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Juniperus scopulorum - Sarg.

Common Name Rocky Mountain Juniper, Weeping Rocky Mountian Juniper, Colorado Red Cedar
Family Cupressaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Scattered singly on dry rocky ridges, foothills and bluffs[82, 85] in montane areas or in dry habitats of the coastal forest region[226]. The best specimens are found on slightly alkaline soils[229].
Range Western N. America - British Columbia to Mexico and California.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Juniperus scopulorum Rocky Mountain Juniper, Weeping Rocky Mountian Juniper, Colorado Red Cedar

Juniperus scopulorum Rocky Mountain Juniper, Weeping Rocky Mountian Juniper, Colorado Red Cedar


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Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Pyramidal, Upright or erect, Weeping.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Juniperus scopulorum is an evergreen Tree growing to 10 m (32ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3. It is in leaf all year, in flower from April to May, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


J. virginiana scopulorum. (Sarg.)Lemmon.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; Sunny Edge; Ground Cover;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Shoots
Edible Uses: Coffee  Condiment  Tea

Fruit - raw or cooked[105, 161, 183]. Sweet and fleshy, but strongly flavoured[85, 229]. Resinous[227]. Often used as a flavouring, imparting a sage-like taste, for which purpose it is usually dried and ground into a powder[85, 183]. The fruit can also be dried and ground into a meal for making mush and cakes[183].The fruits are about 5 - 8mm in diameter[200, 227]. The roasted fruit is a coffee substitute[183]. A tea is made from the fruits and young shoots[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidandruff  Appetizer  Diaphoretic  Disinfectant  Diuretic  Haemostatic  Kidney  Laxative  
Parasiticide  Poultice  Sedative  Stomachic  Tonic  VD

Rocky Mountain juniper was widely employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it in particular to treat problems connected with the chest and kidneys[257]. It is little, if at all, used in modern herbalism. A tea made from the terminal shoots has been used in the treatment of VD by some N. American Indian tribes[213]. The treatment has to be taken over a long period of time[257]. The fruits are appetizer, diuretic and stomachic[257]. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach, kidney and bladder problems[213, 257]. An infusion of the twigs has been used in the treatment of fevers, pneumonia, coughs and colds[257]. A poultice of the mashed and dampened branches has been applied to skin sores[257]. The leaves are diaphoretic, disinfectant, febrifuge, haemostatic, laxative, sedative and tonic[99, 216, 257]. A decoction has been used in the treatment of internal bleeding, constipation and constant coughing[257]. The leaves have been boiled, then mixed with turpentine and used as an external treatment on rheumatic joints[257]. The leaves have been rubbed into the hair in order to treat dandruff[213, 257].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Beads  Disinfectant  Incense  Parasiticide  Repellent  Shelterbelt  Tinder  Wax  Wood

A fragrant wax on the fruits can be obtained by boiling the fruit and skimming off the wax as it floats to the surface. It is used to make aromatic candles but is only present in small quantities[85]. The boughs are used as an incense to fumigate houses and to drive off smells. The wood can be burnt or just hung in the room, or it can be boiled up in water and the water used to wash the walls, floor etc[99]. The bark is employed as a tinder and is also made into a slow match[216]. The dried seeds have been used as beads or as the 'rattle' in rattles[99, 216]. The fruits and the leaves are used as an insect repellent[169]. A strong infusion of the cones is used to kill ticks[99]. Plants can be grown as a ground cover, the cultivar 'Repens' is especially suitable[208]. A fairly wind resistant tree, it can be grown as part of a shelterbelt planting[200]. In N. America it is used to some extent in re-afforestation and shelterbelt plantings on the prairies[227]. Wood - extremely tough, aromatic, close grained, light, fairly strong in endwise compression but moderately weak in bending, hard, durable in the soil. Used for interior finishes, bows, hoops, hafts, wheels etc[99, 149, 227].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Alpine garden, Border, Screen, Specimen, Street tree. Succeeds in most soils, including chalk[200], so long as they are well drained, preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil[1, 11]. A drought tolerant species once established, succeeding in hot dry positions[200]. Plants are fairly wind-resistant[200]. A long-lived but slow-growing tree in its native range[227], it is very slow growing in Britain where it only makes a shrub[185]. Closely allied to J. virginiana[1, 81] and hybridising with it where the ranges meet[226]. It differs mainly in the fruit, which takes two years to mature in this species instead of one[226]. Plants are resistant to honey fungus[88]. This tree is apparently resistant to the rust fungus that attacks the closely related J. virginiana[149]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features:North American native, Fragrant foliage, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots spreading near the soil surface [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration[78, 81]. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process[11]. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years[1]. Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn[1, 78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Readers comment

Lawre   Tue May 16 2006

JuniperTrees.com Juniper Trees .com is a site dedicated to using junipers in the garden.

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