Juniperus virginiana Linnaeus

Eastern redcedar, a small-sized, slow-growing forest tree, is common to the poor, dry soils of the lower Hudson and Mohawk Valleys, is not common in the higher Adirondack region, and is infrequent in central and western New York, except on barren soils adjoining the Finger Lakes. It is found growing only in open woods and pastures where plenty of sunlight is obtained. The wood is soft, light, fragrant, brittle, dull red in color with contrasting white sapwood, extremely durable in contact with the soil, and is easily worked. It is largely used in the manufacture of pencils, cedar chests, cabinet work, and interior finish. As a post wood, it has few superiors.

Bark - light reddish brown in color, separating in long, narrow shreddy strips fringed along the edges.

Twigs - generally 4-sided on mature trees, green in color from the covering of minute leaves, not flattened or arranged in fan-shaped clusters, becoming reddish brown in color after the fall of the leaves.

Winter buds - minute, covered by the overlapping scale-like leaves.

Leaves - various shades of green to reddish brown in color, persistent 3 to 4 years, of 2 kinds: (1) scale-like, closely overlapping, opposite in pairs, giving the twig a 4-sided appearance; (2) awl-shaped, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, usually on young trees or more vigorous shoots and yellowish green to light bluish green in color, sharp-pointed.

Fruit - a berry-like cone, 1/4 inch in diameter, light blue in color, with bloom at maturity in the autumn of the first year. Fruit remains on the tree during the winter, highly prized by birds. Seeds - 1 to 2, wingless, brown in color, covered with a thin, sweet flesh with resinous flavor.

Distinguishing features - berry-like fruit; 2 kinds of leaves, sharp and awl-like and flat and scale-like.

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