Characteristics of Sierra Juniper Tree (Juniperus grandis) in the Wild

Juniperus grandis
Sierra juniper or Western juniper (Juniperus grandis) is a type of conifer tree that is endemic to the western United States. It is sometimes considered a variety or subspecies of Juniperus occidentalis.

The distribution and habitat of the Sierra juniper range from the Sierra Nevada in eastern California and western Nevada, the White and Inyo Mountains, the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mountains, to the mountainous highlands of the Mojave Desert, in Southern California. It grows at an altitude of 100-3100 m asl.

Based on dendrochronological evidence from a 2,675 year-old Scofield Juniper, the Sierra juniper is the fourth longest-living tree species after the Great Basin bristlecone pine, Alerce, and Giant Sequoia.

 

Characteristics of Sierra Juniper Leaf

Juniperus grandis Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/slowplants

The leaves are circular-like scales and tighten. Most plants are monochromatic, but about 5-10% are monochromatic.

 

Characteristics of Sierra Juniper Fruit

Juniperus grandis Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/slowplants

The cones are fleshy and berry-like in diameter about 5-9 mm. The pollination period is May-June. The seeds are wingless.

 

Characteristics of Sierra Juniper Tree

Juniperus grandis Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/phatteus

Sierra juniper grows as a medium-sized tree, growing to a height of 20-25 meters. It has a sturdy trunk with red-brown bark, up to 3.5 meters in diameter.

The wood is quite strong and is often used to make fence posts. Sierra juniper is also a popular bonsai subject.

This tree thrives at elevations of 1,000-3,000 m asl on dry, rocky, and shallow slopes. In the Sierra Nevada, this species often forms mixed stands with Stately spruce (Abies magnifica), White-stemmed pine (Pinus albicaulis), Coastal pine (Pinus contorta), Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi), and Mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana).

 

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