eastern red cedar

Juniperus virginiana


Juniperus foetida var. virginiana
Sabina virginiana

Plant Type

Large Tree (greater than 25 ft)

Life Cycle


Typical Size

30-40 ft. tall
10-20 ft. wide

Tolerant of

Deer, Salt Exposure

Inolerant of

Poorly Drained Soil


By seed

Plant Propagation Notes

Seed can be sown outdoors in fall or stratified and sown in spring although germination is often poor. Selected forms have been rooted from cuttings.

Plant Planting Notes

Although it will tolerate shade when young, it should be sited in full or part sun. It will not tolerate continuously wet soil.


This tree is susceptible to twig blight and scale. Bagworms are also a problem. Mites may occur. It is susceptible to rust caused by several species of Gymnosporangium. These diseases require an alternate host, generally an apple or crabapple, to complete their life cycle. The disease causes the formation of hard, brown galls on junipers which produce orange, gelatin-like tendrils in the spring following rain. It is non-injurious to juniper but can cause significant damage on apple.

Wildlife Benefits

Fruit/seeds for birds


Dark blue-green, scale-like, shiny, glandular foliage in a 4 rank arrangement. They are 1/16″ long and lay opposite or in whorls of 3. Young leaves are awl-shaped, thin, prickly, needle-like, and 1/4″ long.


As a conifer, eastern red cedar doesn’t produce flowers. Male pollen cones are yellowish.


Male cones are yellow and occur at branch tips. Female cones are blue, frosted-looking, and abundant. Cones are round, berry-like (1/4″ in diameter), and ripen in the fall of the first year. They are often referred to as berries, although that is botanically incorrect. They have a white waxy covering. Displays from September to February.


The bark of eastern red cedar is gray to reddish-brown. It tends to exfoliate from mature trees in long, thin strips


Diarrhea may occur if large quantities are eaten.


Juniper tea can be made from berryless twigs but should be strained and only consumed in small quantities. Large amounts may cause diarrhea.

Ethnobotanical Use

Eastern red cedar was used medicinally. Native Americans used the wood to make flutes, furniture, fragrance, mats, incense, and spices.

Juniperus virginiana
Juniperus virginiana male cones
Juniperus virginiana female cones
Juniperus virginiana foliage
Juniperus virginiana
Juniperus virginiana bark
Juniperus virginiana range map

USDA Hardiness Zones

3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

Light Exposure

Full Shade

Soil Moisture

Dry, Medium, Moist

Soil Drainage


Soil pH

Acidic (less than 6.0), Neutral (6.0-8.0), Basic (greater than 8.0)

Native in South Carolina?


Plant Native Habitat

Adaptable to a wide variety of habitats including open pastures, fields, roadsides, and fencerows as well as forests and woodlands primarily in upland areas. There seems to be a preference for circumneutral soils, but eastern red cedar is not restricted to these types of soils.

Global Conservation Status (NatureServe)

Secure (G5)

Federal Conservation Status (USFWS)

Not Listed

Distribution Notes

Within South Carolina, eastern red cedar is common in the Coastal Plain, Piedmont, and Mountains.