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California Juniper
Juniperus californica

About California Juniper (Juniperus californica) Juniperus californica (California Juniper) is a species in the Cupressaceae (Cypress) family native to southwestern North America; as the name implies, it is mainly found in California, but also extends through most of Baja California, and a short distance into southern Nevada and western Arizona. It grows at moderate altitudes of 750-1,600 meter. It is a shrub or small tree reaching 3-8 meter (rarely to 10 meter) tall. It is much branched from the base. The shoots are fairly thick compared to most junipers, 1.5-2 millimeter diameter. The leaves are arranged in opposite decussate pairs or whorls of three; the adult leaves are scale-like, 1-2 millimeter long (to 5 millimeter on lead shoots) and 1-1.5 millimeter broad. The juvenile leaves (on young seedlings only) are needle-like, 5-10 millimeter long. The cones are berry-like, 7-13 millimeter in diameter, blue-brown with a whitish waxy bloom, and contain a single seed (rarely two or three); they are mature in about 8-9 months. The male cones are 2-4 millimeter long, and shed their pollen in early spring. It is largely dioecious producing cones of only one sex, but around 2% of plants are monoecious, with both sexes on the same plant. The bark is typically thin and appears to be "shredded." In the garden this plant is tolerant of many soils and requires minimal water once established. It becomes wider than tall so give it plenty of room.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
9.8 - 26.3 ft (3 - 8 m)

Max. Width
20 ft (6.1 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Moderate, Slow


Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes and flats of high desert in the south to somewhat more mesic slopes of the Coast Ranges and Sierras

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
122' - 11104'

Annual Precip. ?
3.9" - 73.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 4.46"

Coldest Month ?
22.2° F - 59.1° F

Hottest Month ?
45.3° F - 87.6° F

Humidity ?
0.92 vpd - 38.48 vpd

Soil Description
Typically coarse, well drained and low nutrient soil such as decomposed granite

Soil PH
7.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 10° F

Sunset Zones ?
3, 6, 7*, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24

Companion Plants
In the wild it grows with many companions depending on location. In the garden it needs plenty of room and does not allow understory plants, but can be planted adjacent to Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), Buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.), Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa), Flannelbush (Fremontodendron californicum), Yucca (Hesperoyucca or Yucca sp.), Antelope Brush (Purshia tridentata var. glandulosa), and various cactus species

Wildlife Attracted
Many birds and mammals are attracted to the berries.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Prune in winter when wood boring insects are less active.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Butterfly Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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