Juniperus Osteosperma
(Utah Juniper)
[Torrey/Little]

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Cupressaceae
Family Description: Cypress
Key Characteristics:
A rough, bushy tree up to 6 m tall, often branched at the base and up to 8 dm thick with grayish-brown bark; leaves in twos or occasionally in threes, acute or acuminate, glandless or inconspicuously glandular on the back, yellowish-green; berries (seed cones) maturing the second year, rounded or oblong with 1 or rarely 2 seeds.
leaves
cones
seeds
  • in twos or occasionally in threes
  • acute or acuminate
  • glandless or inconspicuously glandular on the back
  • yellowish-green
  • berries (seed cones) maturing the second year, rounded or oblong with 1 or rarely 2 seeds
  • bluish- glaucous, become copper-brownish in age or when rubbed
  • 7-10 mm in diameter.
  • 1 to 2 seeds per cone (berries)

General Description:
Its habit is a round-crowned shrub usually with many trunks which originate from the base and bear thin, grayish-brown, exfoliating bark. It is commonly six to twelve meters tall. Its branches are spreading to ascending. The branchlets are three- to four-sided and about as thick as the triangular-shaped, scale-like leaves are long. The light yellow-green scale-like, acute or acuminate, gland less or inconspicuously glandular adult, tiny leaves are usually arranged in twos, but sometimes in threes. They are appressed, one to two millimeters long and tend not to overlap each other. Saplings have three to four times longer, acuminate, stiff, sharp-pointed awl-like leaves. The ovulate cones contain one or two seeds and mature in one or two years in two different sizes. The bluish, glaucous cones (often called berries) appear copper-colored if the wax covering is rubbed off.

Similar Species:
Rocky Mountain Juniper

Distribution:
Great Basin and Rocky Mountain area from Wyoming, across S. Idaho to Nevada, South to N. M. and California.

Habitat:
Dry plains and foothills.

Other:
A valuable shrub or tree for fence posts that resists decay for decades. They are not used for lumber because they crack upon drying and tend to be very knotty. Seed cones can provide a survival snack and are readily eaten by many birds and rodents.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002