Juniperus virginiana, Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana
photos by Dennis Kalma

Scientific Name:
Common Name:
ITIS Number:
NRCS Symbol:
  Juniperus virginiana L. var. virginiana
Red Cedar
Cupressaceae (cypresses)

Plant: small tree, to 20 m

Leaves: two forms, usually on the same tree - needles up to 15 mm long, sharp, 3-sided, entirely green AND scale-like, hugging the twig, not flattened

Twig: four-sided

Bark and Wood: dry and shreddy; heartwood reddish and aromatic

Fruits: globular, hard, whitish to blue-greenish, berries about 5 mm in diameter. Note: After rains small galls exude a heavy, tongue-like gelatinous substance golden-brown in color - these are not the cedar fruits, they are the fruiting bodies of the fungus Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae, the Cedar-Apple Gall

Habitat: infertile soils, old fields

Range: Maine to southern Ontario, Minnesota and North Dakota; south to Texas; east to Georgia

Similar Species: the needle-like leaves are somwhat similar to Juniperus communis, Common Juniper, but that species is a sprawling shrub and does not have the scale-like leaves

Juniperus virginiana tree
tree ~ 6 m
  Juniperus virginiana bark
bark of main trunk ~ 28 cm
  Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae
Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae
fruiting body