Juniperus monosperma

One Seeded Juniper - Juniperus monosperma
Bloodgood Spring Trail
Black Range near Kingston
New Mexico , USA

There are two Juniper species that you are likely to encounter in the Black Range - the Alligator Juniper and the One Seeded Juniper, Juniperus monosperma.  The One Seeded Juniper is not as common in our area as the Alligator Juniper.  They are fairly easy to tell apart, the bark of the One Seeded Juniper is “stringy” while that of the Alligator Juniper has that wonderful deep scale pattern.

The range of the One Seeded Juniper is fairly restricted.  It is found naturally in New Mexico,  Arizona, the northern part of Chihuahua, the southern part of Colorado, and western Oklahoma and Texas.  The range map, below, is courtesy of the United States Geological Survey, from Elbert Little’s, Atlas of United States Trees.  The species may be extricated in Mexico.

We perceive it is a slow growing plant, in optimum conditions the part of the plant which is above ground may grow only six inches in one year. Below the surface, it is a different story entirely.  A three year old plant, which may be less than two feet tall, may have a tap root which is thirty feet long.  Mature plants often have tap roots which are 200 feet long or more.  For this reason it is a very drought tolerant plant.

This species is dioecious, there are male and female plants.  The males release their pollen in the spring, to be spread by our remarkable spring winds.  The pollen bloom is effective in fertilizing the female plants and in driving up the sales of antihistamines in the local (human) population.  About five months after pollination the berries on the female tree are mature and have a deep blue/purple color.

The Indigenous Peoples used parts of the plant for teas, dyes, and for medicinal purposes.

The species was first described by George Engelmann, who described many species from western North America.

North of Cooke's Peak, New Mexico, USA
Immediately above and five below.


Trail 135, Black Range, New Mexico
April 11, 2020

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