Plant: shrub or tree; single-trunked, 7-15(-30) m tall; dioecious. STEMS: bark ashy gray outside, dark brown to black inside, 1-20 cm thick, deeply fissured into rectangular plates Leaves: usually decussate, closely appressed, scale-like, gland obvious Cones: POLLEN CONES terminal, 3-4 mm long, oblong. SEED CONES terminal, 8-20 mm long, sub-spheric to broad-ellipsoid, green, maturing bluish to usually red-tan to red-brown in second year, glaucous, dry, hard, fibrous to obscurely woody Fruit: SEEDS (1)4-5(-7) per cone, 6-9 mm long, ovoid or oblong or irregular, often angled, brown REFERENCES: Bartel, Jim A. 1994. Cupressaceae. J. Ariz. - Nev. Acad. Sci. Volume 27, 195-200.
Click link above to go directly to the Flora of North America Treatment. Varieties 5 (1 in the flora): North America, Mexico.
Bartel 1993, FNA 1993
Common Name: alligator juniper Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Tree General: Tree and sometimes shrub, usually single trunked, 7-15 m tall, usually dioecious; bark ashy gray outside, dark brown to black inside, 1-20 cm thick, deeply fissured into smaller rectangular plates. Needles: Usually decussate, closely appressed, scale-like and with an obvious gland, blue-green. Cones: Pollen cones terminal, 3-4 mm long, oblong; seed cones terminal, 8-20 mm long, subspheric to broad-ellipsoid, green, maturing bluish to reddish tan to red-brown in second year, glaucous, dry, hard, fibrous to rarely woody. Seeds: Ovoid or oblong to irregular, often angled, brown, 4-5 per cone, 6-9 mm long. Ecology: Found on dry, rocky slopes from 4,500-10,000 ft (1372-3048 m); flowers February-March. Notes: Distinctive with its alligator bark. Can be confused with Cupressus arizonica when young, when the bark can be reddish and peel like the latter. Pay attention to the cones and you will have no trouble distinguishing. Ethnobotany: The berries were boiled, eaten fresh, ground into a meal, drunk as a beverage, made into cakes, and used as both a fuel wood and as lumber. Etymology: Juniperus is the Latin name for Juniper, while deppeana is (probably) named for Ferdinand Deppe (1794-1860) a German botanical collector. Synonyms: Juniperus deppeana var. pachyphlaea, J. deppeana subsp. sperryi, J. deppeana var. sperryi, J. mexicana, J. pachyderma Editor: SBuckley, 2010