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Juniperus californica

Juniperus californica Carrière

California Juniper, Desert White Cedar

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Juniperus cedrosiana, Juniperus cerrosianus, Juniperus pyriformis, Sabina californica

USDA Symbol: JUCA7

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A tree-like shrub, usually 10-15 ft. high, with stout, irregular stems and a broad, erect, open habit. Bark is ashy gray, foliage is bluish-gray and scale-like, and berry-like cones are bluish, turning reddish-brown.

Able to withstand heat and drought, this species extends farther down into the semidesert zone than other junipers and is important in erosion control on dry slopes. Indians used to gather the "berries" to eat fresh and to grind into meal for baking.


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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Dioecious
Inflorescence: Terminal
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 25 feet tall, often shorter.
Fruit: Berry-like cones are bluish, turning reddish-brown.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Male flowers and female flowers are on separate trees. Flowers inconspicuous. Pollen cones cream to reddish brown.


Native Distribution: Mts. of CA, s. NV & w. AZ; also Mex.
Native Habitat: Dry, alkaline slopes & flats below 5000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Dry, alkaline soils.
Conditions Comments: Very ornamental and drought-tolerant.


Use Wildlife: Provides food and shelter for a variety of wildlife.
Attracts: Butterflies

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Sequoia sphinx
(Sphinx sequoiae)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Seed can be sown outdoors in fall or stratified and sown in spring. Seed germination is often poor, so a large quantity of seeds should be sown.
Seed Collection: Collect seeds from late summer through fall when it has turned its ripe color. Seed can be extracted by running the fruits through a macerator. Thoroughly dry and clean seeds to avoid mold and overheating. If not planting immediately, air dry before storing. Store in sealed containers at 20-40 degrees.
Seed Treatment: Stratify at 41 degrees for 30-120 days. Germination may also be prompted with burn treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 3 - Flora of North America (2014) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.

Additional resources

USDA: Find Juniperus californica in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Juniperus californica in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Juniperus californica


Record Modified: 2022-10-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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