Ask Burton: Q: Three of the 9 eastern red cedars we planted about a month ago have something on the tips of the branches. All 3 of them are in the same area. The rest of the tree is green and looks fine. This does not appear to be a disease to me, as all of these tan colored tips are pretty much uniform on the outer branches of the tree. The other 6 cedars do not have this (branches are 100% green – including tips of branches). What is happening to these 3 plants?

A: Congratulations! It’s a boy!
Eastern red cedars have male and female plants. You have three male plants and six female plants. Those are what will be the pollen bearing structures of your male plants. Flowering plants are interesting in how species vary. Some species have what are called “perfect” flowers, with both male and female organs on the flower that both function. Other species have vestigial or non-present organs of one gender or another on any individual plant, making the flower functionally male or female only. Eastern red cedars are an example of such a species.

Burton specializes in diagnosing and solving plant problems. If you have a question for Burton, please email him at and include photos showing the problem.