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Juniperus virginiana 'Elegantissima': 'Elegantissima' Eastern Redcedar

Edward F. Gilman, Dennis G. Watson, Ryan W. Klein, and Deborah R. Hilbert


This cultivar of redcedar is an evergreen growing 20 feet tall in an oval form and spreading 8 to 15 feet when given a sunny location. Foliage is tipped with yellow and develops a brownish tint in winter in the north. The fruit is a blue berry on female trees and is ornamental when produced in quantity. Birds devour the fruit and 'plant' it along farm fences and in old, abandoned fields. Some botanists do not separate Juniperus virginiana from Juniperus silicicola.

Figure 1. Middle-aged Juniperus virginiana 'Elegantissima': 'Elegantissima' Eastern Redcedar
Figure 1.  Middle-aged Juniperus virginiana 'Elegantissima': 'Elegantissima' Eastern redcedar.


General Information

Scientific name: Juniperus virginiana

Pronunciation: joo-NIP-er-us ver-jin-ee-AY-nuh

Common name(s): 'Elegantissima' eastern redcedar

Family: Cupressaceae

USDA hardiness zones: 3A through 9B (Figure 2)

Origin: native to North America

Invasive potential: native cultivar

Uses: urban tolerant; bonsai; screen; reclamation; highway median

Figure 2. Range
Figure 2.  Range



Height: 20 to 30 feet

Spread: 8 to 15 feet

Crown uniformity: symmetrical

Crown shape: oval, columnar, pyramidal

Crown density: moderate

Growth rate: fast

Texture: fine


Leaf arrangement: whorled (Figure 3)

Leaf type: simple

Leaf margin: entire, terminal spine

Leaf shape: awl-like, scale-like

Leaf venation: none, or difficult to see

Leaf type and persistence: evergreen

Leaf blade length: less than 2 inches

Leaf color: variegated

Fall color: no color change

Fall characteristic: not showy

Figure 3. Foliage
Figure 3.  Foliage



Flower color: yellow, green

Flower characteristics: not showy


Fruit shape: cone, round

Fruit length: less than 0.5 inch

Fruit covering: fleshy

Fruit color: blue, purple

Fruit characteristics: attracts birds; showy; fruit/leaves not a litter problem

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: branches do not droop; showy; typically one trunk; thorns

Pruning requirement: little required

Breakage: susceptible to breakage

Current year twig color: brown, green

Current year twig thickness: thin

Wood specific gravity: 0.47


Light requirement: full sun, partial sun, or partial shade

Soil tolerances: sand; loam; clay; acidic; alkaline; well-drained

Drought tolerance: high

Aerosol salt tolerance: high


Roots: not a problem

Winter interest: no

Outstanding tree: no

Ozone sensitivity: unknown

Verticillium wilt susceptibility: resistant

Pest resistance: free of serious pests and diseases

Use and Management

The dense growth and attractive foliage make Eastern redcedar a favorite for windbreaks, screens, and wildlife-cover for large-scale landscapes. Its high salt-tolerance makes it ideal for seaside locations. Redcedar can make a nice Christmas tree, and the fragrant wood is popular for repelling insects. Although not currently used as a street tree, its wood is strong, the foliage is clean, and the fruit is small, making it a suitable candidate. With proper pruning to remove lower branches, it should adapt well to street-scapes. Some southern cities have planted the species successfully as a street tree.

Planted in full sun or partial shade, Eastern redcedar will easily grow on a variety of soils, including clay, but will not do well on soils kept continually moist. Growth will be poor in landscapes which are over-irrigated. Plants are difficult to transplant due to a coarse root system, except when quite small. Water until well-established and then forget about the tree. It performs admirably with no care, even on alkaline soil and along the coast. Usually, insects and diseases are not a problem if grown in the full sun. There may be local restrictions on planting this tree near apple orchards because it is the alternate host for cedar-apple rust.

Some nurseries carry a cultivar or two of redcedar.

Other cultivars include 'Burkii'—pyramidal, blue foliage, 15 to 25 feet tall; 'Canaertii'—compact, pyramidal, good fruit production, fairly common in Texas; 'Hillspire' (cupressifolia)—good green color; 'Filifera'—pyramidal, branchlets divided, foliage gray green; 'Glauca' - silver redcedar—narrow, columnar, 15 to 20 feet tall, silvery blue foliage especially in spring; 'Ketlerii'—commonly available in the mid-west, is more open with spaces between branches at the top of the tree, pyramidal; 'Manhattan Blue'—compact, 20 feet tall, pyramidal, foliage bluish green; 'Pendula' - weeping redcedar—branchlets pendulous, to 40 feet tall; 'Pyramidalis Dundee'—pyramidal, purplish green in winter; 'Skyrocket'—silver-blue foliage, narrow columnar form.


Usually none are serious.

Bagworm caterpillars occasionally web foliage and debris together to make bags up to two inches long. The insects live in the bags and emerge to feed on the foliage. Use sprays of Bacillus thuringiensis. The insects can also be picked off the plants by hand.

Juniper scale causes yellowed needles, and infected branches fail to produce new growth. The scale is round and at first white, later turning gray or black.

The juniper webworm webs twigs and needles together, causing them to brown and die. The larva is 1/2-inch-long and is brown with darker stripes. The larvae are often in the densest part of the plant and can go unnoticed.

Mites cause stippled and bronzed foliage.


Twig blights cause death and browning of twigs tips. The diseases may progress down the stem killing the whole branch. Small lesions may be seen at the base of dead tissue. Prune out dead branch tips. Dieback from Kabatina blight appears in early spring, from Phomopsis in summer.

Three rust diseases seen most often are cedar-apple rust, hawthorn rust, and quince rust. The most common is cedar-apple rust. On juniper the first two diseases form galls and orange jelly-like horns in spring. The horns are most likely to form following periods of rainy, warm weather. Spores formed in the horns infect the alternate host. The diseases are more serious on the alternate host than juniper. There may be local restrictions on planting this tree near apple orchards because it is the alternate host for cedar-apple rust. A separation of a few hundred yards may help avoid the disease. Prune out the spore horns when seen in the spring. Do not plant near hawthorns, apples, or crabapples.

Junipers are not tolerant of ice coatings. Expect dieback when junipers are covered with ice for several days. Removing the ice is impractical.

Publication #ENH-489

Release Date:April 9, 2024

Related Collections

Part of Southern Trees Fact Sheets

Related Topics

  • Critical Issue: 1. Agricultural and Horticultural Enterprises
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About this Publication

This document is ENH-489, one of a series of the Department of Environmental Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date November 1993. Revised December 2006 and March 2024. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication.

About the Authors

Edward F. Gilman, professor emeritus; Dennis G. Watson, former associate professor, Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Ryan W. Klein, assistant professor, arboriculture; and Deborah R. Hilbert, UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center; Department of Environmental Horticulture; UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.


  • Michael Andreu
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