Northwest Conifers


Rocky Mountain Juniper – Juniperus scopulorum Speaker

Rocky Mountain Juniper


USGS Distribution Map

This juniper, rare in the Pacific Northwest, is often shrub-like is size but can grow to 40 feet (12 meters).

Leaves: The scale-like leaves are arranged in opposite pairs. They are green or gray-green, with no resin dots like those on Western Juniper.

Cones: The cones form small,soft, juicy berries that are blue and coated with a white film.

Bark: The bark is redish-brown. On larger trees, it breaks into flat ridges with long flaky scales.

Where it grows: Rocky Mountain juniper is not common in the Northwest. It grows in a few mountainous dry areas in central Washington and the northeast coners of Oregon and Washington. It also grows throughout much of the Rocky Mountains.

Curiously, some of these junipers grow in the Puget Sound area. Based on DNA analysis, they have recently been classified as a separate speces: seaside juniper (Juniperus maratima.) Although these junipers live in a very different habitat from the Rocky Mountain junipers east of the Cascades, they look very similar. The best way to distinguish them is by location.

Uses: There are several popular cultivars of Rocky Mountain Juniper. It is also a popular bonsai plant.

Names: The name scopulorum refers to "tree growing in rocky ground."




© 2012 Ken Denniston - Updated June 11, 2022