on female plants. Soft, silvery bark covers the single trunk.

The eastern red cedar’s dense pyramid shape makes it excellent for growing as windbreaks and screens. Its juicy berries are consumed by many kinds of wildlife, including the cedar waxwing, named for this tree. Its evergreen foliage provides nesting and roosting cover for sparrows, robins, mockingbirds, juncos, and warblers.  

The eastern red cedar is an ancient tree, dating to aboriginal America, where fossil evidence indicates it covered large portions of the continent. Early explorers first observed the eastern red cedar at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564. It was prized by Colonial craftsmen for furniture, rail fences, and log cabins, as it had superior weathering capability and was easy to work with. The wood was a staple of the pencil industry for over a century until supplies became exhausted and the industry switched to more plentiful western cedars.

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