E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Juniperus scopulorum Sarg.
Rocky Mountain juniper
Cupressaceae (Cypress family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Virginia Skilton  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #89430)

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Distribution of Juniperus scopulorum
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Species Information

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Usually a small, erect evergreen tree to 10 m tall, with conical form, but also a sprawling shrub less than 1 m; bark reddish-brown, scaly or fibrous and stringy.
Mostly scalelike, opposite, not prickly, but young leaves needle-like, 5-7 mm long, in whorls of three on stem.
Seed cones fleshy, berrylike, 5-6 mm long, bluish-purple when mature, glaucous; pollen and seed cones on separate plants.
See J. horizontalis for discussion of hybridization.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Early Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Blue
Present from Fall to Winter
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Dry open, often calcareous, rocky soils in the lowland, steppe and montane zones; infrequent in S BC, rare northward to Telegraph Creek; E to SW AB and S to AZ, NM, CO and W NE.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Juniperus scopulorum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 15 980 2854
Slope Gradient (%) 0 36 160
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 193 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 2 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(2), BG(126), BWBS(6), CDF(1), CWH(3), ESSF(23), ICH(74), IDF(729), MS(138), PP(82), SBPS(5), SBS(36), SWB(1)

Ecological Indicator Information

A very shade-intolerant, montane, Western North American evergreen coniferous shrub distributed more in the Cordilleran than the Pacific region. Occurs predominantly in continental cool temperate and cool semiarid climates on excessively dry to very dry and nitrogen-medium (often alkaline) soils; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality and temperature. In the coastal region, very sporadic in open­canopy shrub communities on very shallow, water-shedding sites of calcium-rich rock outcrops; common in the coast­interior ecotone. Characteristic of moisture-deficient sites.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is cool temperate & cool semiarid.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Juniperus scopulorum var. columnaris Fassett
Juniperus virginiana subsp. scopulorum (Sarg.) E. Murray
Juniperus virginiana var. montana Vasey
Juniperus virginiana var. scopulorum (Sarg.) Lemmon
Sabina scopulorum (Sarg.) Rydb.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References