The Juniper Tree

The common Juniper is a species in the genus Juniperus, in the family Cupressaceae. It has one of the largest ranges of woody plants in the World. Juniper grows as a small tree or shrub throughout the cool temperate United States. Juniperus communis is commercially grown as an evergreen ornamental shrub but is not a valuable tree for wood products. Red cedar is considered Genus Juniperous but it is included elsewhere and as a separate tree.

common juniper tree
Common juniper. (Rasbak/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

There are thirteen juniper species native to North America and eleven are mostly tree-like. They have a fleshy, berry-looking cone where the seeds develop and the leaves are more like scales than coniferous needles. It is extremely hard to identify juniper species so here are the three most common.

The common juniper is the most common juniper in North America, hence the name.There are also the Rocky Mountain juniper and Utah juniper. More »

Where Juniper Trees Live in North America

Utah Juniper tree
A Utah Juniper Juniperus osteosperma, Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. (Fcb981/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Most North American junipers are growing in the western states (if you exclude red cedar) and are a very common small tree in the wild landscape. Junipers grow from arid deserts and grasslands up to the western pine and oak forest zone. In many cases, juniper can be considered a low-branching shrub in rounded form but some become small trees.

Juniperus chinensis leaves and shoots
Detail of Juniperus chinensis shoots, with juvenile (needle-like) leaves (left), and adult scale leaves and immature male cones (right). (MPF/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Does your tree have berrylike, bluish, glaucous, bloomy cones on tips of shoots? Some junipers carry spiny needle-like leaves. The adult tree shape is often narrowly columnar. Remember that Eastern red cedar is actually a juniper. If so you probably have a juniper! More »

common juniper
(Zelimir Borzan/University of Zagreb/Bugwood.org)

Look at the Juniper Tree Images Collection from ForestryImages.org. This search includes over 113,000 images of juniper trees and pests that attack them. More »