Common Names: Utah Juniper
Scientific Name: Juniperus osteosperma
Size (height & diameter): 10-20 ft tall (3-6 m), 1 ft (0.3 m) in diameter
Habitat: Lowland riparian, mixed desert shrub, pinyon-juniper
Range: Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and California
Description: Utah juniper is one of two common members of the pinyon-juniper community which occurs at low to mid elevations in the park. It has fibrous bark that becomes shredded with age and bluish, waxy-coated seeds that help the tree conserve moisture. Utah juniper has been an important resource for humans for centuries being used for firewood, fence posts, food, beads, mats, and ropes.
Common Names: Two-needle Pinyon, Pinon Pine
Scientific Name: Pinus edulis
Size (height & diameter): 15-45 ft (4.6-13.7 m) tall, 2.5 ft (0.7 m) in diameter
Habitat: Mixed desert shrub, pinyon-juniper, lowland riparian
Range: Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas
Description: Pinon pine is one of two common members of the pinyon-juniper community, which occurs at low to mid elevations in the park. The Latin name translates to "edible pine" referring to its nutritious seeds which are sought after by humans and wildlife. The seeds are the primary food of the pinyon jay. The Pinon pine has thin, yellowish-brown bark that becomes furrowed and brown with age. Needles occur in bundles of two. The tree produces resin which has been used by native people as an adhesive and sealant to glue feathers and to waterproof baskets, and for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Common Names: Western Bristlecone Pine, Great Basin Bristlecone Pine
Scientific Name: Pinus longaeva
Size (height & diameter): 40-66 ft (12-20 m) tall, 12-30 in (0.3-0.8 m) in diameter
Habitat: Mixed-conifer forests usually occurring in isolated stands in harsh, high elevation environments. Scattered stands occur in the northern part of the park.
Range: Utah, Nevada, and California
Description: The Western bristlecone pine is the longest-lived tree known with some reaching nearly 5,000 years old. It has a gnarled, stunted appearance with older trees often being twisted and contorted. The bark is reddish-brown with deep fissures. The needles occur in bundles of 5.
Common Names: Fremont Cottonwood
Scientific Name: Populus fremontii
Size (height & diameter): Up to 75 ft (22.9 m) tall, 5 ft (1.5 m) in diameter
Habitat: Lowland riparian; it is a dominant tree of riparian areas in the park.
Flowering Season: Mid-spring to early summer
Range: Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, and New Mexico
Description: Young Fremont cottonwoods have smooth, white bark while older trees are furrowed and brown. The leaves are triangular with long petioles. Cottonwoods provide important habitat for wildlife, including foraging and nesting habitat for song birds and perching sites for raptors. Cottonwoods in the park are host to tent caterpillars which often defoliate the trees in the spring. However, most trees will grow a new set of leaves by summer. This tree was named after the explorer John Charles Fremont.
Did You Know?
Geologist G.K. Gilbert, a member of John Wesley Powell's scientific team, surveyed the Capitol Reef area in 1875. Gilbert mapped a fault line adjacent to Chimney Rock along Utah Highway 24, and a copy of his field sketch is incorporated into the park’s Junior Geologist program. More...