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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Juniperus scopulorum (Rocky mountain juniper)
Reveal, James L.

Juniperus scopulorum

Juniperus scopulorum Sarg.

Rocky Mountain Juniper, Rocky Mountain Red Cedar, Mountain Red Cedar, Colorado Red Cedar, Western Red Cedar, River Juniper, Western Juniper, Cedro Rojo

Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Synonym(s): Juniperus scopulorum var. columnaris, Juniperus virginiana ssp. scopulorum, Juniperus virginiana var. montana, Juniperus virginiana var. scopulorum, Sabina scopulorum

USDA Symbol: jusc2

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

A columnar to somewhat rounded evergreen tree, Rocky Mountain Juniper often supports several main stems. The juvenile foliage consists of pointed, white-coated needles. Adult, scale-like foliage varies in color from dark- to bluish- or light-green. Round, dark-blue, berry-like cones, covered with a whitish bloom, ripen in the second year. Mature size is from 30-40 ft., or more, high with a spread of 3-15 ft. Bark is reddish-brown or gray and shedding.

A graceful ornamental, often with narrow crown of drooping foliage, several varieties differ in form and in leaf color. The aromatic wood is especially suited for cedar chests and is also used for lumber, fenceposts, and fuel. Wildlife eat the "berries". This species is closely related to Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana L.), which has dark green foliage and "berries" that mature in one year.


From the Image Gallery

60 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Up to about 65 feet tall, often much shorter.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Seed cones blue. Though technically incorrect, the seed cones are often referred to as berries.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: AZ , CO , ID , MT , ND , NE , NM , NV , OK , OR , SD , TX , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: B.C. to AZ and Sonora, e. to ND, w. TX, and Coahuila
Native Habitat: Rocky or sandy hillsides; mountains

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Dry, rocky or sandy soils. Rocky Caliche type Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam, Clay Loam, Clay.
Conditions Comments: Rocky Mountain juniper is slow-growing. It tolerates drought and salt spray but does not adapt to high humidity or high night temperatures. It is susceptible to juniper blight and serves as an alternate host for cedar apple rust.


Use Ornamental: Attractive
Use Wildlife: Provides nesting site, cover, seeds for small mammals. Also attracts Cedar Waxwings, Northern Mockingbird, Evening Grosbeak as well as other species.
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Olive butterfly


Description: Generally, nodal 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 but is less reliable.
Seed Collection: Collect ripened fruits in fall or winter, clean by maceration, dry seeds, and store in sealed, refrigerated containers.
Seed Treatment: Warm stratification at 60 degrees for 45-90 days, followed by cold stratification will hasten germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

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

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Replacing grass with xeric plants in Nevada
March 20, 2009
I am looking to xeriscape my front yard - remove all grass! I am thinking 3-4 larger plants: bird of paradise (mesquite??), aloe, and ..?? Also, possibly a Chilean mesquite. Do you have suggestio...
view the full question and answer

Privacy hedge for South Dakota
August 08, 2008
Hi, I'm looking for something to use as a hedge. 8 foot or so tall offering semi privacy all year. I like dogwoods but loss of leaves in the winter makes me skeptical. Boxwood would be interesting...
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Columnar evergreen for Colorado
July 04, 2008
I am looking for an evergreen 6-8 (or more) feet tall, very columnar; 3 feet spread in diameter, zone 5, full sun, dark green, clayish-OK soil. Thank you so much!
view the full question and answer

From the National Organizations Directory

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

Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR


Bibref 298 - Field Guide to Texas Trees (1999) Simpson, B.J.
Bibref 355 - Landscaping with Native Plants of Texas and the Southwest (1991) Miller, G. O.
Bibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

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

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-03-23
Research By: TWC Staff

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