Rocky Mountain Juniper/Colorado Redcedar (Juniperus scopulorum)
Rocky Mountain juniper is closely related and quite similar to Eastern Red Cedar, and was once believed to be the same species. In nature the Rocky Mountain Juniper is usually quite bushy and freely branched, growing no higher than about 15 feet with the trunk going 12 inches in diameter. They can survive because their blue green or green leaves, which they retain all year, are reduced to tiny, waxy scales covering their twigs and small branches. In the landscape, this is a slow growing evergreen tree with a narrow, pyramidal habit that grows to a mature height of 30 or more feet. It can be grown with one trunk or with multiple trunks. The fruits, fleshy cones with scale-like leaves, have one or several seeds inside, and are coated with water-retaining wax. The Juniper berries are marble-sized, reddish brown or bluish with a powdery coating and mealy and fibrous. Bark consists of many layers of fibrous elongated shreds. The birds and small mammals eat the berry-like cones. The seeds, being indigestible, are eliminated by the animals as waste. The process of passing through the animals digestive system softens the seed coats, breaking dormancy and allowing for germination of the seeds. This tree is popular throughout the Midwest, upper plains states and out to Colorado.
Choices of Rocky Mountain Juniper
Cultivars vary in size (with dwarfs), weeping form, and color of foliage. Blue Creeper has strong blue foliage and grows to 2 feet while spreading spreads to 8 feet. Blue Star has dense branches with steel blue foliage in 2 by 4 foot mounds. Skyrocket forms a narrow 15 to 20 foot tall column of blue-green foliage. Tolleson's weeping forms have either silvery blue-gray or green string-like foliage and grow to 20 foot tall trees. Gray Gleam has silvery gray foliage and has a pyramidal habit; it is slow growing to only 15 feet in thirty years.