Wasatch Wilderness: Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)

Utah Juniper Scale-like Bark – photo: Ashley Brown

WASATCH MOUNTAINS, Utah – The Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is an evergreen bushy tree native to Utah. It is the most predominant individual species in Utah and can be up to 650 years old. Another name for the tree is cedar, and Cedar Breaks National Monument is named after the plant. Indigenous peoples had many uses for the tough, flexible bark and wove it into cords, mats, bags, and sandals. The Utah juniper is popular for Christmas trees, mistletoe, and firewood.

The plant thrives in dry environments between 3,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation, often growing on plateaus, mountains, and hills with rocky soils. It can be between 15 and 40 feet high with gray, shredded bark. The yellow-green needles are a scaley texture and are grazed by mule deer when other plants are scarce. The Utah juniper pinecones are bluish-brown juniper berries that provide an essential food source during the winter and fall for small mammals and many bird species.

Utah Juniper Berries and Needles – photo: Ashley Brown

You May Also Like
TownLift Is Brought To You In Part By These Presenting Partners.

Add Your Organization