Name: Juniperus virginiana aka Eastern red cedar
Type of Plant: Needled evergreen tree native to Eastern North America, hardy in Zones 2-9.
Why I Love This Plant: This is one of those “Rodney Dangerfield plants” in our area – it gets no respect. And the reason is that it commonly grows in wild places, and seeds in yards and gardens, often where you don’t want a tall tree to be. This is because the birds plant the seeds when they sit in trees or shrubs in your yard. But I encourage you to leave some, move young ones to places where they can grow large, because of those berries. This tree supports a great deal of wildlife, including over 50 species of birds. Mammals that eat the berries or the foliage include rabbits, foxes, raccoons, skunks, opossums, coyotes, and deer.
These junipers are also wind and salt tolerant, so very well suited for this region.
A Word to the Wise: These are interesting plants because they vary so much from tree to tree. Since they’re usually seed propagated, they can be thin and full, or lean and lanky. Some females have light blue berries and others have dark blue berries. And some stay green in the winter while others turn a rusty brown. So a good plant for the curious and flexible native plant lover…but maybe not for the person who wants a line of identical soldiers.