Juniperus occidentalis


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Family: Cupressaceae









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Western Juniper




Western juniper is one species of about 50 in the genus Juniperus, native to North America [14], Central America [11], West Indies [5], Bermuda [1] and the Old World [25]. The word juniperus is the classical Latin name, while the word occidentalis means western.

Other Common Names: California juniper, Canada juniper, cedar, enebro occidental, genevrier occidental, ginepro occidentale, pencilwood, San Bernardino juniper, Sierra juniper, vasterlandsk en, western cedar, western juniper, western red cedar, westerse juniper, yellow cedar.


Western juniper is native to the mountains of the Pacific Coast region from central and southeastern Washington south in southwestern Idaho, Oregon, northwestern and western Nevada, and from northern to southern California.

The Tree

Western juniper trees reach heights of 35 feet, with exceptional trees reaching heights of 87 feet, with a diameter of over 13 feet. The older trees may live for 1,000 years. It was introduced into England in 1840.

The Wood


The heartwood of western juniper is a light red to reddish brown. It is durable, fragrant, close grained, moderately heavy, light weight, relatively soft and brittle and splits easily. It is readily worked and takes a fine finish.

Mechanical Properties: No information available at this time.

Drying and Shrinkage: No information available at this time.

Kiln Drying Schedule: No information available at this time.

Working Properties: It is easily worked and takes a fine finish.

Durability: It is reported to have good natural durability (1,3&8).

Preservation: No information available at this time.

Uses: Fence posts, fuel wood, novelties, potential as a pencil wood.

Toxicity: May cause dermatitis and respiratory problems (4, 6 & 9).

Additional Reading and References Cited (in parentheses)

1. Dallimore, W.; Jackson, A. B., and Harrison, S. G. A handbook of Coniferae and Ginkgoaceae. London, UK: Edward Arnold Ltd.; 1966.

2. Dealy, J. E. Juniperus occidentalis Hook. Western Juniper. in: Burns, R. M. and Honkala, B. H., tech. coords. Silvics of North America. Volume 1, Conifers. Washington, DC: USDA Forest Service; 1990; pp. 109-115.

3. Elias, T. S. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. New York, NY: van Nostrand Reinhold Co.; 1980.

4. Hausen, B. M. Woods injurious to human health. A manual. New York, NY: Walter de Gruyter; 1981.

5. Little, Jr. E. L. Checklist of United States Trees (Native and Naturalized). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, USDA, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook No. 541; 1979.

6. Mitchell, J. and Rook, A. Botanical dermatology: plants and plant products injurious to the skin. Vancouver, BC: Greenglass Ltd.; 1979.

7. Sudworth, G. B. The cypress and juniper trees of the Rocky Mountain region. Washington, DC: USDA, Bulletin No. 207; 1915.

8. Summitt, R. and Sliker, A. CRC handbook of materials science. Vol. 4. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Inc.; 1980.

9. Woods, B. and Calnan, C. D. Toxic woods. British Journal of Dermatology. 1976; 95(13):1-97.