California Juniper ( Juniperus californica )

The California Juniper ( Juniperus californica ) is a common tree found in California, western Arizona and southern Nevada at medium elevations between 2,460 – 5,250 ft.  Commonly growing 10 and 26 feet in height, the grayish shredded bark Juniper may reach a maximum height or about 33 feet, although this height is rare.  Growing up in California and frequently camping in the Mojave and High Sierra, the California Juniper has frequents my memory and photographs.

A Juniper bush decorates the Mid Hills Campground in the Mojave National Preserve.

 

 

A close up of Juniper Berries.

 

Natural distribution map for Juniperus californica (California juniper) - Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

Natural distribution map for Juniperus californica (California juniper) – Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service

The foliage of this shrub are small, tight and scale like with a green leaves.  Small cones will form which typically contain a single seed, which will in 8 to 9 months.  The fruit or Juniper Berries are blue in color and quite spectacular in there abundance.  The Juniper bush is a common habitat and frequently shelters ground and avian life.

The California Juniper was used by Native American tribes as an herbal medicine and food source.  The Juniper berries were eaten and ground into a meal which was used for baking.  Modern “civilized” societies utilize this plant for ornamental purposes as a shrub for drought tolerant gardens.

 

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