Juniperus Ashei
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Juniperus Ashei

Juniperus ashei
J. ashei shedding pollen: mature male on right, immature tree on left, mature green females in background
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus
J. ashei
Binomial name
Juniperus ashei
J. Buchholz
Juniperus ashei range map 3.png
Natural range of Juniperus ashei

J. sabinoides (H.B.K.) Nees sensu Sargent
J. mexicana Spreng
J. monticola Martinez
Sabina sabinoides (H.B.K.) Small [2]

Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper, Mountain Cedar, Blueberry Juniper, or Post Cedar) is a drought-tolerant evergreen tree, native to northeastern Mexico and the south-central United States north to southern Missouri; the largest areas are in central Texas, where extensive stands occur. It grows up to 10 m (33 ft) tall, and over time can reach 15 m (49 ft), and provides erosion control and year-round shade for wildlife and livestock.

The feathery foliage grows in dense sprays, bright green in color. The leaves are scale-like, 2 to 5 mm (0.079 to 0.197 in) long, and produced on rounded (not flattened) shoots. It is a dioecious species, with separate male and female plants. The seed cones are round, 3 to 5 mm (0.12 to 0.20 in) long, and soft, pulpy and berry-like, green at first, maturing purple about 8 months after pollination. They contain one or two seeds, which are dispersed when birds eat the cones and pass the seeds in their droppings. The male cones are 3-5 mm long, yellow, turning brown after pollen release in December to February.

Scientific name

The specific name ashei pays homage to American forester and botanist William Willard Ashe.[3]


The pollen causes a severe allergic reaction for some people in the winter, and people who are allergic to this juniper are also often allergic to the related Juniperus virginiana. Consequently, what begins as an allergy in the winter may extend into spring, since the pollination of J. virginiana follows that of J. ashei. Ashe juniper is sometimes known in the area as "mountain cedar" (although neither J. virginiana nor it are cedars), and locals usually refer to the allergy as cedar fever.


The wood is naturally rot-resistant and provides raw material for fence posts. Posts cut from old-growth Ashe junipers have been known to last in the ground for more than 50 years. Over 100 years ago, most old-growth Ashe junipers were cut and used not only for fence posts, but also for foundation piers, telegraph and telephone poles, roof framing, and railroad ties.[4][5][6][7]

The berry-like cones are eaten by a number of wildlife.[8][9] The endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler (Setophaga chrysoparia, formerly Dendroica chrysoparia) uses the shredding bark of older Mountain Cedars to build its nests and old-growth cedar brakes and juniper-oak woodlands as habitat.


When Europeans first came to the Hill Country, they sought out the cypress, post oaks, and native cedar (Ashe juniper), since they provided the best building materials. The first Spanish who came in the mid-1700s built Hill Country missions using the Ashe juniper for roof beams. As a result of poor land management, the soil turned to caliche as soil eroded following decades of clearcutting and overgrazing. One of the only plants that could handle the rocky soil was the Ashe juniper. Grasses could not establish on thin rocky soils on the more rolling to flat areas, so the junipers took over there, as well.

These days, Ashe Junipers are now considered a weed by many landowners. They have been taught the trees use more water than live oaks and intercept large amounts of water. Updated, more extensive research evidence disproves the earlier research, reporting that live oaks use more water and that Ashe junipers intercept about 40% of lights. During heavier rains, they intercept almost no rain. [10][11][12][13][14]

Ranchers consider the trees to be pests because overgrazing by cattle selectively removes competition when they avoid the bitter-tasting juniper seedlings. This allows for a high rate of juniper establishment and reduces ranch yields. Ashe juniper does not resprout when cut, but the related redberry juniper does resprout.[15]

Overgrazed lands

The junipers that establish on overgrazed lands are serving as pioneering plants. They are young and vigorous, dense and multitrunked, and shallow-rooted. This directly contrasts the Ashe junipers, which the first settlers found to be large, mostly single-trunk trees with some producing logs that were 2-3 ft in diameter and 40 ft long that were used for telegraph and telephone poles and for building cabins and framing roofs.

Where junipers do grow bushy on thinned, eroded soils, remaining grasses find competing for water difficult, especially if they are still being grazed and the soils are impoverished. The presence of these dense, shallow-rooted shrubs also means less water reaches the soil than areas with sparse, short grasses, subsurface flows, and deep drainage. However, their dense canopies and thick litter do reduce overland flows compared to grazed grasses. Also, much more water is evaporated from the sparse grass areas than originally calculated. Old-growth Ashe junipers are different in that they have true trunks, use less water, are slow growing and less foliated, and have very deep roots. These deeper roots may facilitate the deep drainage of water down trunk stemflows. For every inch of rain, about 6 gallons of previously undocumented water are funneled down the trunks.[16]


  1. ^ Farjon, A. (2013). "Juniperus ashei". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2013: e.T42224A2962793. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-1.RLTS.T42224A2962793.en.
  2. ^ United States Forest Service
  3. ^ Coker, W. C.; Holmes, J. S.; Korstian, C. F. (1932). "WILLIAM WILLARD ASHE". Journal of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society. 48 (1): 40-47. ISSN 0013-6220.
  4. ^ Bray, William L., 1904. Forest Resources of Texas, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Forestry, Bulletin No. 47. Government Printing Office: Washington D.C.
  5. ^ Roemer, Dr. Ferdinand, 1983. Roemer's Texas 1845 to 1847. German-Texas Heritage Society. Eakin Press: Austin.
  6. ^ Brown, Frank, 1875. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin: From the Earliest Time to the Close of 1875, Vol. 6. Austin History Center.
  7. ^ Austin Daily Democratic Statesman, September 10, 1874.
  8. ^ Little, Elbert L. (1980). The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Trees: Eastern Region. New York: Knopf. p. 307. ISBN 0-394-50760-6.
  9. ^ Chavez-Ramirez, Felipe, 1992. The Role of Birds and Mammals in the Dispersal Ecology of Ashe Juniper in the Edwards Plateau. Texas, A&M University Thesis.
  10. ^ Fannin, Blair, 2008. "Research Could Change Perception of Woody Species Use of Water in Edwards Plateau," AgriLife Today online. July 30.
  11. ^ Hauwert, Nico M. and Jack M. Sharp, 2014. "Measuring Autogenic Recharge over a Karst Aquifer Utilizing Eddy Covariance Evapotranspiration," Journal of Water Resource and Protection. Volume 6:869-879.
  12. ^ Gregory, Lucas Frank, 2006. Water Budgets and Cave Recharge on Juniper Rangelands in the Edwards Plateau. Texas A&M University Thesis.
  13. ^ Owens, Keith M., Robert K. Lyons, and Chris L. Alejandro. 2006. "Rainfall Partitioning within Semiarid Juniper Communities: Effects of Event Size and Canopy Cover," Hydrological Processes. Volume 20: 3179-3189.
  14. ^ Schwinning, Susanne, 2008. "The Water Relations of Two Evergreen Tree Species in a Karst Savanna," Oecologia. Volume 158: 373-383.
  15. ^ McGinty, Allan (18 March 1997). "JUNIPER ECOLOGY". unidentified. Archived from the original on 16 April 2009. Retrieved .
  16. ^ Owens, M.K., R.K. Lyons and C.J. Alejandro. 2006. Rainfall partitioning within semiarid juniper communities: Effects of event size and canopy cover. Hydrological Processes 20:3179-3189.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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