California Juniper

California Juniper Juniperus californica, Riverside County, California 
Attribution: David McSpadden [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juniperus_californica_Riverside_County_CA.jpg

Latin (group) name: Junierus
Latin (specific) name: Juniperus Californica (Carriere)
Average max height: 15' to 30'
Average diameter: 10" to 24"
Associated state: none
Category: American Woods
The Softwoods - Conifers

The Tree

The California Juniper is a low open, bushy, broad round-topped shrub or tree 15 to 30 feet tall with a short, thick thrunk 10 to 24 inches in diameter and deeply infolded or fluted. It is a shaggy looking tree, generally with greatly distorted heavy branches.The foliage is cedar-like; bristly, scaly, rigid and sharp-pointed, and a pale yellowish-green color. The juniper berries, which likewise mature in the second year, are a light-reddish-brown covered by a bluish-white bloom, larger than those of most of the other junipers. The skin of the berry is loose, exceedingly thin, smooth and papery-like. The berry has a dry, mealy, sweet, somewhat fibrous pulp. This species is found in much lower altitudes than is generally the case with the juniper family.

juniper foliage
California Juniper Foliage
desert juniper
California Juniper growing in the desert

Common Names in Use

  • California Juniper (Calif., lit.)
  • Cedar (Calif.)
  • Juniper (Calif.)
  • Sweet-berried Cedar
  • Sweet-fruited Juniper (Calif.)
  • White Cedar (Calif)

Growth Range

California Juniper is found in California in Tehama, Lake Tulare, and Kern counties in limited areas, generally in the western Mohave and Colorado Deserts, occasionally in cismontane

adjective: cismontane
on this side of the mountains, especially the Alps.

Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and in Lower California. It grows at elevations ranging from 350 to 4,000 feet.

The Wood

The wood of this juniper is difficult to distinguish from its close relative, the Western Juniper. It is very fine-grained, uniform in texture, soft and brittle, splits easily and is a pale yellowish-brown tinged with red. The color is very distinct from that of other junipers, and it has only a slight aromatic odor. It works up beautifully and takes a fine finish of any kind.


This wood is excellent for lead pencils but only small quantities are used for this purpose because of the relatively small portion of the trunk and large limbs that may be utilized. It is included in our list of woods for the home workshop because of its unique coloring, fine texture and excellent workability. Considerable quantities of this wood maybe obtained, and thus it is well recommended for experimentation by the home craftsman.

File References

  ID T Name Size Last modified Actions
388 Juniperus Californica (Carriere)
California Juniper Juniperus californica, Riverside County, California
Attribution: David McSpadden [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juniperus_californica_Riverside_County_CA.jpg
226.36 KB 02-17-2019
390 California Juniper Foliage
California Juniper Foliage
Reference: Juniperus Californica, California Juniper, Southwest Desert Flora. http://southwestdesertflora.com/WebsiteFolders/All_Species/Cupressaceae/Juniperus%20californica,%20California%20Juniper.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2019.
330.61 KB 02-17-2019
391 California Juniper
This juniper is usually found as a large shrub in the Southwest, though it can sometimes grow to be a medium-sized tree in the wild. It features scale-like leaves and reddish-brown cones.
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 17 Feb. 2019.
549.13 KB 02-17-2019
389 California Juniper Range Map
Natural distribution map for Juniperus californica (California juniper)
Attribution: By Elbert L. Little, Jr., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service - USGS Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center: Digital Representations of Tree Species Range Maps from: Elbert L. Little, Jr. (1971), Atlas of United States trees, Vol. 1, conifers and important hardwoods: U.S. Department of Agriculture Miscellaneous Publication 1146, 9 p., 200 maps., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30020509
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juniperus_californica_range_map_3.png
120.15 KB 02-17-2019


  • Shelley E. Schoonover (American Woods) 1951 (Watling & Co. ) Santa Monica, CA 

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Page last modified on Friday November 1, 2019 05:14:03 PDT by admin.