Eastern Red Cedar is a sturdy, aromatic, evergreen, pyramid-shaped or columnar tree which usually grows to about 60 feet, though it can reach 90 feet. This species is considered a pioneer tree that colonizes sunny areas that are relatively dry and sterile. Adapted to dry habitats, it is native throughout central and eastern North America and is reported in mountain, piedmont and coastal plane counties of NC. Red Cedar is a wonderfully useful resource. The darker brown-red heartwood (the inner wood) is fragrant, light and durable, even in contact with soil. Because of its rot resistance, the wood is used for fence posts. Because it is aromatic and avoided by moths, it is widely used as lining for clothes chests and closets. Also, the fruits and young branches contain aromatic oil that is used in medicines. Red Cedar is dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants). The male cones are brown and papery, the female cones resemble waxy blue berries. The female berries are used to flavor gin. Red Cedar can spread and colonize in fields if left untended long-term, and in some parts of the country is problematic now that fire is no longer allowed to control it. Birds, like the cedar waxwing, eat the waxy blue berry-like cones (a process that greatly increases seed germination rate). It is an important food source for many other birds, as well as mammals, and it provides very high quality shelter within its thick foliage for many animals, especially in winter. Eastern Red Cedar (which is actually a Juniper, not a Cedar) is a relatively long lived tree, up to 300 years in favorable conditions. Because there is so much variability in the form of individual trees, many cultivars have been developed from outstanding individuals, propagated asexually.