Species of Juniper

The many types of Juniper trees and shrubs are extremely versatile and adaptable. Categorized as coniferous evergreens, they are favorites because they have numerous uses in the landscape and can handle urban conditions. They vary in shape from columnar or pyramidal trees, to large spreading shrubs, to low growing shrubs, and finally to creeping ground covers. I include all the most common species in this discussion, but the Junipers that can be trees include Eastern Red Cedar, Chinese Juniper, and Rocky Mountain Juniper. The various species show multicolored foliage that ranges from yellow and green to blue and silvery blue. Members of this group are all long-lived and remarkably durable in harsh conditions.

One tree version of Juniper, called Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), is the most hardy and most popular of the Juniper trees. It is grown widely through out the Northeast and Midwest and is at home in over three-fourths of the United States. Because its wood has aromatic oils that repel moths, Red Cedar is used to construct storage closets and chests for wool garments.

Chinese Juniper (Juniperus chinensis) is typically diverse, forms of it ranging from low growing groundcovers to full-sized trees. Like all of its Juniper relatives it tolerates hot, dry weather very well. It also adapts well to various soil and climate conditions and is very easy to grow.

Along with the Pinyon Pine, the Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum) is the most predominant species of tree in the Southwest, covering millions of acres. Also known as the Colorado Red Cedar, this Juniper is found at 1500 to 8000 feet, in dry, rocky places, the lower tree-line on the mesas, foothills and plains, and in the most arid environments of all conifers.

Japanese Garden Juniper (Juniperus chinensis procumbens) is a striking low-growing shrub that shares the virtues of its Juniper relatives. While this Japanese import does not grow as vigorously as creeping Juniper, it, too, tolerates hot, dry weather and adapts well to various soil and climate conditions.

Savin Junipers (Juniperus sabina) come to us from Europe. Typically varied in their forms, these shrubs may be either low growing or upright. They have the most ornamental value when they are young. Savin Junipers are also desirable because most are resistant to Juniper blight. Like all of their Juniper relatives, they tolerate hot, dry weather very well and are very easy to grow.

Singleseed Juniper (Juniperus squamata) is a generally low-growing type that has ornamental value because of its distinctive bright color. While it is not widely grown in the United States, one type, the `Meyeri' is the most commonly planted of the singleseed Junipers.

Shore Juniper (Juniperus conferta) is a dense, ground-hugging conifer with aromatic gray-green or blue-green needle-like leaves. It is very salt tolerant, and does well in dry, sandy soils, and is thus a good choice for seaside gardens and coastal communities. It is even used for dune stabilization. Let shore juniper cascade over a sea wall for a functional and beautiful effect.

Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) is an "ever(blue)green" ground cover with soft, fine-textured plume-like foliage. It is used throughout the U.S. and probably is the most common evergreen groundcover, available in retail outlets everywhere

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