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The Juniper Tree

The Common Juniper Trees of North America


The common Juniper, is a species in the genus Juniperus, in the family Cupressaceae. It has one of the largest ranges of woody plants in the World. Juniper grows as a small tree or shrub throughout the cool temperate United States. Juniperus communis is commercially grown as an evergreen ornamental shrub but is not a valuable tree for wood products. Red cedar is considered Genus Juniperous but I include it elsewhere and as a separate tree.

The Most Common Junipers of North America

There are thirteen juniper species native to North America and eleven are mostly tree-like. They have a fleshy, berry-looking cone where the seeds develop and the leaves are more like scales than coniferous needles. It is extremely hard to identify juniper species so I will stick with what I consider the three most common.

The common juniper is the most common juniper in North America, hence the name. Still there are several of which I want to make note: the Rocky Mountain juniper and Utah juniper

Where Juniper Trees Live in North America

Most North American junipers are growing in the western states (if you exclude red cedar) and are a very common site in the wild landscape. Junipers grow from arid deserts and grasslands up to the western pine and oak forest zone. In many cases, juniper can be considered a low-branching shrub in rounded form but some become small trees.

Identify a Juniper by Leaf Shape

Does your tree have berrylike, bluish, glaucous, bloomy cones on tips of shoots? Some junipers carry spiny needle-like leaves. The adult tree shape is often narrowly columnar. Remember that Eastern red cedar is actually a juniper. If so you probably have a juniper!

Juniper Tree Images from ForestryImages.org


Juniper Tree Images Collection from ForestryImages.org. This search includes over 113,000 images of juniper trees and pests that attack them.

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