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JUNIPERUS communis var. saxatilis

Image of Juniperus communis var. saxatilis

Jesse Saylor



Botanical Name

JUNIPERUS communis var. saxatilis

Plant Common Name

Common Juniper

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Exceptionally cold hardy with low, spreading growth habits, common juniper is a resilient groundcover for the coldest, driest temperate climates. While the parent species is found all across the Northern Hemisphere, variety saxatilis is from the highest latitudes and elevations. In North America it's only found naturally in northern and western areas, not in the east. It excels in rocky soils on slopes, cliffs and summits. The growth habit of this variety is usually multi-trunked and a low, spreading mat.

The prickly, spine-tipped needle foliage ranges from blue-green or gray-green to deep green. The short needles are upturned or upcurled. They also are typically borne in threes and have white bands on the inner needle surfaces. Rather than flowering, these conifers produce male or female cones. The male cones shed pollen into the wind, later pollinating female cones that ripen to oval or round fruits. The female cones usually are first powdery blue, and over the course of three years on the plant, ripen to black.

Grow the common juniper in any well-drained soil in full sun to bright, dappled shade. This species prospers in dry, chalky and sandy soils, but will suffer in soggy ground. Wild-growing specimens provide shelter for wildlife and may become impressive specimens that are contorted or wind-swept on hillsides, cliffs or among rocks. The brown bark weathers to gray and exfoliates to reveal a smooth bark layer on old plants. Numerous cultivated varieties exist, each having a definite foliage color or texture and expected mature plant habit and size. Dwarf-growing selections are used in landscapes as massed groundcovers, rock garden specimens, or in containers. Pruning typically isn't required, and overpruning destroys the plant's natural billowy and feathery texture.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    6 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    2 - 6

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18"-36" / 45.7cm - 91.4cm

  • Width

    3'-6' / 0.9m - 1.8m

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northwestern United States, Canada, Europe, Northern Europe, Russia/Siberia, Asia, Central Asia, Eastern Asia

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances


  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Fruit Color

    Light Blue, Chocolate, Black

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Blue Green, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Sandy Brown, Gray

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture


  • Usage

    Container, Foundation, Groundcover, Mixed Border, Rock Garden / Wall

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Self-Sowing