CHINESE JUNIPER - JUNIPERUS CHINENSIS

Common Name: Chinese Juniper

Scientific Name: 
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus
Species: chinensis

Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 50 to 60 ft
Width: 15 to 20 ft

Common Characteristics: ​​

Chinese juniper is a popular dioecious evergreen conifer. Although the species is a conical tree that can grow up to 60 feet high and 20 feet wide, a wide variety of cultivated varieties are available for garden and landscape use that range from trees to shrubs down to ground covers. Brown bark on mature trees with peel off in strips. The foliage has two different types; scale-like (adult) and awl/needle-like (juvenile/new year growth). Adult needles are opposite and along the branches and are very short, blunt, and convex. The juvenile needles are arranged in whorls of 3 or opposite pairs and are also short and convex but are pointed. The foliage color ranges from green to blue-green to gray-green. Since it is a dioecious species, cones (both pollen and seed-bearing) are found on different plants. Male Chinese junipers produce catkin-like pollen cones and female plants produce berry-like, whitish-blue seed cones. As the seed cones mature, they take on a violet-brown color. 

Where it Grows:

Chinese juniper prefers dry soil or moist well-drained alkaline soils. Plant in full sun for best results. It can also tolerate many different air pollutants and road salt so it is great urban foliage. Do not plant in wet soils. 

How it's Used:

Chinese juniper has many different landscapes uses due to the vast variety of cultivars and sizes. 

Ecosystem Services:

Small mammals, songbirds, and game mammals and birds use the juniper as shelter and a food source.

Where it is Native To:

It is native to China, Japan, Mongolia, and the Himalayas.

Known Varieties and Their Traits:

  • Ames Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Ames’): Broad pyramidal shrub, 8 to 10 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Steel-blue young needles turn green when mature. Female cultivar produces silver-blue berries.
  • Blue Point Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’): A cultivar of pyramidal shape that is 12 feet high and 8 feet wide and densely branched.

  • Fairview Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Fairview’): A narrow, pyramidal small tree, 10 to 15 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. Bright green foliage and silver-blue, berry-like globular cones. Older stems have thin exfoliating bark.

  • Gold Lace Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Gold Lace’): A compact form with golden foliage that is  3 to 4 feet high and 5 to 6 feet wide.

  • Hetz columnar Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Hetzii Columnaris’): An upright, pyramidal form that is 10 to 15 feet high and 5 feet wide.

  • Iowa Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Iowa’): An upright pyramidal small tree, 8 to 10 feet high and 10 feet wide. Its dense, spire-like form opens with age and its blue-green foliage turns green with age. It has large blue fruit.

  • Kallay’s Compact Pfitzer Juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana Kallay’): A low, flat-topped, spreading shrub that is 2 to 3 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide. It is resistant to most pests (including deer) and cedar rust and juniper twig-blight diseases. Bagworm can be a problem. Female plants produce berry-shaped cones, but nurseries often do not sell these shrubs with the gender known.

  • Keteleer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Keteleeri’): A broadly pyramidal small tree, 15 to 20 feet high and wide. Disease resistant. Light to medium green foliage and large fruit.

  • Mountbatten Chinese juniper  (Juniperus chinensis ‘Mountbatten’): Narrow pyramidal tree, 15 to 20 feet high and 10 to 15 feet wide. Dense grayish-green foliage, large fruit, and excellent winter hardiness.

  • Perfecta Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Perfecta’): An upright, narrowly pyramidal form that is 15 to 18 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide.

  • Pfitzer Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Pfitzeriana’): A wide-spreading shrub, 5 to 7 feet high and 15 to 20 feet wide. An old-fashioned juniper variety that is rarely sold but exists in many landscapes with angled branches and sage green foliage.

  • Sea Green Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis ‘Sea Green’): A compact spreading shrub, 4 to 6 feet high and 6 to 8 feet wide. Branches are more upright than ‘Pfitzeriana’ and foliage remains dark green in winter. Susceptible to phomopsis blight.

Problems:

Needle blights in wet springs can be a problem and they can be susceptible to cedar-apple rust. Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.

 

References:

'Chinese Juniper'. Morton Arboretum. Found online: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/chinese-juniper/#overview

'Juniperis chinensis'. The Missouri Botanical Garden. Found online: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?taxonid=279597&isprofile=1&basic=chinese%20juniper 

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