Juniperus virginiana L.

eastern red cedar, Virginia pencil cedar
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Juniperus virginiana
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Juniperus virginiana: Broad pyramidal shape of the tree all year round

Broad pyramidal shape of the tree all year roundFibrous bark of the trunk, flaking in vertical stripsBranch with twigs covered with small scale-like leaves and numerous glaucous mature female cones 5 mm in diam; seed scales are ± fleshy and do not separate

Juniperus: Ancient Latin name for juniper

virginianus, -a, -um: from Virginia (NE United States)


Habit: Evergreen, generally dioecious tree up to 30 m tall with brown to grayish bark that flakes in long thin flakes and a pyramidal crown, with very thin twigs.

Leaves: opposite and decussate in compressed nodes, persistent, simple, 1-2 mm long, scale-like, ovate, with a broad and decurrent base, sometimes glaucous, with an abaxial resin gland, appressed to the short internodes in such a way that the stem can hardly be seen; young leaves (sometimes present also in old branches) are more elongate, almost acicular.

Male cones: solitary, terminal, 2-3 mm long, ovoid or ellipsoid, yellowish. Female cones: solitary, terminal, inconspicuous.

Mature female cones: 5-6 mm in diam., ± ovoid, erect, glaucous, bluish-brown, formed by ± fused fleshy seed scales that do not separate when they mature. Each cone bears 1-4 seeds.


Female cones appear at the end of winter or beginning of spring and mature in autumn of the first year.

Geographic origin

Native to the E and SE United States.


It is often cultivated as an ornamental, despite being toxic for livestock according to some authors. Its timber is highly valuable and used to make pencils.

It is propagated from cuttings with some difficulty.

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