The World Botanical Associates Web Page
Prepared by Richard W. Spjut
December 2005; June 2007, Dec 2007, Feb 2012, Dec 2012, Feb 2014

Juniperus californica

San Luis Obispo Co. CA
Spjut & Casterline 14602, Feb. 2002

Juniperus californica

Kern River Canyon, ~2,400 ft, image of entire plants, Mar 2011, close-up, Feb 2012. SPJ-16861, dioecious, fruit (arcesthida) with 2 seeds.


Juniperus californica

West of Canebrake Creek crossing, Hwy 178,  ~4,200 ft, image of tree-female, Mar 2011, all other Feb 2012. SPJ-16862, dioecious, fruit (arcesthida) with 1 seed.


Juniperus californica

Spring Mountains, NV;
Limestone slopes, 5,000 ft; May. 2006.
Note: The common  juniper reported for this region is J. osteosperma, whereas J. californica has been reported south of here in the Newberry Mts.  Impressed glands conspicuous on some leaves suggest J. californica.



Juniperus californica

Southern Sierra Nevada/Tehachapi Mts.,
Pacific Crest Trail 1 mi E of Cameron, CA
June 2012. Plants mostly dioecious, one found monoecious but cones predominantly female. 
Leaf glands evident but not conspicuous.



Juniperus communis

Apache-Sitgreaves Natl. For., northeastern AZ
Oct 2007



Juniperus deppeana

Apache-Sitgreaves Natl. For., AZ
Oct 2007


Juniperus deppeana


Coronado National Forest, NM
Spjut & Marin 14545, Nov. 2001



Juniperus flaccida

Chisos Mts., TX
Spjut & Marin 14470; Oct. 2001



Juniperus grandis

Domeland Wilderness, Inyo. Co.,
July 2004

Juniperus occidentalis

Warner Mts., Modoc Co., CA
June 2005


Juniperus occidentalis

Black Mt., NE of Yreka, Siskiyou Co., CA
Garry oak woodland, elev. ca. 2700 ft.,
May 2007
Photo on left by Susan Spjut

Juniperus osteosperma

Southern Utah, Fish Lake Dist., Sep 2007. Monoecious.


Juniperus osteosperma

Central Nevada, Monitor Range., July 2007




Juniperus osteosperma

Spring Mts., Lovell Canyon, ~4,700 ft, NV, Feb 2012, SPJ-16867.  Trees and shrubs with thousands of cones, 99% of the cones on a tree predominantly male or female. Top images mostly male, bottom images mostly female.


Juniperus osteosperma

CA: Clark Mt., ~1500 m, June 2006

Juniperus osteosperma

NV: Esmeralda Co., Lida Summit,
 ~2,255 m, June 2007

Juniperus osteosperma

Kern Co., CA.  Banks above Kern River, within city limits of Kernville, Dec 29, 2007. Possibly dioecious, leaves opposite, glands not evident.

Juniperus osteosperma

Arches National Park, Utah
May 2008


Juniperus pinchotii

Chisos Mts., TX
Spjut & Marin 14471; Oct. 2001


Juniperus procera, Cupressaceae,

Spjut & Ensor 3198, Rift Valley Prov., Nakuru Dist, Mt. Londiani, Kenya


Trees and Shrubs of Kern County (Dec 2012, Sep 2015)

Juniperus. Cones fleshy, berry-like (arcesthida Spjut 1994; arcesthidium Stuppy & Spjut in prep.), maturing on leafy branches; 70 species and 27 varieties distributed in northern hemisphere (Adams 2008); 11 species used medicinally by native Americans (Moerman), 15 species active in the NCI antitumor screen during the 1960’s and 1970’s, primarily in KB, an assay sensitive to cytotoxic lignans (Hartwell). Three species in Kern County.

Key to Juniperus species

1. Low shrub wider than tall (<1m), main stems trailing along ground, 
or wide spreading with recurved leaders; leaves awl-shaped;
not known in Kern Co.................. ...................................... Juniperus communis

1. Shrub or tree, often taller ( >1m) than wide, low shrub forms with
with ascending stems; leaves scale-like, diamond-shaped.................................. 2

...... 2.  Trees with wide spreading branches from  trunk; leaves with
conspicuous mid gland depression;  male and female cones usually
on the same plant (95%); fruit cone blue-black below the exterior
whitish blue surface; Sierra Nevada near Owens Peak, Scodie Mts.,
above 2,000 m ........................................................................ Juniperus grandis
2. Shrubs or trees with ascending branches from trunk; leaves with or
without conspicuous depressed gland; male and females cones on the
same plant or on separate plants; fruit reddish brown below the blue
waxy surface....................................................................................................... 3

3.  Leaves slightly keeled in upper third; leaf glands occasionally
conspicuous on some leaves, centered at the widest part of leaf; male and
females cones usually on the same plant, although one sex may prevail;
young leafy shoots often spreading 45
⁰; banks of Kern River
near Kernville.................................................................. Juniperus osteosperma

Leaves in upper mid region depressed or puckered; impressed glands
visible on most leaves, centered slightly below the widest part of leaf;
male and female cones usually on separate plants (98%); young leafy
shoots often spreading >60
⁰; common.................. ............ Juniperus californica


Juniperus communis Linnaeus 1753. Common juniper. Low shrub with branches forming mats along ground, wider than tall, < 1 m high; leaves spreading so that an entire leaf is visible, arrowhead in shape.  A widely distributed species that might be expected in Kern Co.

Juniperus californica Carričre 1854. California juniper. Dioecious (98.1%, Adams 2011a), or rarely monoecious (Pacific Crest Trail, 1 mi E of Cameron, pers. obs. Jun 2012), usually shrubs, or rarely trees, usually with several trunks, branches ascending to erect; leaves awl-shaped, appressed to branches in whorls of 3 although appearing opposite or 4-sided on young twigs, overlapping so that only part of a leaf is visible, usually with a conspicuous glandular depression just below the widest part of leaf; berry-like cones (arcesthida, Spjut 1994) with a reddish brown layer beneath an outer bluish layer.  Generally below 5000 ft, mostly Inner Coast Ranges, Transverse and Peninsular ranges, desert mountains, to southern Nevada, Arizona, and Baja California including several islands off the Pacific Coast (Cedros, Guadalupe). “California juniper woodland” (alliance) recognized in MCV2 when >3% cover over lower shrubs. Type from California without specific location.  Kern Co.  Common as a multi-stemmed shrub, occasionally as a tree with a single trunk observed west of Walker Pass along Hwy 178 in Three Pines Canyon, 487–1584 m (CCH).

            Infusion of leaves taken for colds, coughs, to relax muscles for childbirth, for pain, to cause sweating, for hangovers (also bark), for high blood pressure, and fruit chewed for “grippe fevers” (Moerman). Large samples of fruit collected by the World Botanical Associates during the 1980’s for chemopreventive screening by John Cassady, former Dean of the Ohio State University School of Pharmacy. Samples of twig –leaf were active in the NCI screen against KB (May-Jun 1966). Active agents in other species include cytotoxic lignans, notably podophyllotoxin, which was isolated from may apple (Podophyllum peltatum) based on its medicinal use for treating warts (Hartwell). Semi-synthetic derivatives continue to be developed for treating cancer.

            Adams (2011) recognized three population groups of California juniper according to terpenoid chemistry: (1) Central Valley, which included a sample from Kern Co. near Bodfish, (2) California Desert, and (3) Arizona Desert.

            The morphological distinction between the California juniper and the Utah juniper is not entirely clear despite the distinguishing features mentioned  in regard to whorled vs. opposite leaves, conspicuous vs. inconspicuous leaf glands, dioecious vs. monoecious, and tree vs. shrub habit.  The conspicuous gland seems to be the best character feature for recognizing California juniper, whereas the keeled midrib on the upper third of the leaf seems best for identifying the Utah juniper. A columnar form, f. lutheyana J. T. Howell & Twisselmann [Four Seasons 2(4): 16 1968], was recognized from near Kernville and from several miles south of Bodfish. I have not seen this form. 

            The California juniper alliance occurs in diverse habitat types within Kern County as evident by the various adjacent alliances. These include California ephedra shrubland in the Caliente Range in the western San Joaquin Valley and in the Caliente hills subregion, Tucker oak woodland in the San Emgidio Mts. and Southern Sierra Nevada, Piute cypress woodland in the Piute Mts., chamise chaparral and blue oak woodland in the Caliente subregion, white leaf manzanita shrubland on east slopes of the Greenhorn, pinyon pine forest near Walker Pass and Joshua tree woodland on eastern slopes of Sierra Nevada and Tehachapi Mts. However, only 7 of the 24 associations listed in MCV2 for both J. californica and J. osteosperma alliances are evident in Kern County; the associations include species of (1) E. nevadensis (E Sierra Nevada along PCT, E Tehachapi Mts.) (2) E. viridis (Sierra Nevada), (3) Artemisia tridentata/Purshia glandulosa (E Sierra Nevada/W Mojave Desert), (4) Tetradymia axillaris (E Sierra Nevada), (5) Eriogonum fasciculatum (Piute Mts. region), (6) Ericameria linearifolia (San Joaquin Valley, E Sierra Nevada), and (7) annuals not specified (Carrizo Plain).

Juniperus grandis R. P. Adams 2006 [Juniperus occidentalis Hooker 1838. (Type from higher parts of Columbia, base of Rocky Mts.) var. australis (Vasek) A. Holmgren & N. Holmgren 1972; J. occidentalis ssp. australis Vasek 1966]. Sierra juniper, mountain juniper.  Dioecious trees with a large trunk; branches wide spreading; leaves similar to preceding except for the gland appearing puckered; berry-like cones bluish black underneath a bluish white layer. Inner North  Coast Ranges and Sierra Nevada with a disjunct occurrences in San Bernardino Mts. Type from San Bernardino Mts., Polique Canyon Rd, 0.2 north of North Shore Hwy. “Mountain juniper woodland” (alliance) recognized in MCV2 when relative cover is ≥2%.  Kern  Co.: Owens Peak and its north slopes; 8.9 miles south of Weldon on road to Kelso Valley (P. Raven, 2 May 1958); Scodie Mountains - just northeast of McIvers Spring at the end of FS road 26S35 (Shevock, 24 Jan 1984); 2,011–2,560 m (CCH). A sample of stem-bark collected in the 1960’s  was active in KB.

            Adams (2006) found that Sierra Nevada plants are not closely related to the western Juniper, which occurs from northern California (including Yolla Bolly Mts.) to Washington and Idaho. This led to a new name for the Sierra Nevada juniper.

Juniperus osteosperma (J. tetragona Schlechtendal 1838 var. osteosperma Torrey 1857) Little 1948 [J. utahensis (J. californica var. utahensis Engelmann 1878) Lemmon 1890]. Utah juniper.  Similar to California juniper. Monoecious shrubs or trees, or at some locations possibly dioecious, 99% (e.g., Spring Mts., NV, pers. obs.; see following discussion); leaves lacking a conspicuous resinous pit, arranged in opposite pairs (2-ranked); berry-like cones reddish brown underneath a bluish white layer.  Common in the Great Basin Desert, extending to the San Gabriel and San Bernardino Mts. Type from near Williams, Coconino Co., AZ.  “Utah juniper woodland” (alliance) recognized in MCV2 when absolute cover >1% and when pinyon pine and Joshua tree <1%. Kern Co.: Generally not recognized to occur in Kern County (Calflora); however, along the Kern River near Kernville are trees appearing monoecious with opposite leaves and obscure glands, and fruit appearing intermediate in size between the California and Utah junipers; these are identified J. osteosperma (Spjut photo, WBA web page). The habit is much like western juniper (J. occidentalis) in which 50% of plants can be dioecious, compared to 98.1 % for the California juniper. Western juniper, which occurs above 2000 m in Kern County, is also known to exhibit  sex reversal (Adams 2011a). Specimens in CCH collected within several miles of Kernville, 800–1200 m, are identified  J. californica, the rare columnar f. lutheyana also known from near Kernville. 

            Stuart and Sawyer (2001) and Sawyer at al. (MCV2) presented geographical distribution maps of California and Utah junipers that show the species overlap in their geographical range within the Mojave Desert west to San Joaquin Valley in Kern County. Stuart and Sawyer (2001) differentiated the species by whether leaves are whorled (“6-ranked,” J. californica) or opposite (“4-ranked,” JM2, J. osteosperma). Little (1948), who justified the species rank of the Utah and California junipers, distinguished them (J. osteosperma from J. californica) as follows: “the fruit of the former is globose and generally smaller, 6–13 (17) mm. in diameter instead of short-oblong and 20 mm. long in the latter; the branchlets of the former usually slender and bearing leaves in twos and threes, rather than stout, often glaucous, with leaves in threes, the leaves of the former acute or acuminate, slightly toothed on the margins, and with a conspicuous gland on the back or none, instead of rounded or acute, distinctly cartilaginous fringed with more marginal teeth, and usually with a conspicuous gland on back.”  Fruits of junipers in the Tehachapi Mts. were measured and found to be nearly 50% larger those along Caliente Creek (pers. obs., July 2015), thus, just the opposite of what one might expect.  Adams (2008) emphasized the conspicuous condition of the crateriform gland in mid leaf area and the monoecious vs. dioecious habit (JM2).

            The geographical distribution of Utah juniper woodland alliance (MVC2) is shown to include Kern Co. as a narrow band along the eastern Sierra Nevada south to the Tehachapi Mts., generally described as a “band between the lower desert scrub types and the higher Artemisia tridentata and pinyon-juniper woodlands.”  CCH lists only one collection of Utah juniper for Kern County, reportedly sterile, from south of Highway 178  west of Walker Pass [M. L. Conrad et al. 7231, 5245 ft. (1598.7 m), 35° 40' 00"N, 118° 02' 00"W (35.667, -118.033, in a small ditch with Pinus monophylla, Artemisia and Joshua tree]. Other CCH specimens of juniper from this area identified California juniper.  These include tree forms in Three Pines Canyon near Cane Brake Creek near where the NY Conrad specimen was reportedly collected (pers. obs. Feb 2011).  Junipers observed in this area were dioecious (pers. obs. Feb 2012); therefore, the Conrad et al. specimen is likely J. californica based on the dioecious character trait.

            Molecular studies by Adams (2006) and Adams and Kauffmann (2010) found  California juniper strongly separated from  J. occidentalis, J. osteosperma and J. grandis, based on three samples from desert locations outside Kern County—(1) Victorville and (2) Granite Pass in California, and (3) Yucca, Arizona. They (Adams & Kauffmann 2010) further concluded from other molecular data that populations of the J. osteosperma in the San Bernardino Mts., where sympatric with J. grandis, are indistinct from J. osteosperma in Utah and Nevada, and that populations in the Sierra Nevada and Yolla Bolly Mts., regarded as J. grandis, are part of a mosaic complex that is also not distinct from J. osteosperma.

            In the Spring Mts. of southwestern Nevada, Juniperus californica and J. osteosperma may occur together such as in Lovell Canyon where junipers are predominantly unisexual (dioecious) in which a visual estimate of 99% of thousands of the cones on a plant were either male or female for several juniper populations observed among 10 or more individuals in a population (pers. obs. Feb 2012). This is north of the  northernmost occurrence reported for J. californica—further southwest in Nevada, Christmas Tree Pass in the Newberry Mts. (SEINet).  Historical hybridization and introgression exhibiting clinal variation has been suggested between J. occidentalis and J. osteosperma (Terry et al. 2000). Hybridization between the two species might have occurred in Kern County; however, there is little molecular data for the junipers in Kern County.  But it should be noted that in the San Bernardino Mts. where J. californica and J. osteosperma occur in close proximity, there is no evidence of introgression between the species based on analysis of their volatile oils (Adams 2012).


Kupchan S. M., J. C. Hemingway and J. R. Knox.  Tumor inhibitors. VII. Podophyllotoxin, the active principle of Juniperus virginiana. 1965. J Pharm Sci. 54(4): 659–660.