Characteristics of Tibetan Juniper Tree (Juniperus tibetica) in the Wild

Juniperus tibetica
Tibetan juniper is a species of juniper tree native to western China in southern Gansu, southeast Qinghai, Sichuan, and Tibet, where it grows at altitudes of 2,700-4,600 m asl. This species is probably the tree with the highest growing habitat in the world.

The Tibetan juniper tree is the only woody tree that grows on the Tibetan plateau, and the tree has a very slow growth due to the harsh climatic conditions there.

Tibetan juniper wood is very important to local people for building construction, incense, and firewood. These uses have resulted in a significant decline in the species in the wild, from being previously listed as not threatened in 1998, but is categorized as Threatened in 2005.

 

Characteristics of Tibetan Juniper Leaf & Fruit

The leaves are needle-shaped and have two types, the young leaves are 5 mm long which is often seen on seedlings/saplings. While the old leaves are 1.5-3 mm long and grow in a circle of three.

Juniperus tibetica Leaf & Fruit
Source : flickr.com/The Tree Library

The fruit is ovate like a berry, 9-16 mm long and 7-13 mm wide, blackish-blue or black, and each fruit contains one seed. The fruit ripens in about 18 months or a year and a half.

The male fruit is 1.5-2 mm long and releases pollen in spring. It is usually monoecious (male and female fruit on the same plant), but sometimes dioecious (male and female fruit on separate plants).

 

Characteristics of Tibetan Juniper Tree

Juniperus tibetica Tree
Source : flickr.com/The Tree Library

Tibetan juniper grows as a medium evergreen shrub or tree and grows to a height of 5-15 meters (rarely 30 meters), with trunks up to 2 meters in diameter.

The trees thrive at an altitude of 2,700 to 4,600 meters, especially in mountain slope forests and in mountainous valleys that are exposed to full sun all day.

 

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