Gymnosperm Database
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Tree along the nature walk at North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, NC [C.J. Earle, 2005.10].


Bark of a 35 cm dbh tree at Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge, SC [C.J. Earle].


Just for fun: this car made out of J. virginiana was sold on eBay on 2010.08.16.


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Conservation status

Juniperus virginiana

Linnaeus 1753, p. 1039

Common names

Eastern redcedar, red or eastern juniper (Peattie 1950, Silba 1986), genévrier rouge (Adams 1993).

Taxonomic notes

Two varieties, virginiana and silicicola.


"Trees dioecious, to 30 m, single-stemmed; crown narrowly erect to conical, round, or flattened. Bark brown, exfoliating in thin strips, that of small branchlets (5-10 mm diam.) smooth, that of larger branchlets usually not exfoliating in plates. Branches pendulous to ascending; branchlets generally erect, sometimes lax to flaccid, 3-4-sided in cross section, ca. 2/3 or less as wide as length of scalelike leaves. Leaves green but sometimes turning reddish brown in winter, abaxial gland elliptic or elongate, conspicuous, exudate absent, margins entire (at 20× and 40×); whip leaves 3-6 mm, not glaucous adaxially; scalelike leaves 1-3 mm, overlapping by more than 1/4 their length, keeled, apex obtuse to acute, spreading. Seed cones maturing in 1 year, of 1 size, generally with straight peduncles, globose to ovoid, 3-6(-7) mm, blue-black to brownish blue when mature, glaucous, soft and resinous, with 1-2(-3) seeds. Seeds 1.5-4 mm" (Adams 1993).

Distribution and Ecology

Canada: Ontario, Québec. USA: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin; naturalized in Colorado and Oregon (PLANTS database 2009.03.31). As such, it is the most widely distributed conifer in the eastern United States. See also Thompson et al. (1999). Hardy to Zone 4 (cold hardiness limit between -34.3°C and -28.9°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Distribution data from USGS (1999). Var. virginiana shown in red and var. silicicola in green. Points plotted as tree icons represent isolated or approximate locations.

Big tree

The largest recorded specimens for both varieties are almost identical in size, about 160 cm dbh and 22 m tall.


A tree with a crossdated age of 940 years, found in West Virginia (Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Inc. and the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University 2012). Also, a tree with a crossdated age of 795 years, specimen LTD95A, collected near Leatherwood Creek, Missouri by D.W. Stahle, R. Guyette, M.D. Therrell and M.K. Cleaveland as part of the Ancient Cross Timbers Project (NCDC 2006). The data series for this tree ends in 1979, but it was collected in 1991, so I presume it was dead at the time.


Trees over 500 years old have been found in the Kansas-Oklahoma-Texas area in the course of the Ancient Cross Timbers Project (1999), which has performed ecological, historical/archeological and climatic studies using this species and (primarily) the post oak, Quercus stellata.


Its wood contains an oil that deters moths and is often used to line chests. The wood has also been used for making wooden pencils.




[NCDC 2006] Data accessed at the National Climatic Data Center World Data Center for Paleoclimatology Tree-Ring Data Search Page, 2006.09.08. URL:

Rocky Mountain Tree-Ring Research, Inc. and the Tree Ring Laboratory of Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University. 2012. Eastern OLDLIST: A database of maximum tree ages for Eastern North America., accessed 2012.03.08.

See also

Burns and Honkala 1990.

Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Prasad, Anantha M. and Louis R. Iverson. 1999. A Climate Change Atlas for 80 Forest Tree Species of the Eastern United States. Delaware, Ohio: USFS Northeastern Research Station.

The Vascular Plant Image Gallery.

Last Modified 2014-12-05