Sierra juniper, Juniperus grandis, Sequoia National Park


Juniperus grandis (formerly J. occidentalis ssp. australis)


Sierra juniper near Hamilton Lakes in Sequoia National Park

SIERRA JUNIPER is often a spectacular tree found in rugged, high-altitude situations, usually solitary or scattered with a few others of its species. Nearby trees might be lodgepole, western white, Jeffrey, or whitebark pines, mountain hemlock, or California red fir. The trunk is stout and tapered, the bark is shreddy, fibrous, russet or cinnamon colored, sometimes spiraling around the trunk. Needles are minute and scale-like. Cones are berry-like, bluish, .6 inches, and take two years to mature. Sierra juniper occurs from 6,500 feet to 10,500 feet in the Sierra. (Additional populations occur in the San Gabriel Mountains, and Panamint, Inyo and White Mountains).

Sierra juniper grows in granite, extending its roots deep into crevices in the rock. It is long-lived, to 1000 years, and some specimens have been cross-dated nearly to 2000 years (Kauffman). Huge champion, Bennett Juniper, near Sonora Pass, may even be 3000 years old.

Sierra juniper, Juniperus grandis, Yosemite National Park

This tree next to Stony Ridge Lake in Desolation Wilderness was loaded with "berries." 

sierra juniper scattered grove desolation wilderness

These Sierra junipers are scattered on a hillside near Rockbound Pass in Desolation Wilderness. Frequently one sees a single, often spectacular, tree. This location is the first place I saw many.

Sierra juniper snag south of Mineral King, Sequoia national Park

Hiking south of Mineral King in Sequoia National Park, I stopped to take a picture of this snag. Looking at the photo several years later, I noticed the live growth.

Map shows range of Sierra juniper (brown), and related species.

From Conifers of the Pacific Slope, Michael Kauffmann,