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Eastern Juniper (Juniperus virginiana)

Eastern Juniper (Juniperus virginiana) - Also known as Eastern Redcedar

Order: Pinales; Family: Cupressaceae

A fruiting Eastern Juniper (Juniperus virginiana) found in a disturbed area of Gerber Reserve.

(Kansas: Kingman County. Gerber Reserve 37° 40’ 51.12” N, 97° 56’ 59.97” W. A single tree in a disturbed area of the reserve. June 21st, 2012.  Photo by Timothy Eberl.)


An adult Eastern Juniper (left) and a branch bearing fruit (right). Copyright Larry Korhnak, 2009.


Adult Plant Height: Between 15-65 feet tall and often size is dependent on soil quality.

Trunk: The bark is red/brown in color, very easily removed and peels off in layers. In lower quality soils, Juniper does not get any larger than a bush. Juniper has a short, stout, undivided trunk and wide spreading branches.

Leaves:  Younger trees possess small awl shaped leaves that are hairless and oppositely arranged and long (1/8-3/4” in.). Mature trees have scale-like leaves which are small (1/16-1/4” in.), lance shaped and overlapping.

Flowers:  Juniper is dioecious, producing both male and female cones. Male cones (which are abundant) produce yellow pollen and are larger than the female seed producing cones. Cross pollination occurs via wind gusts during the spring.

Fruit: Seed cones are initially green and turn to a light blue/violet color during the autumn and resemble berries. Cones contain from 2-4 (rarely more) brown colored seeds and usually produce them every year.

Flowering Period: Cones develop during late summer or early autumn. Pollen is developed during the late spring-early summer and fertilization occurs during from July-November.

Habitat: Grows best in sunny, dry, field areas but can be found in rocky meadows, upland forests, slopes or cliffs, and roadsides.

Conservation Status: Not threatened in any way.

Distribution: Common throughout the United States and Canada.

Native Status: Juniper is native to the eastern United States and spread West quickly.

Uses: The "berries" of the Juniper are what is used to flavor the liquor known as gin and are highly popular as a spice used to flavor foods. Many locations still farm and sell Eastern Juniper as Christmas trees. The "heartwood" was used by Native Americans to make bows. Often known as Eastern Redcedar, though it is not a "true" cedar!



Northeastern Forestry Service:

North Carolina State University:


Juniperus virginiana

Management of Eastern Redcedar


Elpel, Thomas J. 2004. Botany In a Day: The Pattern Method of Plant Identification. HOPS Press, Pony, Montana. 46.

Images: Top photo: Timothy Eberl, 2012.

Branch and adult tree: Copyright Larry Korhnak, 2011.

Submitted by: Timothy Eberl, 2012.


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