Alligator Juniper is a tree which attains a height of only 80 to 45 feet, but has a short, thick trunk from two to four feet in diameter. Unlike the other junipers this species has a thick, deeply ﬁssured, dark red-brown bark from one to four inches thick, Checkered into scaly squares resembling alligator hide, which fact doubtless gave rise to its common name. The branches are thick and stubby, and the shape of the tree is generally distorted and uncanny in appearance. It resists drought and finds root in seemingly impossible places among the rocks and canyon walls. The short, compact, scale-like leaves are blue-green. When crushed the foliage emits a pungently aromatic odor. The berrylike, pulpy fruit is dark red-brown covered with a whitish bloom. The Indians of the Southwest grind the dry berries into a meal which they use to prepare a cake which is baked in the sun.
- Alligator Juniper (Ariz)
- Checkered-barked Juniper (lit)
- Juniper (Ariz., N. Mex.)
- Mountain Cedar (Tex.)
- Oak-barked Cedar (Ariz.)
- Oakbark Juniper (Ariz.)
- Thick-barked Juniper (Calif., lit.)
This juniper is found in southwestern Texas, along the desert ranges in southern New Mexico and southern Arizona, and also southward into Mexico. The tree grows in dry, arid mountain slopes in the higher elevations of 4,000 to 9,000 feet.
The heartwood of the Alligator Juniper is light, soft, brittle, close-grained, has a clear, light-yellowish-tan-brown color often streaked with light-red, or a brownish-yellow. The narrow sapwood is nearly white. The wood is aromatic with an odor resembling that of alligator leather, strong and pungent, as compared with the pleasant odor of the other junipers. The grain of the trunk is usually straight and may be easily worked with all kinds of tools. This wood ﬁnishes beautifully. It lacks any outstanding ﬁgure.
The texture of the wood is such that it could well be used for pencils, but the trunks are usually too short for pencil bolts, and the tree is insufficient in abundance for general commercial use, except for fence posts. In the home workshop in vicinities where it is available, Alligator Juniper should ﬁnd a welcome place with the other Junipers for making furniture and beautiful novelties.
|424||Alligator Juniper Tree Bark
The alligator juniper is named for its distinctive bark that resembles the rough, checkered skin of an alligator. This species can either be a shrub or tree depending on the growing location and conditions.
Reference: “Consider a Juniper Tree or Shrub If You Like Evergreen Conifers.” The Spruce, https://www.thespruce.com/twelve-species-juniper-trees-and-shrubs-3269665. Accessed 11 Aug. 2019.
Attribution: Susan Dussaman/Flickr/CC By 2.0
|425||Juniperus Pachyphloea (Torrey)
Alligator Juniper in New Mexico
Reference: “Alligator Junipers–My New Favorite Tree in New Mexico.” Where in the World Are Barry and Renee?, 12 Nov. 2011, https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/alligator-junipers-my-new-favorite-tree-in-new-mexico/.
|426||Alligator Juniper Range Map
Natural distribution map for Juniperus deppeana (alligator juniper)
Reference: "File:Juniperus deppeana range map 1.png." Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 26 Nov 2016, 04:04 UTC. 11 Aug 2019, 01:56 .
Attribution: Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service [Public domain]
|427||242. Juniperus Pachyphloea Torr.
Plate No. 242 Juniperus Pachyphloea (Torrey) cross section plate.
Reference: An Index to “The American Woods” by Romeyn B. Hough. https://www.lib.ncsu.edu/specialcollections/forestry/hough/toc.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.