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Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Family: Rose (Rosaceae)

Common Names: Red cedar, Aromatic cedar, Aromatic Red Cedar, Red juniper, Savin.

The eastern red cedar is not a true cedar (genus Cedrus), it is actually a variety of juniper and a member of the cypress family. It occurs naturally as an upright tree with many small branches, curving sharply upward. It can reach a height of 30 feet and width of 15 feet when found in the open. The foliage is bright green to dark green.

The sapwood is white or light brown. The heartwood is red, ranging from red-brown to red-purple. The wood of the red cedar is fragrant and is used extensively for the manufacture of aromatic oil and furniture — primarily closet linings and panels.

The wood has a natural resistance to rot and insect infestation, and for that reason is often used locally as fence posts. We can find no evidence of use a roofing shakes or shingles, or exterior trim boards; although the wood seems ideal for those uses.

Overall, Aromatic Red Cedar is easy to work, notwithstanding any knots or irregularities present in the wood. It reportedly has a high silica content, which can dull cutters. Aromatic Red Cedar glues and finishes well, though in many applications, the wood is left unfinished to preserve its aromatic properties.

Red cedar is prized for making cedar chests, cedar shavings, small carvings, pencils, non-rotting fence posts, outdoor furniture, birdhouses and as wood for bows. The wood is frequently used as closet paneling and to build closet shelving and organizer modules.