eastern redcedar
Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana

Secondary Names:
pencil cedar

Leaf Type: Evergreen
Texas Native:
Tree Description:

A large tree to 50 feet tall, with a straight, fluted trunk 12" to 24" in diameter and a dense, narrow, conical or columnar crown of dark green foliage.

Range/Site Description:

Scattered throughout East Texas, north and west to Wichita county and south to Colorado county, usually in fencerows, on gravelly ridges, or on dry, rocky hillsides.


Usually dark green, minute, and scale-like, clasping the twig in four ranks so that the twig appears square. The leaves can also be awl-shaped, sharp-pointed, and whitened on young growth or vigorous shoots.


Male and female conelets are borne on separate trees in February or March, at the ends of the smallest twigs. When releasing their pollen, male trees appear golden-colored.


A dark blue, berry-like cone, 0.25" in diameter, maturing in one season, with a waxy coating, the sweet flesh enclosing one or two seeds.


Thin, reddish-brown, turning ash-gray on exposed surfaces, and peeling off in long, shredding strips.


Heartwood is distinctly red or red-brown, the sap­wood white, which makes for a very striking effect when finished for interior woodwork. The wood is aromatic, soft, strong, even-textured, and very durable in contact with the soil. It is used for posts, poles, woodenware, millwork, paneling, closets, chests, and pencils.

Similar Species:

Southern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. silicicola) has smaller fruits and drooping foliage; Rocky Mountain juniper (J. scopulorum) has a western distribution.

Interesting Facts:

Redcedar is the alternate host of a fungus -- cedar apple rust -- that produces an alien-looking, orange, fleshy fruiting body during prolonged wet weather. Baton Rouge, LA is named for this wood and literally means "red stick" in French.

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