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Juniperus communis var. depressa (Common juniper)
Cressler, Alan

Juniperus communis var. depressa

Juniperus communis L. var. depressa Pursh

Common Juniper, Old Field Juniper, Prostrate Juniper

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Juniperus canadensis, Juniperus communis ssp. depressa, Juniperus depressa

USDA Symbol: jucod

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

Usually a low-spreading, evergreen shrub, 3-6 ft. tall, with trailing branches ascending stiffly at the tips, this juniper often forms circular mats several yards in diameter. Awl-shaped needles, whorled in sets of three, form sharp points. The foliage is gray-green to blue-green in summer, sometimes assuming a yellow or brownish cast in winter. The fruit is berry-like, blue-black, and covered with a powdery bloom.


From the Image Gallery

24 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Usually a spreading shrub up to about 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Rarely grows as a tree, up to about 30 feet tall.
Fruit: Though technically incorrect, the seed cones are often referred to as berries.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Flowers are inconspicuous. Pollen cones and seed cones are produced on separate plants.


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: NB , NL , NS , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf. to AK, s. to NJ, n. IN, n.e. IL, the Dakotas & occasional in w. & s.e. mt. states
Native Habitat: Wooded hillsides; mountain woodlands

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Dry, rocky or sandy soils.
Conditions Comments: The species J. communis is the most widely distributed native conifer in the world. It is extremely hardy and adaptable to diverse soil and climatic conditions. It is susceptible, however, to juniper blight.


Use Wildlife: Valuable wildlife habitat and food.
Use Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Berries"" used to flavor gin and for cooked meats and red cabbage. Juniper tea can be made by placing a dozen young berryless twigs in a quart of cold water.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Fleshy cones (resemble berries), leaves. Toxic Principle: Volatile oils including thujone.
Interesting Foliage: yes


Description: Generally, cuttings should be taken after several hard freezes although references point to any time from July to April. Hormone treatment improves rooting. Propagation is also possible by seed. Seed can be sown outdoors in fall or stratified and sown
Seed Collection: Collect ripened fruits in fall or winter, clean by maceration, dry seeds, and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Warm treatment followed by cold stratification is beneficial.
Commercially Avail: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
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Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
December 07, 2009
I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall an...
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Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Juniperus communis var. depressa in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Juniperus communis var. depressa in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Juniperus communis var. depressa


Record Modified: 2022-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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