Western Juniper

Scientific Name:

Juniperus occidentalis

Type:

Tree

Habitat:

Forests, both by itself and mixed with other conifers, as well as savannahs, woodlands, and sagebrush communities

Range:

Western United States from Idaho and Nevada to the Pacific

Status:

Least Concern (IUCN Red List)

This species is

NATIVE

to the Truckee Meadows.

Identification:

Western junipers are evergreen trees that typically grow between 15 and 30 feet in height. Their bark tends to be thin in the trees' youths before thickening with age. Their cones resemble berries which are blue-gray in color.

Fast Facts:

  • The largest western juniper was found in Oregon. It was 72 feet tall, 19 feet wide, and had a crown sprawling a total of 42 feet. The oldest, also found in Oregon, is over 1,600 years old.

  • These trees grow slowly, but the species is increasing! Western junipers are listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List since the species' population continues to increase and expand. This makes their rate of extinction extremely low.

  • Western junipers pollinate with the help of wind. However, it is thanks to its friendship with sagebrush, that it is an expanding species. Soil under a sagebrush has nearly two times the moisture of surrounding soil, and therefore can hold on to more nutrients. Ultimately, this allows for near perfect conditions for the seeds of western junipers to germinate. What a friendly neighbor!

  • In the Paiute language, junipers are called Waape. 

Sources:

Contributor(s):

Bridget Mulkerin (research & content)

Max Whealon (research & content)

Alex Shahbazi (edits & page design)

Last Updated:

April 22, 2021, 10:01:51 PM