Juniperus scopulorum - Rocky Mountain Juniper

Family: Cupressaceae - Cypress Family

General: Usually a small, erect evergreen tree to 10 m tall, with conical form, but also a sprawling shrub less than 1 m; bark reddish-brown, scaly or fibrous and stringy. [IFBC-E-flora]
Notes: See J. horizontalis for discussion of hybridization. [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
Dry open, often calcareous, rocky soils in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent in S BC, rare northward to Telegraph Creek; E to SW AB and S to AZ, NM, CO and W NE. [IFBC-E-flora]

Ecological Indicator Information
A very shade-intolerant, montane, Western North American evergreen coniferous shrub distributed more in the Cordilleran than the Pacific region. Occurs predominantly in continental cool temperate and cool semiarid climates on excessively dry to very dry and nitrogen-medium (often alkaline) soils; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality and temperature. In the coastal region, very sporadic in open­canopy shrub communities on very shallow, water-shedding sites of calcium-rich rock outcrops; common in the coast­interior ecotone. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites. [IPBC][E-flora]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

The boughs are used as an incense to fumigate houses and to drive off smells. The wood can be burnt or just hung in the room, or it can be boiled up in water and the water used to wash the walls, floor etc[99]. The bark is employed as a tinder and is also made into a slow match[216]. The dried seeds have been used as beads or as the 'rattle' in rattles[99, 216]. The fruits and the leaves are used as an insect repellent[169]. A strong infusion of the cones is used to kill ticks[99]. [PFAF]

Medicinal Uses

Rocky Mountain juniper was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it in particular to treat problems connected with the chest and kidneys[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism.[PFAF]

Cultivation & Propagation

Succeeds in most soils, including chalk[200], so long as they are well drained, preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil[1, 11]. A drought tolerant species once established, succeeding in hot dry positions[200]. Plants are fairly wind-resistant[200]. A long-lived but slow-growing tree in its native range[227], it is very slow growing in Britain where it only makes a shrub[185]. Closely allied to J. virginiana[1, 81] and hybridising with it where the ranges meet[226]. It differs mainly in the fruit, which takes two years to mature in this species instead of one[226]. Plants are resistant to honey fungus[88]. This tree is apparently resistant to the rust fungus that attacks the closely related J. virginiana[149]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.[PFAF]
Plants can be grown as a ground cover, the cultivar 'Repens' is especially suitable[208]. A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting[200]. In N. America it is used to some extent in re-afforestation and shelterbelt plantings on the prairies[227].[PFAF]

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration[78, 81]. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process[11]. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years[1]. Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn[1, 78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].[PFAF]


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