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Eastern red cedar

By: Garden Gate staff
Prickly foliage is the quickest way to identify this weedy evergreen; crush a stem or some needles and they smell like a cedar closet.

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Eastern red cedar Juniperus virginiana

IDENTIFICATION — Prickly foliage is the quickest way to identify this weedy evergreen; crush a stem or some needles and they smell like a cedar closet. During the growing season you’ll also spot blue berries along the branches of older trees. Eastern red cedar reaches 15 to 40 ft. tall and 8 to 20 ft. wide. The wood is slow to rot, so stumps of older trees are hard to remove. It’s also an alternate host of cedar apple rust that affects plants in the apple family.

FAVORITE CONDITIONS — Eastern red cedar prefers full sun to part shade in well-drained to dry and rocky soil.

CONTROL — Birds, which feed on the small berries, help to spread this weedy evergreen. When the plant is a seedling, pull or dig it out of the ground. If it’s too large for this, spray the plant with a nonselective herbicide, such as Roundup® Poison Ivy & Tough Brush Killer Plus in spring or late summer. Or cut down the tree and dribble or brush on a systemic stump killer around the edges where the sap is flowing. It’s absorbed into the wood and kills the roots. Be careful — it can kill any plant it gets on.

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