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JUNIPERUS scopulorum

Image of Juniperus scopulorum

Gerald L. Klingaman

Family

Cupressaceae

Botanical Name

JUNIPERUS scopulorum

Plant Common Name

Rocky Mountain Juniper

General Description

Tough as the rugged American West, this juniper is the parent of many hybrid varieties that share its resilient nature. Rocky Mountain juniper, or Colorado redcedar, is a slow growing evergreen tree or shrub native to western American regions from Mexico to Canada. The most robust populations exist at higher elevations in the Rocky Mountain States and intermountain West, though specimens also exist at lower elevations and along the mountain foothills. It is most commonly associated with pinyon juniper woodlands and grows in rocky, semi-arid alpine soils associated with limestone and shale.

Habit and size depend on growing environment as well as genetics. Trees are bushy and irregularly pyramidal. Many cultivated forms have more regular habits better suited to the landscape. The fragrant, evergreen foliage of Rocky Mountain juniper consists of fine, blue-green or olive-green scales. This plant is monoecious, meaning separate male and female flowers are borne on the same plant. The pollen-bearing male flowers are inconspicuous and pollinate the female flowers, which develop into clusters of waxy, resinous, blueish berries. The berries mature in the fall or winter of the second year after pollination (a full eighteen months later!).

Full sun and sharply drained soil with average fertility is suitable for this tough juniper. Rocky, poor soils will even do as long as they’re on the neutral to alkaline side. Established plants can withstand extended periods of drought. There are lots of cultivars to choose from and many named varieties are male clones. This is a popular evergreen for naturalizing in arid natural areas. A well placed stand can serve as a valuable high desert wind break and privacy screen, and few trees work as well in western ranch settings.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Needled or Scaled Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    10'-50' / 3.0m - 15.2m

  • Width

    5'-20' / 1.5m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Spring

  • Native To

    Western United States, Canada, Mexico

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought, Salt

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Xeric/Desert, Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Fruit Color

    Blue, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Olive, Gray Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Olive, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Olive, Gray Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Green, Olive, Gray Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Fine

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Hedges, Screening / Wind Break, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    No