Eastern Redcedar

a cedar tree grows in the middle of prairie
Red cedar is native but in the absence of fire it can dominate grasslands. This one was photographed at Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman

Prairie Home | Forest Home


This evergreen is usually a small tree within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, but it can grow up to 50’ tall. The leaves are scalelike and dark green but turning a reddish brown in winter. The seed cones are small, round, bluish, berry-shaped and fleshy. The bark is stringy and ranges in color from gray to reddish-brown.

The eastern redcedar is often found in sandy areas or poor soils, old fields, rocky outcroppings and wet soils where fire is unlikely to occur. These resinous trees, with their lower branches often hugging the ground, often “candle” during prescribed burns into spectacular fires.

While eastern redcedar is native it can prove troublesome in native prairies in which fire is eliminated. Thick stands of redcedar can decimate the desirable prairie plants. Control usually consists prescribed burns, but cutting may also be used.

Fascinating Facts

  • The berry-like cones are consumed by many species of birds, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings.
  • The aromatic wood was once used in pencils and still used in chests and cabinets and for carving.
  • Its common name is misleading as it is a juniper rather than a cedar.
  • The eastern redcedar is an alternate host of cedar-apple rust, a fungus disease of apple trees.

Find It

Grey Cloud Dunes Scientific and Natural Area
Schaar's Bluff (Spring Lake Park Preserve)

Want to Help Us Better Understand the Park?

See our iNaturalist project, "The Life of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area" and contribute to it by downloading the iNaturalist app and uploading your sightings of this species, and others, to the project. You can also upload your sightings from your computer.

Last updated: March 7, 2018

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111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul , MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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