Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Juniperus ashei


Ashe juniper, Ashe's juniper, Mountain cedar, Blueberry juniper


Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)



Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper)
Marcus, Joseph A.
Evergreen tree with trunk often grooved and twisted or branched from base, and with rounded or irregular, open crown; sometimes forming thickets. Ashe junipers large, radiating branches, which start almost at ground level, give the illusion of a multi-trunked tree. Female trees with blue berrylike cones; male with a burnt gold appearance in winter due to pollen. Fragrant, dark-green foliage, blue fruits on females, and shaggy bark are characteristic of this 30 ft. evergreen.

Though a fragrant, evergreen, and picturesque tree, Ashe Juniper pollen, like that of many junipers, is very irritating to people with cedar allergies, so where the tree occurs in large concentrations, as in central Texas, it often becomes hated and targeted for removal, with various, sometimes invented, rationalizations given for doing so. Ashe Juniper is native from southern Missouri south through Oklahoma and then down through central and west Texas to northern Chihuahua. It was abundant in central Texas when the earliest European explorers arrived, having existed in the region at least since the Pleistocene. It is thus an integral part of the native flora. The uniquely rich and well-draining soil that builds up as juniper leaves fall and decompose is ideal for several native plants, some of which tend to occur almost exclusively in association with it, including Cedar Sage (Salvia roemeriana) and Cedar Rosette Grass (Dichanthelium pedicillatum). The beautiful but notoriously difficult to propagate Texas Madrone (Arbutus xalapensis) also seems to germinate best in the soil beneath these trees. Other central Texas plants often seen under or near it are American Smoke Tree (Cotinus obovatus), White Limestone Honeysuckle (Lonicera albiflora), Lindheimers Garrya (Garrya ovata var. lindheimeri), and Orange Zexmenia (Wedelia texana). Better known is that a rare warbler, the Golden-cheeked Warbler, uses Ashe Juniper bark almost exclusively to build its nests. Many kinds of wildlife eat the sweetish berries, and the durable wood is a local source of fenceposts. The tree is named in honor of William Willard Ashe 1872-1932, pioneer forester of the United States Forest Service, who collected a specimen in Arkansas.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Dioecious
Size Notes: Rarely grows over 30 feet tall.
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Time: Feb

Distribution

USA: AR , MO , OK , TX
Native Distribution: S. MO, s.w. through AR and OK to central and w. TX, s.e. NM, & Chihuahua
Native Habitat: Canyons; arroyos; limestone outcrops

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Rocky, well-drained soils. Limestone-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay
Conditions Comments: Texas madrone, Texas smoke tree, silk-tassel tree, cedar sage, and zexmenia germinate and grow well beneath ashe juniper, refuting the rumor that nothing grows under these trees. Ashe juniper is immune to cedar-apple rust. It invades disturbed sites.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Aromatic, Attractive, ornamental.
Use Wildlife: Ashe juniper berries are highly palatable to many species of birds and small mammals. The bark of Ashe juniper is very is used for nesting material by the rare golden-cheeked warbler.
Use Other: Ashe juniper is used for fenceposts, crossties, poles and fuel.
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Juniper hairstreak, Olive butterfly.
Deer Resistant: Minimal

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Juniperus ashei is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Juniper Hairstreak
(Callophrys gryneus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Last Update: 2013-05-11