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For Your Garden - December 2008

Native trees and shrubs can be used in your garden and landscaping. They provide beauty along with important shelter and food for wildlife. These plants can be enjoyed for many years and require very little care.

red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Red cedar is a medium-sized tree with red-brown bark that splits into long shreds. Two types of leaves are present: tiny flat, triangular leaves that are arranged opposite each other on the stem; and needlelike leaves that may be up to three-fourths inch long. Leaf color varies and may be blue-green, green or yellow-green. Male and female flowers develop on separate trees. The flowers are tiny. The spherical fruit developing from the flowers is dark blue with a white covering, berrylike and contains one or two seeds. Well-drained soil is the preferred habitat for this tree. The densely packed branches and evergreen leaves provide good roosting spots for birds in the winter. Berries are an excellent wildlife food source, too.

Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.

Illinois Range

Native Plant Information

For more information about Illinois native plants, visit our Native Habitat Descriptions, Requirements, and Plant Lists page. The following publications are available from the IDNR on our publications page.


​Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Coniferophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae

Illinois Status: common, native