Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Common Juniper - Juniperus communis   L.
Members of Juniperus with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 3 » Order Pinales » Family Cupressaceae
AuthorL.
DistributionOnly in the extreme southwestern Piedmont and southern mountains. Nearly restricted to monadnocks and granitic domes in this small region.

This species has a huge range, being found across all of southern Canada and nearly all Western states. In the East, however, it is spottily recorded south of PA and MI, found south to SC and AL.
AbundanceRare and local in the southwestern Piedmont and southern mountains, in a highly restricted set of habitats. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatIt is found only in thin rocky soil -- around granitic domes, exposed outcrops, and rocky summits, in acidic soils. A few populations grow within open forests, but where xeric and rocky and along summit ridges.
See also Habitat Account for Montane Rock Barrens
PhenologySheds pollen in March and April; female cones mature in the second or third year.
IdentificationThe variety found in NC is a low evergreen shrub, with male and female reproductive parts on separate plants (i.e., dioecious); it seldom reaches 3 feet tall, and has widely spreading branches -– giving a matted look. The small, awl- or needle-like leaves are in whorls of three and average only 1/2-inch long. The small rounded fruit are eventually bluish-black, but as they take a long time to mature, they often are seen as green “berries”. This should be an unmistakable species to identify, particular within its rocky and often exposed habitat. Most people have never seen it in the wild, but they have seen it (or some forms of it) in cultivation in yards and gardens.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has such a wide distribution and growth form that it is no surprise that there are a number of varieties. The taxon in the Southeast is J. communis var. depressa.

Other Common Name(s)The full species is usually called Common Juniper. The variety in the Southeast (var. depressa) is given the names of Ground Juniper, Dwarf Juniper, or Mountain Juniper.
State RankS1
Global RankG5
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