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What is this plant? It's growing sparsely (I've flagged around 30-40 of them over ~5 acres) throughout my back yard in northern Ohio.

It is very sharp and has a pretty deep/vertical root system. It's mostly brown right now, but I did find a few that are starting to turn green now (early April).

Size is anywhere from around 2 inch diameter up to this one, which is more like 6-7 inch diameter and seems to be growing fairly horizontally, though I would have been mowing them down all of last year, since I didn't notice them until this year.

When I cut off a piece, it did smell like what I imagine as "pine", but I don't have a super discerning nose.

Tried looking it up via Google, but no luck so far.

Is it a weed? A bush? A tree?

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It looks like Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) that has been turned into a bonsai via repeated mowing.

If you break a piece off and smell it you should be able to tell. If it is cedar you will clearly smell pine - if it isn't strongly fragrant it is probably not cedar.

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    Great, thanks! We've flagged them throughout the yard - will refrain from mowing and see if they come up to verify your guess! They DO smell "piney". Though I don't know if I know exactly what cedar smells like. – Dave Apr 3 at 14:31
  • cool. in my area the deer eat them. Might need to cage them. – That Idiot Apr 3 at 14:56
  • Ah, good to know. We don't have a ton of deer in my immediate area, but certainly plenty in NW Ohio. – Dave Apr 3 at 15:04
  • Do you know if they're worth keeping around / nice trees / non-invasive ...etc? For instance, around here, we pull all mulberry trees as we see them, or they'll spread like crazy. – Dave Apr 3 at 15:05
  • In the past they have been considered weedy as they are often some of the first trees to establish in old fields and along fences due to birds dropping their seeds everywhere. These days, though, we (landscape company) plant a ton of these and relocate many others. They make wonderful windbreaks when young and are just incredible when older. IMHO definitely worth saving if you have the space. Some people pay thousands of dollars for 20' examples around here. – That Idiot Apr 3 at 15:26

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