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Western Juniper Juniperus occidentalis


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Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Long lived, slow growing evergreen with a full crown and heavy limbs at maturity. Bark reddish brown, furrowed and shredded. Leaves arranged in opposite decussate pairs or whorls of three; adult leaves scale-like, 1–2 mm. long (to 5 mm on lead shoots) and 1-1.5 mm. broad. Juvenile leaves (on young seedlings only) needle-like, 5–10 mm. long. Cones berry-like, 5–10 mm. in diameter, blue-brown with a whitish waxy bloom containing one to three seeds. Male cones 2–4 mm. long, and shed pollen in early spring.

Dimensions Height: 4.6-9 m. (15-30 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3 m. (1 ft.) sometimes much larger.

Habitat Mountains.

Range California, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, Northwest.

Discussion Western juniper is slow growing and long lived. Individuals can survive for 1,000 years or longer. The Bennett juniper, which grows near Sonora Pass, California, is believed to be 3,000 to 6,000 years old. Cones are an important food for several birds, including American Robin, Phainopepla and Cedar Waxwing; these digest the fleshy cone scales and disperse the seeds in their droppings.