Juniperus virginiana 'Reptans' / Wandering Eastern red-cedar

Juniperus virginiana 'Reptans' is a mounding, weeping, rambling selection selection Eastern red-cedar with horizontally growing main branches and strictly weeping laterals. Foliage is an attractive bluish, bronzy green accented by tiny golden pollen cones in late winter/early spring. 'Reptans' is a male clone of this species.

After 10 years of growth, a mature specimen will measure 3 feet (1 m) tall with a potential spread exceeding 10 feet (3 m), an annual growth rate of nearly 12 inches (30 cm). With routine pruning, this conifer's ultimate dimensions are easily controlled and the results can be described as nothing short of artistic. Given is propensity for robust growth, 'Reptans' is an excellent choice for a novice aesthetic pruner.

This conifer is a very old cultivar in the nursery trade, first described in 1896 by Ludwig Beissner in Handbuch der Nadelholzkunde, where he described a specific plant growing in Germany's Jena Botanical Gardens. That specimen died in 1914 and it's unknown whether all known examples today descended from this particular example.

Another reference suggests this plant is Juniperus × ambigens 'Reptans' (Juniperus horizontalis × J. virginiana var. virginiana), which would make it of hybrid origin (ambigens in a botanical translation means wandering, to go around). That certainly describes the plant shown in this photo at Bickelhaupt Arboretum that is attached to this record.

Chub Harper in an attempt to describe the plant shown at Bickelhaupt, says that it could be described as being "mounding, weeping with a tendency to have the lower branches growing prostrate. This plant has medium-green foliage."

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Juniperus virginiana 'Reptans' — a 2003 photo taken in the Heartland Collection of Dwarf and Rare Conifers, Bickelhaupt Arboretum, Clinton, Iowa. This plant was 21 years of age at the time.
Photo by Chub Harper
Juniperus virginiana 'Reptans' — a nicely maintained specimen at the ACS Reference Garden at the Oregon, Silverton.
Photo by David Olszyk

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