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Juniperus oxycedrus L.

Prickly Juniper

Modern name

Juniperus oxycedrus L.

A dioecious shrub or small tree with a reddish-grey bark. Leaves in whorls of three, spreading, awl-shaped, 12 to 34 in. long, about 112 in. wide, swollen and jointed at the base, tapered at the apex to a prickly point, green and sharply keeled beneath, upper surface with two glaucous bands of stomata, separated by the raised green midrib. Fruits dark red or purplish, about 12 in. wide.

Native of S. Europe eastward to the Caucasus and Iraq. It is rare in cultivation, needing a warmer and drier climate than ours to thrive well. The only specimen of any size recorded recently grows in the National Pinetum at Bedgebury, Kent; it measures 27 × 112 ft (1967).

subsp. macrocarpa (Sibth. & Sm.) Ball J. macrocarpa Sibth. & Sm. – This differs from the typical subspecies described above only in its slightly larger fruits and slightly wider leaves (about 116 in. wide). It occurs almost throughout the range of the species, usually in rocky or sandy places near the sea, while typical J. oxycedrus is an inhabitant of hills and lower mountain slopes.

J. oxycedrus is related to J. communis but is easily distinguished by its leaves with two glaucous bands above, separated by the raised midrib.

J. cedrus Webb & Berth. – A native of the Canary Islands, closely allied to J. oxycedrus, from which it differs in its larger size and more rigid needles. Of this interesting tree very few specimens are said now to remain in the wild, mostly in almost inaccessible places. Dr Perez of Orotava did much to revive an interest in this remarkable juniper, some specimens of which he said have trunks a yard or more in diameter. The wood of this tree is very pleasantly perfumed and was valued by the Guanches of Tenerife for making mummy cases. Unfortunately it is only hardy in the milder parts and the only large specimen known grows at Castlewellan in Co. Down; this measures 33 × 212 + 2 ft (1966).

Juniperus oxycedrus

Juniperus oxycedrus

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

There are no noteworthy specimens of this species. The Castlewellan specimen of J. cedrus mentioned on page 490 measures 33 × 214 + 214 ft (1976).



Other species in the genus