Also called eastern juniper or red juniper, this coniferous evergreen is found in woodland edges, meadows, and other coastal lowlands throughout Eastern North America. Eastern red cedars usually reach between 15 and 60 feet in height, providing nesting sites and protective shelter for birds. As a pioneer species, these rugged trees tend to recolonize cleared or damaged land, often being abandoned agricultural fields or eroded coasts. They tolerate salt sprays, drought, deer, erosion, decay, heat, and cold, but are vulnerable to fire.
Eastern red cedars are characterized by their fragrance, peeling red bark, and scaly, needle-shaped leaves, as well as blue, berry-like cones on female plants. These juniper berries are an important winter food source for many bird species, especially the Cedar Waxwing, which disperse the wingless seeds. In fact, seeds that have passed through birds’ guts are more likely to germinate than seeds that have not. Customarily, many indigenous tribes along the Eastern seaboard have continued to use this cedar wood to fashion bows, mark agreed-upon hunting territories, and build various structures.