One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there!

Recognize these blue…things?

Mystery #140

Give us a guess. We’ll check back later!


As one of our readers guessed, this native tree is from the Juniper family–Juniperus virginiana, or Eastern Red Cedar. Many people call these little blue fruits the berries, but as Ms. Flora helped me to understand, they are actually seed cones for this evergreen.

Eastern Red Cedar with seed cones in fall

They get lumpier as they mature and contain 1-3 seeds, that are dispersed far and wide after being eaten over the winter by many species of birds, including Eastern Bluebirds, Cedar Waxwings and Wild Turkey.

You humans probably see the Eastern Red Cedar growing along your roads in the east. It likes sun, and readily grows in disturbed soil. If not mowed and no other trees grow in its space, the cedar grows quite tall and broad. It can be very long-lived–some of your human reports say 850 years!

Easter Red Cedar tree

Unfortunately that nice juniper smell one of our readers mentioned comes from the oils in the needles and wood…and makes them very flammable in a fire.


8 thoughts on “One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

      • Just as a thought, your tree doesn’t have cedar-apple rust? Ms. Flora read it’s a fungal problem on the trees located near apple trees. We’re not experts and don’t know what it looks like on the cedar, but might that cause your tree not to bloom? We do know that when Hawthorn trees get a fungus it affects their blooms and ruins the berry crop, so figured it might be the case here. Best of luck with figuring it out! Hickory

      • I don’t *think* so. From a visual inspection it doesn’t have any obvious rust issues. I think it’s simply immature or in the wrong aspect or nothing to cross pollinate it with.
        Also it’s a dwarf alpine variety, if that makes a difference

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