Juniper Tree vs Cedar Tree – What’s The Difference

Juniper Tree vs Cedar
Juniper Tree vs Cedar

Trees are planted for numerous reasons that, include them looking beautiful. Additionally, people also often plant them to harvest their wood.

Depending on your requirements, the type of tree that should be planted might vary. Hence, you must go through the list of choices available carefully before making a decision.

Talking about popular trees, Juniper and Cedar trees are both top choices that you can go with.

These come with several unique features that might make people love them. However, a common issue reported is that both trees look quite similar.

When it comes to this, people can easily get confused between the two trees, which is why we will use this article to provide you with a comparison. It should help you understand the trees and how they can be distinguished.

Juniper Tree vs Cedar Tree

Juniper Tree  Cedar Tree
Family; Genus Cyprus; Juniperus Pine; Cedrus
Origin Native to Africa and Asia Native to Himalayas
Leaves Spiny needle-like leaves Flat fane-like
Height 10-90 ft 50-100 ft
Uses Gin production Furniture and ornamental purposes
Hardiness 7-9 6-10

Juniper Tree

Junipers are coniferous trees or shrubs that belong to the Juniperus. The plant has over 67 species that people can select from, and there are about 400 hybrids that can be found spread across the Northern Hemisphere.

juniper tree

A great number of species are used for their timber. The trees and shrubs were originally native to North America, Africa, Asia, and Europe; however, these have spread worldwide ever since. 

These grow worldwide, and the trees can be easily distinguished by looking at their cons and colorful foliage. One type of Juniper is used for landscaping as these retain their color all year.

The famous coniferous bushes/trees have needle-like juvenile seeds. On maturation, they overlap, spread, change to awl-shaped, and arrange themselves in pairs in whorls of three.

In addition to their distinct leaves, the tree also has small cones, referred to as berries.

The cones of these trees are fleshy, berrylike red-brown and are covered in waxy covering that is often grayish blue.

Their maturation takes a round of 1-3 seasons and produces 1-12 seeds, depending on the conditions like water, sunlight, and air.

When matured, this Berry-like cones are used to flavor various food and beverages, particularly alcoholic drink gin.

Gin gas has also taken its name from Juniper, referred to as genever in French.

They have a somewhat bittersweet flavor and spicy fragrance.

Apart from being the main ingredient of gin, various sauces, meat, stuffing, and other liqueurs are seasoned with juniper berries to add unique flavors and cut down the strong wild flavor. 

Furthermore, the oil extracted from the wood of these trees is distilled to be added to a chemical process to produce medicines and is also used in perfumes for their fragrance. 

Additionally, the juniper trees require little to no maintenance, making them a great option. The plant can not only tolerate air pollution, but they are also known for being drought resistant. 

Although people plant junipers for the first two years, the plant must be kept under maintenance. This helps it spread its roots and grow into a durable tree that will last a long time.

That said, some people also plant junipers because of their attractive foliage. This comes in dark green, reddish-brown, or similar colors, making them look beautiful.

People also have the option to turn their trees into shrubs or smaller trees using the Japanese bonsai cutting technique.

The only thing that you have to do to keep your plant’s growth under control is to use the proper pruning methods.

Pinching works better for junipers, as removing an entire stem from the plant can kill its surroundings. This can be quite annoying, which is why you should avoid running into these issues.

Cedar Tree

Cedars, sometimes called Cedrus, are another type of tree that fall under the coniferous family. These are native to the Mediterranean region and the western Himalayas, and the trees usually grow at altitudes ranging from 1500 to 3200 m

These plants also grow best when placed in a well-drained area as they are resistant to drought. Even if people forget to water the trees, these can still grow to be quite healthy.

cedar tree

However, it is still recommended that you keep the soil around your cedar trees moist. This can be easily done by watering the soil once a day and ensuring it contains enough minerals.

There are several types of trees, but the main reason why people confuse these with junipers is that some types of plants named cedars are junipers.

This can be quite confusing at first, but understanding the defining qualities of the two trees can help people distinguish between them.

Although it is unclear why both are referred to as the same tree, it is most likely due to their fragrant wood and similar appearance.

However, the first thing you must remember is that the word cedar is normally used to define two types of trees, which include true and false cedars.

True cedars are the trees that are cedars, whereas false cedars are variants from other families but are known as cedars due to their similarities.

Juniper trees are unique but have several species referred to as cedars because of their long and pointy shape.

Even the maintenance steps for the two plants are quite similar.

The main difference between the two plants is that you can grow false cedars in almost every region, while true cedars prefer northern areas and are all members of the famous pine family.

Due to their attractive height, you may not see them planted in home gardens but along street lanes, bigger gardens, and parks.

Another important distinguishing feature between the true and false cedars is their origin. 

Where the true cedars are members of Cedrus and are usually found in the Himalayas and the Mediterranean region, the false cedars belong to the genus Calocedrus and Thuja; all of these together belong to the Cyprus family.

Depending on where you live, one of the two species can be selected for your garden.

Furthermore, unlike junipers, which mostly grow as bushes and shrubs, cedars are tall, high trees with fan-like foliage.

The leaves of cedar trees are small-scale]with a flat overall structure and grow together in groups with the woods. 

The cedar trees also produce oval or barrel-shaped cones that are 1-2 cm long. Male and female cones are both produced.

However, the male cones do not stay longer on the tree like the female cones are significantly larger than the male cones and stay on the branches until the seed of the cones gets matures.

The cedar trees also produce flowers that are pinkish-white in color.

Cedarwood, famous for its natural beauty and fragrance, is preferred for making furniture and ornamental landscapes like fencing, decking, siding, and trimming. Its unique smell makes it liked by humans and keeps the moths and insects away.


Family and Genes 

While the plants look somewhat similar, they belong to different families and father different genera. The Juniper plants, famous for their berries used in gin production, belong to the Cyprus family and Juniperus genus.

In contrast, the Cedar trees belong to the pine plant family. However, the family belongs to order Pinales, formally referred to as Conifers.

The cedar trees belong to the Cedrus genus, which is entirely different from the genus of Juniper plants.


It can often be very difficult to tell both trees apart, especially at first look, considering their wide varieties and shapes.

However, a key distinguishing feature of both the trees is their size; if you pay a little attention, you may tell which one is cedar and which is Juniper.

Cedars that belong to the pine family referred to as evergreen conifers, are taller compared to wide varieties of junipers.

On the other side, Junipers are smaller in height than the taller cedar and are often classified as bushes or shrubs instead of trees. 


Another thing you can help differentiate  both the trees is their leave and the cones’ size and structure. The leaves of juniper trees or bushes are thin and needle-like. However, those of Cedars are flatter and have a fan-like appearance.

Furthermore, the female cones of juniper trees, which resemble berries, are smaller in size, stay longer on trees, and are bluish, whereas the cones of cedars are smaller, they are somewhat yellow.


Both trees are used worldwide for ornamental purposes due to their high-quality wood. The greater flexibility of juniper tree wood makes them better for tool production, while cedar wood is popular for making furniture pieces and landscape fences. The berries produced by juniper trees are also popular for seasoning various food and serve as a key ingredient in gin production. 


Although referred to as one due to their similarities, both trees belong to different plant families. Considering their area of growth preference, structure, and uses, you can decide which option to plant.

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