Eastern Redcedar

(Juniperus virginiana ‘Canaertii’)


According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, prior to European settlement, native eastern redcedar was not a widespread species in this state. It inhabited only areas where it was protected from naturally occurring fires that swept the open landscapes. However, as an early and aggressive colonizer of altered/stripped landscapes, along roadsides and in fencerows, redcedar has become a common sight and can become a “land management problem”. That’s the downside.


The upside is that redcedar, which is not a cedar at all, but a juniper – Juniperus virginiana – is an attractive tree. It’ll grow just about anywhere and has the best drought resistance of any of the native eastern U.S. conifers. In addition to making a great Christmas Tree, redcedar can live for hundreds of years, at which time, its peeling bark and craggy growth make it a gorgeous and grizzled sentinel in the landscape. Redcedar makes a beautiful and aromatic wood, and female trees produce striking, blue berry-like cones that, in addition to being pretty, provide meals for several mammals and birds. And, full disclosure, deer also will nibble on the foliage.


One improved cultivar of this native tree — also known as a nativar — ‘Canaertii’, is a female clone with profuse, quarter-inch “frosted” blue cones that are beautifully ornamental. It is fast growing with a pyramidal shape that opens with age. Trees may eventually reach 50 feet and, unlike their native parent, they stay green through the winter.


An attractive grouping of four Canaertiis is growing and thriving in Mizzou Botanic Garden’s Native Missouri Tree Collection at the corner of College Avenue and Rollins Street, near the Life Sciences Center.


Note: Redcedar should not be planted within a few hundred yards of plants from the Rosaceae family, including apples, hawthorns and serviceberries. A redcedar-hosted rust fungi can cause bright orange to red leaf spots on those plants and their fruits.


Easter Redcedar


Written by Jan Wiese-Fales | Photos by Chris Starbuck