Rocky Mountain Juniper – Juniperus scopulorum

Rocky Mountain Juniper – Juniperus scopulorum
Family Cupressaceae

Rocky Mountain juniper is a long-lived
species that can reach 3,000 + years.

Custom Search

Rocky Mountain Juniper foliage
Rocky Mountain juniper is a perennial, evergreen gymnosperm native to North America. The species grows as a shrub or tree to 30 feet (10 m) or more and has thin, fibrous bark that usually shreds with age. In the open, trees are stubby and broadly pyramidal with branches to ground level. In shaded areas, the trunk is less tapered and foliage arranges in "weeping sprays". Leaves are scalelike and 0.03-0.11 inch (1-3 mm) long or needlelike and 0.11-0.47 inch (3-12 mm) long.

RM juniper prefers calcareous and somewhat alkaline soils and grows best on moist, deep soils. It survives extremes of temperature well. Rocky Mountain juniper is considered hardy except for "burning" of foliage on trees exposed to northwest winds during winter in the northern Great Plains. It can tolerate shade when young, but becomes intolerant later in life. It is more drought tolerant than eastern redcedar and less so than other tree junipers in the west. In fact, during the 1930s drought, Rocky Mountain juniper woodland maintained and expanded range in the western Dakotas.

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain juniper is 27 years old [2]
RM juniper occurs throughout the drier mountains and foothills of British Columbia and Alberta; south through the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains to Arizona, New Mexico, and western Texas; and north across eastern Colorado, western Nebraska and North Dakota, Montana, and into Saskatchewan. It is also found on Vancouver and other Puget Sound islands [1].
juniper bark
Rocky Mountain juniper's close-grained, durable, aromatic wood is used for furniture, interior paneling, fence posts, fuel, and novelties such as chests. It is especially well-suited for fencing because the wood lasts a long time in contact with the ground. The wood is not used regularly for other products due to its small size and knotty, twisted trunks. Northern Plains tribes preferred Rocky Mountain juniper branches for making bow staves.

Native Americans have used Rocky Mountain juniper seeds, "berries", and foliage for incense, teas, or salves to treat a variety of ailments including respiratory problems, backaches, vomiting and diarrhea, dandruff, high fever, arthritis and muscular aches, kidney and urinary ailments, and heart and circulatory problems. It has also been used to facilitate childbirth. Juniper berries are also used in gin making [1].

1. Scher, Janette S. 2002. Juniperus scopulorum. In: Fire Effects Information, USDA Forest Service
2. Rocky Mountain juniper, Morton Arboretum acc. 935-80-1, photos © Bruce Marlin

Tree Encyclopedia / North American Insects & Spiders is dedicated to providing scientific and educational resources for our users through use of large images and macro photographs of flora and fauna.

Family Cupressaceae – Redwood, Cypress, Arborvitae, Juniper
There are thirty (many monotypic) genera and 142 species in the family Cupressaceae, now widely regarded as including the Taxodiaceae, previously treated as a family. The Cupressaceae are found in the fossil record as far back as the Jurassic Period, about 210 million years ago. Cupressaceae Index | Tree Encyclopedia | Trees Index