Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)

Western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis)

The Juniperus occidentalis, also known as Western Juniper, is an evergreen tree that distinguishes itself by a massive trunk, large branches that spread wide, and a brown-red bark. Its foliage is a gray-green color. As the tree grows old, the bark begins to slightly droop and lose some of its color pigment.

Younger trees appear almost like a perfect pyramid and look almost like the perfect Christmas tree. Moreover, the juniper is home to a special kind of mistletoe, called Phoradendron juniperinum Engelm, or the "juniper mistletoe."

It Can Live up to 1000 Years Old

The Western Juniper is a massive tree that can grow almost to 100 feet in height, with a width of around 3 feet. This is a slow-growing tree, but it can even live up to 1000 years or more under the right conditions. The oldest known Western Juniper, for instance, is about 1600 years old.

How Do You Plant It?

The Western Juniper is a species native to the United States and can commonly be found in the West, like in Washington. It can thrive in drier soils, even those that seem unfertile. It does need a lot of exposure to sunlight and cannot grow in the shade.

It has low water requirements. Because of its massive size, it’s really important to choose an optimal spot where to plant it. It’s believed that the Western Juniper can mostly thrive in a natural setting. It's not the most appropriate tree for residential areas unless you prune it carefully to control its growth.

It's Very Sensitive to Fire

The Western Juniper is very sensitive to fire, especially in its first years. It’s believed that wildfires are the main reasons for the tree’s death. However, once the tree is burning, its seeds are released to the ground where it’s able to establish roots and then re-grow.


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