Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - March 17, 2016

From: Ocala, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Invasive Plants, Problem Plants
Title: Eastern Red Cedar Roots
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

Would an Eastern Red Cedar root system damage underground irrigation pipes?

ANSWER:

From the Native Plant Database on our website: Eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana) are evergreen, aromatic tree with trunk often angled and buttressed at base and narrow, compact, columnar crown; sometimes becoming broad and irregular. Pyramidal when young, Eastern red-cedar mature form is quite variable. This evergreen usually grows 30-40 ft. but can reach 90 ft. Fragrant, scale-like foliage can be coarse or fine-cut, and varies in color from gray-green to blue-green to light- or dark-green. All colors tend to brown in winter. Pale blue fruits occur on female plants. Soft, silvery bark covers the single trunk.

The most widely distributed eastern conifer, native in 37 states, Eastern red cedar is resistant to extremes of drought, heat, and cold. Red Cedar can be injurious to apple orchards because it is an alternate host for cedar-apple rust, a fungal disease. First observed at Roanoke Island, Virginia, in 1564, it was prized by the colonists for building furniture, rail fences, and log cabins.

Nan Hampton, answered a similar Mr. Smarty Plants question previously and wrote:

The US Forest Service database says:  "Eastern red cedar generally has a shallow, fibrous root system, though roots of mature Eastern red cedar trees may penetrate 25 feet (7.6 m) and lateral roots may reach 20 feet (6 m).  Eastern red cedar seedlings have penetrating taproots and may later develop a lateral taproot system.  The deep, early taproot is usually replaced by an extensive, shallow root system with age.  Even 1st year seedlings begin developing a long fibrous root system, often at the expense of top growth.  The root system may be deep where soil permits, but on shallow and rocky soils eastern redcedar roots are very fibrous and tend to spread widely.  The development of a lateral taproot with age may also enable eastern redcedar to persist on outcrops and shallow soils."

The US Forest Service Silvics Manual says that the soil condition determines whether the tree develops a deep tap root or spreading lateral roots.  In thin rocky soil fibrous lateral roots will be predominant; but, if the soil permits, the root system may be a deep penetrating tap root.  So, if your soil is good, you shouldn't have great concern about lateral roots.  

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

Eastern red cedar
Juniperus virginiana

More Problem Plants Questions

Removing Persimmon plants from the base of Live oaks
October 15, 2015 - I live in Bastrop county and have hundreds of Texas wild persimmons at the base of my huge oak trees. Should I cut some of them? I am worried they are taking up water my oaks need. I like them but do...
view the full question and answer

Management practices to eradicate Johnson grass
September 02, 2006 - Please suggest some eradication methods for Johnson grass. It is established in a field that I want to encourage native wildflowers/plants such as goldenrod, prairie coneflower, blue eyed grass, milkw...
view the full question and answer

Eliminating evasive Celastrus orbiculatus (Oriental bittersweet)
July 21, 2013 - I have Oriental Bittersweet growing pervasively in my shrub garden, strangling my shrubs and growing into my beautiful Victorian porch. I can't keep up with it! What can I do?
view the full question and answer

Injury from non-native Canary Palm from Torrance CA
October 18, 2013 - I got stuck in the eye a yr ago by a Phoenix canariensis. It went through my retina and through the integral chamber and put a stamp on my lense. There was no room for any more err without causing bli...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cocculus carolinus vines
August 04, 2015 - I live in Oklahoma City and want to rid my yard and flowerbeds of Cocculus Carolinus vines, I already have a infestation, I cant count the number of vines that were already established before I found ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.