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Utah Juniper Juniperus osteosperma (Sabina osteosperma)


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Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Shrub or short tree reaching 3-6 m. (rarely to 9 m.) tall. Shoots thick relative to most junipers, 1.5-2 mm. diameter. Bark gray, stringy, shredding. Leaves arranged in opposite decussate pairs or whorls of three. Adult leaves scale-like, 1-2 mm. long (to 5 mm. on lead shoots) 1-1.5 mm. broad. Juvenile leaves needle-like, 5-10 mm. long. Cones berry like, 8-13 mm. in diameter, bluish-brown with waxy bloom, and contain a single seed (rarely two); mature in 18 months. Male cones 2-4 mm. long, and shed their pollen in early spring. Berries blue-red, dry and hard. Usually monoecious; both sexes on the same plant; 10% of plants dioecious, producing cones of only one sex.

Dimensions Height: 4.6-12 m. (15-40 ft.)
Diameter: 0.3-0.9 m. (1-3 ft.).

Habitat Mountains, Scrub, shrub & brushlands.

Range Rocky Mountains, California, Southwest.

Discussion Most common juniper species in Arizona, widely distributed throughout the arid West. Occurs in southern Idaho, southern Montana, and western Wyoming,
common in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and southeastern California. Occasionally accompanied only by Pinus monophylla.

Seeds dispersed by Jackrabbits, mostly the Black-tailed Jackrabbit, rodents and coyotes. Many bird species depend on juniper berry-cones for fall and winter food. Foliage is grazed by mule deer when other foliage is scarce and during periods of deep snow.