About 50-55 species, including:|
|Ref.: Gymnosperm Database|
Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae. There are about 50-55 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere to tropical Africa. They vary in size and shape from tall columnar forms to low cones or spreading platter-like shrubs with long trailing branches. Junipers are evergreen trees or shrubs with either needle-like or scale-like leaves. They can be either monoecious or dioecious; the female cones have fleshy, coalescing scales (see below), and unwinged, hard seeds. Some are sometimes misleadingly called cedars, the common name for species in the genus Cedrus, family Pinaceae. A number of species (such as Chinese Juniper J. chinensis from East Asia) are used in landscaping and horticulture.
Junipers have distinctive cones which are fruit-like in character: small cones in which the scales fuse together to form a fleshy "berry-like" structure. In some species these "berries" are red-brown or orange but in most they are blue; they are often aromatic. Many junipers have two types of leaves: seedlings and the young twigs of older trees, and all the foliage of a few species (e.g. J. communis), have needle-like leaves; while the leaves on mature plants of the other species are tiny, overlapping and scale-like.
|Table of contents|
2 Additional notes
3 External links
The junipers are divided into several sections, though (particularly among the scale-leaved species) which species belong to which sections is still far from clear, with research still on-going. The needle-leaved species are an obvious monophyletic group though.
The Rocky Mountain Juniper (J. scopulorum), One-seed Juniper (J. monosperma), Western Juniper (J. occidentalis), Utah Juniper (J. osteosperma) and California Juniper (J. californica) occur in the western United States. In the southwest United States there are four more species, including the Alligator Juniper (J. deppeana) with its thick bark checkered into scaly squares. Many of the earliest prehistoric people lived in or near the pinyon pine and juniper forests which furnished them food, fuel, and wood for shelter or utensils.
Juniper (or JUNIPER) is also the name of a classified encryption algorithm. See: Type 1 product