General: Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is a coniferous (cone-bearing) tree with tiny, scale-like leaves that are closely pressed against the stems. Plants monoecious (male and female parts on the same plant). The
female cones are round berries about 1/4 to 1/3-inch in diameter. Male cones are tiny, appearing as a few dead leaves on the tip of a stem). This species is most easily recognized by the single trunk that branches above
the ground, not from the ground.
In southern Nevada, Utah Juniper is common in all mountain ranges in the Upper Sonoran
(Pinyon-Juniper Woodland) life zone. This is the dominant species of juniper in southern Nevada,
and it is generally true that this is the "juniper" in the "Pinyon-Juniper Woodland."
Family: Cypress (Cupressaceae).
Plant Form: Small tree; rounded.
Height: To 15(25) feet.
Trunk: 0.5-1.0 feet diameter. Short, single clearly defined trunk, branching close to ground.
Bark: Thin, brownish aging to gray, shreddy in long strips, with narrow plates separating into loosely attached scales, deep furrows.
Branches: Upright to spreading; not drooping. Branchlets 3-dimensional (not flattened).
Needles: Yellowish green; scales in 2s, 4-ranked; gland obscure, serrated margins.
Cones: Female cones brown maturing reddish brown, but covered in bluish-white waxy coating; 1/3 to 1/2 inch diameter, dry and hard. Male cones tiny (2–3 mm long), cylindric, at branch tips.
Seeds: Seeds 1 (sometimes 2) per cone, 3–4 mm, strongly angled.
Habitat: Flats, canyons, and rocky mountain slopes into the lower mountains.
Elevation: 4,000 to 8,500 feet
Distribution: California to Montana and New Mexico.
Comments: Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) is the common species of juniper in the mountains and high-desert areas
around Las Vegas. This species can easily be seen at Red Rocks and along the roads leading to Mt. Charleston. This species is generally
recognized by the rounded shape and the single trunk at the base.