Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Rocky Mountain Juniper Coniferous

Juniperus scopulorum
Origin:

All of the native junipers are valuable ornamental species, and many horticultural varieties have been developed. Rocky Mountain juniper is widely used in shelterbelts and wildlife plantings.

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Where To Grow

Rocky Mountain juniper grows in prairie hillsides, fields, pastures, and occasionally in woodlands, in rocky, sandy, or clay soils.  Juniper can be easily transplanted in the early spring before it starts its new growth. It is especially well adapted to dry areas. The junipers are generally propagated by cuttings.
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Suitable to plant west of the 100th meridian.
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Size at Maturity

Tree Height Tree Spread
20-35' 15-20'
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Tree Characteristics

A medium-sized tree that is scraggly with a rounded to pyramidal crown. The bark is dark reddish-brown to grayish in color, thin, fibrous, and usually shreds with age. Leaves are green or blue-green, usually barely overlapping and closely appressed, scale-like and long. Male and female cones are on separate trees. The female cones are solitary at the tips of branchlets and ripen from September through October. 

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Wildlife Benefits

Junipers are important to wildlife throughout the country. Their twigs and foliage are eaten extensively by hoofed browsers, but the chief attraction to wildlife is the bluish-black berry-like fruit. The cedar waxwing is one of the principal users of juniper berries, but numerous other birds and mammals, both large and small, make these fruits and important part of their diet. In addition to their wildlife food value, junipers provide important protective and nesting cover.

Chipping sparrows, robins, song sparrows, and mockingbirds use these trees as one of their favorite nesting sites. Juncos, myrtle warblers, sparrows of various kinds, and other birds use the dense foliage as roosting cover. In winter their dense protective shelter is especially valuable.

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Additional Considerations

All of the native junipers are valuable ornamental species, and many horticultural varieties have been developed. Rocky Mountain juniper is widely used in shelterbelts and wildlife plantings. The close-grained, aromatic, and durable wood of junipers is used for furniture, interior paneling, novelties, and fence posts. The fruits and young branches contain aromatic oil that is used in medicines. Other species to try: Chinese juniper. 

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Interesting Facts

  • The Blackfeet Tribe remedy for arthritis and rheumatism was to boil juniper leaves in water, add one-half teaspoon of turpentine, and when cooled, rub the mixture on affected parts
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