Eastern Red Cedar is an evergreen tree growing to 15-35 feet and taller. Growth forms vary from pyramidal to columnar with a dense, upright branching system. Leaves are scale-like, dark green to glaucous blue often taking a burgundy hue in winter. Bloomy blue seed cones, or 'berries' develop on female plants. These fruits are quite attractive set against green foliage. Eastern Red Cedar will tolerate most well drained soils and thrives in windy settings in full sunlight.
Eastern Red Cedar is an important ecological and economic plant. Cedar waxwings nest within the protective branches and seem to relish the berries and three species of Cedar Hairstreak Butterflies feed on the juvenile foliage. The entire plant produces a pungent oil, which imparts aromatic and protective qualities to the wood. Cedar lumber is quite resistant to insects and decay and is used widely for lining closets and shingling homes. The berries of certain juniper species are crushed and used to make gin and season meats. Eastern Red Cedar is an alternate host for Cedar Apple Rust, a fungal disease that can threaten apple-producing regions.
Eastern Red Cedar is popular in naturalistic landscapes and is often used as a foundation planting. The dark silhouette against a winter sky is quite nice.
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Boston Natural Areas Network
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