Juniperus osteosperma


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Juniperus osteosperma
Species Authority: (Torr.) Little
Common Name(s):
English Utah Juniper, Bigberry Juniper
Spanish Sabina Morena
Juniperus tetragona Schltdl. variety osteosperma Torr.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2011-03-08
Assessor(s): Farjon, A.
Reviewer(s): Adams, R & Thomas, P.

Juniperus osteosperma is the most wide-spread species of juniper in the extensive Pinyon-Juniper woodland formation of the SW USA; it has little commercial value and occurs often on rocky escarpments and plateaus where few other plants get a foothold. It is therefore assessed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Endemic to western USA: Arizona, E California, Colorado, S Idaho, S Montana, Nevada, W New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming.
United States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming)
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: An aggressive juniper, invading grasslands in Utah. Current control/eradication programs are unlikely to control it, as fire control is so good (and desired by the public).
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species is a codominant in the widespread Pinyon-Juniper woodland of the Intermountain Region of the American West, with Pinus edulis, P. monophylla (in the SW of its range), P. cembroides (in the S of its range), Juniperus scopulorum, J. occidentalis (in the W of its range), Seriphidium tridentatum (Artemisia tridentata), Chrysothamnus spp., Quercus gambelii, and Ephedra viridis, or in pure stands at the lower altitudinal limits of the community. The altitudinal range is 460-2,700 m a.s.l. Juniperus osteosperma is abundant on rocky or gravelly alluvial fans and hillsides, as well as on bare sandstone or shale where it finds crevices in the rock to grow in. It is one of the most drought resistant junipers in North America.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: In many arid places on the Colorado Plateau and elsewhere in its extensive range, this species of juniper is the most important small tree providing important habitat for wildlife. Its use for firewood is now incidental and its contorted habit when growing older precludes most other uses of its wood. In regions with dry and hot summers it could be used in gardens; it is very hardy as it occurs naturally in continental climate and at high altitudes

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): No specific threats have been identified for this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is present in many protected areas, among which are famous national parks, in the (semi-)arid southwest.

Citation: Farjon, A. 2013. Juniperus osteosperma. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 31 August 2015.
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