Juniperus chinensis

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Juniperus chinensis
Chinese Juniper shoot, showing juvenile (needle-like) leaves, adult scale leaves, and young male cones
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus
Species: J. chinensis
Binomial name
Juniperus chinensis
L.

Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper, 圆柏, 桧) is a juniper that grows as a shrub or tree with a very variable shape, reaching 1-20 m tall. This native of northeast Asia grows in China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea and the southeast of Russia.

Growth[edit]

It is a coniferous evergreen shrub. The leaves grow in two forms, juvenile needle-like leaves 5-10 mm long, and adult scale-leaves 1.5-3 mm long. Mature trees usually continue to bear some juvenile foliage as well as adult, particularly on shaded shoots low in the crown. This largely species often has dioecious either male and female plants, but some individual plants produce both sexes of flowers. The blue-black berry-like cones grow to 7-12 mm in diameter, have a whitish waxy bloom, and contain 2-4 seeds; they mature in about 18 months. The male cones, 2-4 mm long, shed their pollen in early spring.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

This popular ornamental tree or shrub in gardens and parks has more than 100 named cultivars selected for various characters, such as yellow foliage (e.g. cvs. 'Aurea', 'Tremonia'), permanently juvenile foliage (e.g. cv. 'Shoosmith'), columnar crown shape (cv. 'Columnaris'), abundant cones (e.g. cv. 'Kaizuka'), etc. Chinese Juniper, as a non-native species in the U.S., should not be used there in natural plantings. The cultivar 'Shimpaku' is a very important bonsai subject. The Chinese juniper is widely used in bonsai, both as individual plants, such as the 250-year-old "Omiya tree" in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in the UK, and in groups, such as the well-known Goshin on display at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum.

The following cultivars have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:-

  • 'Aurea' (Golden Chinese juniper)[1]
  • 'Blaauw'[2]
  • 'Grey Owl'[3]
  • 'Kaizuka'[4]
  • 'Plumosa Aurea'[5]
  • 'Pyramidalis'[6]

The hybrid between Juniperus chinensis and Juniperus sabina, known as Juniperus × pfitzeriana (Pfitzer Juniper, synonym J. × media), is also very common as a cultivated plant. This hybrid grows only as a shrub, never a tree, making it suitable for smaller gardens:-

  • J. × pfitzeriana 'Old Gold'[7]
  • J. × pfitzeriana 'Sulphur Spray'[8]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]