Eastern Red Cedar

(Juniperus virginiana)

Illustration of a Red Cedar

This evergreen has a rounded shape with two different kinds of leaves. Most likely you'll find dark green, miniature leaves that look like scales. They are in groups of four finger-like leaves. The other leaf type is found on young trees or new shoots. They have sharply pointed ends with white coloring on the underside. The bark on this tree is just like the northern white cedar, with reddish-brown strips that look shredded vertically. The red cedar grows as high as 30 feet tall. It likes to grow in dry, gravelly soil and rocky ledges in the southern half of the state. It also grows on limestone ridges in the southwestern part of Wisconsin where other trees won't grow. You'll also see the red cedar growing in abandoned fields.

The red cedar's fruit is easy to spot. It has a dark blue berry-like cone, about 1/4 of an inch in diameter. There are four seeds inside the sweet flesh. These fruits make a winter's meal for some birds. Song sparrows sometimes nest on the ground under the cedar. The wood is fragrant and durable. People use it for woodwork in their homes, hope chests, closets, for lead pencils, posts, and poles.