Characteristics of Spanish Juniper Tree (Juniperus thurifera) in the Wild

Juniperus thurifera
Spanish Juniper (Juniperus thurifera) is a species of conifer tree of the genus Juniperus in the family Cupressaceae. Its distribution area ranges from Corsica, the Alps of southern France, the mountains of northern, southern, and eastern Spain to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria. This tree inhabits the limestone soils of Spain and the rocky environments of the Atlas Mountains at elevations between 300 and 3,300 m asl.

Juniperus thurifera was first published in 1753 by Carl von Linné in Species Plantarum. Its synonyms are Juniperus hispanica, Juniperus bonatiana, Juniperus cinerea, Juniperus gallica, and Juniperus africana.

There are two varieties recorded, they include:

  • Juniperus thurifera var. thurifera – in southern France including Corsica and Spain with a cone size of 8-12 mm and usually containing 2-4 seeds per cone.
  • Juniperus thurifera var africana – in Morocco and Algeria with cones of 7-8 mm and containing 1-2 seeds per cone.

 

Characteristics of Spanish Juniper Leaf

Juniperus thurifera Leaf
Source: inaturalist.org/diego198

The leaves are needle-shaped, arranged transversely, the leaf margins are smooth with all or slightly serrated edges, and 3-6 mm long.

 

Characteristics of Spanish Juniper Fruit

Juniperus thurifera Fruit
Source: inaturalist.org/angel_fernandez_cancio

The cones are like most juniper trees, green when young and brown when ripe. They are about 8-12 in size and contain 2-4 seeds.

 

Characteristics of Spanish Juniper Tree

Juniperus thurifera Tree
Source: inaturalist.org/jaimebraschi

Spanish Juniper grows as an erect shrub or tree that reaches a height of up to 20 meters with a trunk diameter of up to 2 meters. In young trees, the treetops are pyramidal and then develop to be broad, rounded, and often irregular. The bark is dark brown, light brown, to gray.

 

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