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JUNIPERUS communis var. saxatilis

Image of Juniperus communis var. saxatilis

Jesse Saylor

Family

Cupressaceae

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.

Characteristics

  • 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

    Shrub

  • 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

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Mat-forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    None

  • 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

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

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

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No