Juniperus phoenicea - Phoenician Juniper

  • Posted on: 22 June 2017

On continental Europe, this juniper reaches the westernmost stretches of the Mediterranean coast, in Portugal growing under the mild and rather wet atlanto-mediterranean climatic conditions while in the east of its range occurring in the dry coasts of Sinai and western Arabia. This juniper is an easily recognized and common species of the Mediterranean maquis vegetation, often stunted and procumbent or prostrate as seen in the windy coasts; elsewhere it may grow into a well formed tree reaching 8-10 m and a trunk diameter of up to 1 m under good conditions. – On a recent trip to southwestern Portugal (the region of Porto Sta Maria), we studied and documented the low-growing stands of this juniper (shown in photographs below); none were higher than 1.5 m but usually much lower and often 4-5 m wide. Also we found that practically all specimens were monoecious (though the species may be dioecious as well). We were also searching for the prostrate form we previously (1995) documented also in southwestern Portugal, near Praja Grande, and published in 1999; those plants had creeping lateral branches with adventitious roots (refer to Conifers Around the World, page 190 top detail photo). Here around Porto Sta Maria we did not find this form even though there were many plants resembling to it. When digging in the sand it turned out that these low forms often have lateral branches somewhat similar to those of the prostrate form but in fact they are side branches buried by sand that have not developed adventitious roots.