Juniperus occidentalis
Common name: 
Western Juniper
ju-NIP-er-us ok-si-den-TA-lis
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Conifer, evergreen tree (or a shrub), height 15-30 ft (4.6-9 m), short trunk, stout spreading branches, ragged and gnarled with age.  Scaly, light brown bark.  Leaves usually scale-like in whorls of 3 (occasionally opposite), arranged in 6 rows, 3 mm long, tightly appressed, gray-green, a distinct gland (dot), juvenile leaves are awl-shaped with the tips standing away from the twig.  Fruit berrylike, blue-black, with a bloom, soft, juicy, resinous, maturing in the second year, 2-3 seeds.
  • Note: The scale-like leaves of Western Juniper are usually in whols of 3 and their associated buds have the same arrangement, hence branchlets derived from these buds are arranged similarly, thereby resulting in 3 vertical rows along a stem.  This is in contrast to Baker Cypress, Cupressus bakeri, which has scale-like leaves that are in opposite, alternating pairs (decussate) and branchlets are vertically arranged in rows of 4 rather than 3 (see comparison).
  • Sun.  Very drought resistant, best in arid environments.   Difficult to transplant except when young.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4       Native from British Columbia to southern California, west to southwest Idaho and Nevada and eastward to western Montana.  In Oregon and Washington found in elevations between 500 to 5,000 ft (150-1,500 m) and in California between 2,500-10,500 ft (760-3,200 m).
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: southeast Peavy Hall.
Click image to enlarge
  • young stand, eastern Oregon

    young stand, eastern Oregon

  • in habitat

    in habitat

  • in habitat

    in habitat

  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • branch, branchlets

    branch, branchlets

  • branchlets, spring

    branchlets, spring

  • juvenile branchlets

    juvenile branchlets

  • adult branchlets

    adult branchlets

  • adult branchlets, leaves

    adult branchlets, leaves

  • branchlet arrangement

    branchlet arrangement

  • branches, branchlets and fruit, fall

    branches, branchlets and fruit, fall

  • branchlets, leaves and fruit, fall

    branchlets, leaves and fruit, fall

  • young stem and trunk, bark

    young stem and trunk, bark