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Utah Juniper (Utah Cedar)

Juniperus osteosperma

Juniperus osteosperma

Family: Cupressaceae – Cypress Family

Juniperus osteosperma is the only species from this family represented at Arches National Park. Evergreen tree - conifer; 6.6' to 13.2' (2 to 4 m) tall

Leaves: scalelike or awl-shaped; evergreen; leaves typically opposite; leaves have a conspicuous resin gland on the back

Flowers: conifer (see cone description under fruits)

Pollinators: wind; not self-fertile

Fruits: staminate (male) cones brown at the terminal ends or in joints between the leaf and stem 0.12” to 0.16” (3 to 4 mm) long; ovulate (female) cones becoming blue at maturity and look berrylike 0.24” to 0.48” (6 to 12 mm) thick or more

Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May

Habitat in Arches National Park: riparian, desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities

Location seen: widespread

Other: The genus name, “Juniperus”, is the Latin name for "juniper" and the species name, “osteosperma”, comes from the Greek and means "hard or bony seed".

The bark is shreddy. The oldest Utah juniper in Utah has been aged at more than 1275 years.

Did You Know?

Ed Abbey

Edward Abbey worked as a seasonal park ranger at Arches in the late 1950s. His 1968 memoir of this experience, "Desert Solitaire," has become a classic of desert literature.