Eastern Redcedar is found throughout the Eastern United States, although in Ohio it predominates in the warmer southwestern quarter of the state where soils are more alkaline (or calcareous). It is the most common evergreen conifer found throughout the entire state, and it is valuable as a large shrub or small tree that will thrive where few other woody plants will grow. It is a pioneer invader of forests that have been clear-cut, fields that have been scraped of topsoil, lands that have been strip-mined, and gorges that have been filled with clay and rocks. It serves as an excellent windbreak and erosion control shrub in nature, and is often seen as one of the large evergreens in old cemeteries.
While also known as Cedar or Redcedar, this species is actually a type of Juniper, reaching a height of 30 feet and width of 15 feet when found in the open, although it is spire-like in youth. Its aromatic heartwood is lavendar-red in color, and is prized for making cedar chests, closet wood lining, cedar shavings, small carvings, pencils, and non-rotting fence posts. As a member of the Cypress Family, it is related to Arborvitae and False Cypress, and is representative of the many types of landscape Junipers it is closely related to that are upright shrubs, spreading shrubs, and groundcovers.
Planting Requirements - Eastern Redcedar tolerates just about any type of soil (fertile, sterile, clay, sandy, thin, or rocky) and non-wet moisture condition (very dry, dry, or moist but well-drained), and adapts well to neutral or acidic soils. It thrives and out-competes most other woody plants in rocky, alkaline, dry soils, especially in full sun to partial sun conditions with minimal soil fertility. It thrives on nelect, and is a good "cover crop" for recently cleared ground, helping to minimize long-term erosion on barren hillsides with its quick establishment under harsh conditions. It can also thrive in the smog, reflected light, and intense heat found in large cities. It grows in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 9.
Potential Problems - Eastern Redcedar, as a native tree, tends to be more healthy than most of the non-native landscape Junipers, but is occasionally susceptible to mites, midges, redcedar bark beetle, and especially bagworm. Tip dieback will occasionally be seen in severe drought summers, when the entire top may die due to lack of water (most commonly seen near rock outcrops). By far the most common pathogens seen on Redcedar are the rusts, where contorted brown and orange structures emerge from the foliage and may be mistaken for "strange fruits". While harmless to Redcedar, the rust spores that are released will invade hawthorns, quinces, apples, and other Rose Family members, infecting them and often destroying their fruits.