Characteristics of Azores Juniper Tree (Juniperus brevifolia) in the Wild

Juniperus brevifolia
Azores juniper or Short-leaf juniper (Juniperus brevifolia) is a species of conifer tree endemic to the Azores (in Corvo, Faial, Flores, Pic, Santa Maria, São Jorge, São Miguel, and Terceira), where the tree occupies an area of ​​240-800 elevations m asl (rarely up to 1,500 m asl).

This tree is closely related to the Prickly juniper (Juniperus oxycedrus) from the Mediterranean region and the Canary Islands juniper (Juniperus cedrus) from Macaronesia.

DNA sequencing also showed the Portuguese juniper species (Juniperus navicularis) as related species. Therefore, it is assumed that Juniperus navicularis and Juniperus brevifolia came from a common ancestor and that they came to the Azores by dispersal of seeds with the help of birds.

Juniperus brevifolia is threatened by habitat loss. The IUCN Redlist has categorized Juniperus brevifolia as Vulnerable (VU) since 2010.

 

Characteristics of Juniper Azores Leaf

Juniperus brevifolia Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/lougarou

The leaves are grayish-green, needle-like, 4-10 mm long, and 1-3 mm wide, with double white stomata (separated by a green midrib) on the inner surface.

 

Characteristics of Juniper Azores Fruit

Juniperus brevifolia Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/bornfeta

Azores juniper dioecious, with male and female species on separate trees. The male cones are yellow, 2-3 mm long, and fall off soon after releasing pollen in early spring. The female cones are spherical, 6-9 mm in diameter, and have three or six scales fused in one or two circles of three, the larger three scales each with one seed.

Ripe cones take up to 18 months and have an orange-red color with a variable pink wax coating.

 

Characteristics of Juniper Azores Tree

Juniperus brevifolia Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/lougarou

Azores juniper grows to form a shrub or small tree up to a height of 6 meters and a trunk diameter of about 50 cm. The bark is brown-purple and flaky. The branches stand tall.

Currently, the Azores juniper species is considered vulnerable in its native area due to past logging and competition from introduced invasive tree species.

 

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