osteosperma (Torr.) Little
Life Span: Perennial
juniper is usually a bushy tree in appearance, with a rounded crown
and a trunk that is many-forked or occasionally with a central dominant
trunk. It has an extensive root system the enables it to vigorously
compete for moisture. Mature trees are usually less than 30 feet
high. Utah juniper can live to be 650 years old. Reproduction is
small, up to 1/3 inch diameter, berry-like, globe-shaped female
cone with poorly defined cone scales. These berries mature in 2
years and when mature are red or reddish-brown and covered with
a whitish bloom. Both male and female flowers are found on most
trees, resulting in the production of seeds on all trees. The male
cones appear as tiny brownish overlapped filaments near the twig
Seeds are usually borne one to a cone, rarely two. Each seed is
somewhat long, pointed on one end and marked on the blunt end with
a large dark area that covers nearly half of the seed.
in opposite pairs, small (about 1/8 inch long), giving the foliage
a more coarse appearance than Rocky Mountain juniper. Awl-shaped
leaves are common on terminal twigs and juvenile plants. Leaf surfaces
lack a tiny glandular dot and margins that are finely toothed.
remain covered with overlapping leaves for several years. The bark
is gray to reddish, fibrous, and shred into long strips along the
stem. It may be an inch or more in thickness on old trunks. The
wood is soft, light in weight, with light yellow-brown heartwood
and a broad outer band of whitish sapwood. This wood is very durable,
especially the heartwood.
juniper is common on dry plains, plateaus, and the lower elevation
of the mountains of the state. Its elevation ranges between 4,000
and 7,500 feet. It is common in elevations below pinyon pine, and
above the sagebrush-grass zone.
Across the West, junipers have expanded their historical range in
the years since European settlement, especially into sagebrush-grass
communities below areas of traditional pinyon-juniper. Overgrazing,
fire suppression, and climatic change have been identified as potential
causes of juniper invasion. In the absence of fire or other disturbances,
trees eventually dominate the site and crowd out herbaceous and
juniper commonly grows on alluvial fans and dry, rocky hillsides,
with shallow, alkaline soils. Utah juniper is considered a "sodium-sensitive"
species. Utah juniper is found on a range of soil textures, but
most often on gravelly loams and gravelly clay loams with a pH range
of 7.4 to 8.0.
sagebrush, Indian ricegrass,
rubber rabbitbrush, curlleaf
mountain mahogany, antelope bitterbrush,
needle and thread,
juniper is the most predominant single species of trees in Utah
as far as total cover is concerned; nearly one-fifth of the land
area of the state is covered by Utah juniper. Juniper "berries,"
or berry-cones, are eaten by jackrabbits, foxes, and coyotes. Many
bird species depend on juniper berry-cones for fall and winter food.
The foliage is grazed by mule deer when other foliage is scarce
and during periods of deep snow.
Utah juniper has long been used for construction, fence posts, firewood,
pencils, Christmas trees, and other purposes. Utah juniper wood
is highly decay resistant.
The cones were eaten by Indians.