Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Juniperus californica


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Cope, Amy B. 1992. Juniperus californica. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : JUNCAL SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : JUCA7 COMMON NAMES : California juniper desert white cedar TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of California juniper is Juniperus californica Carr. [25,35]. There are no recognized varieties or subspecies. LIFE FORM : Tree, Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : California juniper is distributed from Shasta County, California, south as far as Baja California Norte [6,21]. California juniper occurs through the inner Coast Ranges and in interior cismontane southern California to the western slope of the southern Sierra Nevada. It occurs on desert slopes from the western edge of the Colorado Desert and Joshua Tree National Monument to Kern County, California [25]. California juniper also occurs in isolated parts of Nevada and Arizona, near their border with California [7]. It is cultivated in Hawaii [41]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES21 Ponderosa pine FRES23 Fir - spruce FRES29 Sagebrush FRES30 Desert shrub FRES34 Chaparral - mountain shrub FRES35 Pinyon - juniper STATES : AZ CA HI NV MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : 3 Southern Pacific Border 4 Sierra Mountains 7 Lower Basin and Range KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K018 Pine - Douglas-fir forest K019 Arizona pine forest K021 Southwestern spruce - fir forest K023 Juniper - pinyon woodland K024 Juniper steppe woodland K030 California oakwoods K031 Oak - juniper woodlands K032 Transition between K031 and K037 K033 Chaparral K034 Montane chaparral K035 Coastal sagebrush K037 Mountain-mahogany - oak scrub K038 Great Basin sagebrush K041 Creosotebush K055 Sagebrush steppe SAF COVER TYPES : 211 White fir 239 Pinyon - juniper 244 Pacific ponderosa pine - Douglas-fir 247 Jeffrey pine 248 Knobcone pine 249 Canyon live oak 250 Blue oak - Digger pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : California juniper is codominant primarily with singleleaf pinyon (Pinus monophylla) in the pinyon-juniper type. This type occupies lower elevations than the Utah juniper (Juniperus osteosperma) type [15,38]. California juniper is an understory associate in the blue oak (Quercus douglasii)-narrowleaf goldenweed (Haplopappus linearfolius) community found in the central and southern coastal foothills [1,13]. It also occurs frequently as a scattered tree in grasslands, in interior live oak woodlands (Quercus wislizenii), and microsites in chaparral [6]. On the desert side of mountain ranges, it is associated with desert chaparral [18]. California juniper is an indicator of Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia) woodland [29] and occurs in widely dispersed small groves in southern California [38]. California juniper is listed as a codominant or dominant species in the following classifications: Desert scrub communities in the Sonoran Desert of California and Arizona [8]. General vegetation communities of southern California [17]. General vegetation plant associations of southern California [28]. Desert vegetation community types of the Mojave Desert of southern California [37]. Pinyon-juniper community types of San Bernadino Mountains of California [40].


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : California junipers are rarely used for sawn products because they are small and have poor growth form [24]. California juniper has a low tree volume and is too poorly formed to have measurable volume in main-stem sections [6]. Juniper fenceposts are well known in rangelands, where it is said that "a juniper post will outlast two post holes" [6]. Besides a source of fenceposts, California juniper is also a source of fuelwood and Christmas trees. As technology improves and demand increases, California juniper may become more important [24]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : California juniper in pinyon-juniper woodlands provide food and shelter for deer, elk, pronghorn, wild horses, Merriam's turkeys, and other animals. The berry crops that are produced annually are consumed by birds and mammals [2]. As California juniper matures, its foliage becomes too high for deer to reach, thus providing little winter forage [4,9]. On winter range, California juniper serves as emergency food for sheep and goats and as staple browse for deer [31]. On Christmas Tree Pass, Nevada, areas of dense California juniper supported birds such as Scott's oriole (Iclerus parisorum), Lesser goldfinch (Carduelis psaltria), bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus), mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), ladder-backed woodpecker (Picoides scalaris), ruby-crowned kinglet (Regulus calendula), and ash-throated flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) [5]. PALATABILITY : Palatability of California juniper is fair to poor for deer and goats, poor to useless for sheep, and useless for cattle and horses [31]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : NO ENTRY COVER VALUE : California juniper provides fair to poor cover for deer and other similar-sized mammals when vegetation is sparse; the cover value improves as vegetation becomes more dense [24]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Native Americans used California juniper wood for sinew-backed bows. They also ground up the berries (ie. fleshy cones) and molded them into cakes, which were said to taste sweet [33]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Silvicultural information pertaining to pinyon-juniper is sparse. Silvicultural situations and methods depend on management and stand characteristics. California juniper is not suitable for seed-tree regeneration [12]. Rotations for wood production are long because of slow growth rates. These vary from 100 years at best sites to 300 years at poor sites. For Christmas trees, the rotation is 20 to 50 years [24]. Harvests of California juniper should remove merchantable trees with poor growth form that are infested with mistletoe, or those not expected to survive until the next harvest. Slash burning after a harvest should reduce fire hazard to acceptable conditions. Christmas tree cutting should be exclusive to younger stands [24]. Thinning pinyon-juniper woodlands is usually not cost effective unless Christmas trees or some other product can be removed [32]. California juniper can be important for watershed management [19]. Juniper mistletoe (Phoradendron juniperinum ssp. juniperinum) is specific to juniper species and is the most important pathogen in pinyon-juniper woodlands [24]. In lower parts of the Sierra San Pedro Marti, California, juniper is susceptible to another mistletoe, Phoradendron bolleanum ssp. densum [16]. For trees infected with dwarf mistletoe (Arceuthobium spp.), the shelterwood method (even-aged management) can be effectively used for treatment in stands if seedlings are not infected. In severely infected stands, clearcutting is often the only effective method for treatment and preventing its spread. Prescribed fires when used with clearcutting to increase forage yield kill infected seedlings and reduce logging slash [32].


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : California juniper is a native conifer that is adapted to xeric sites [35,36]. As a seedling under 12 inches (30cm) in height, it is shade dependent [24]. Its growth is crooked, forked, and multistemmed [6]. Its branches are stiff with irregular stems [25]. Its scalelike leaves are denticulate at the margins, glandular, pitted on the back, and bluntly pointed [22,25]. The leaves occur in whorls of two. At maturity, California juniper reaches 3 to 15 feet (1-4.5 m), occassionally reaching 40 feet (12 m) in height [19,25,31]. Each fruit contains one to two seeds, and the ripe berries are reddish brown [19,25]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : California juniper seeds are dispersed by birds and mammals, which eat the berries and then excrete viable, scarified seeds [24]. Minimum seed-bearing age is not reported [19]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : California juniper most commonly occurs in pinyon-juniper woodlands that border and integrate with chaparral along desert margins [14,24]. This woodland type also occurs with montane forest elements, with Joshua tree woodland, and with coastal sage scrub [14,15]. California juniper is a dominant species in desert chaparral [14]. California juniper occurs in a climate that has mild, moist, sunny winters and hot, dry summers. Most precipitation falls between December and April, with annual precipitation ranging from less than 12 to more than 40 inches (300-1,000 mm) at higher elevations [14,26]. Winter temperatures range from 25 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 - 18 deg C), and summer temperatures range from 55 to more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (12-38 deg C). The growing season of California juniper is 340 to 360 days [14]. Soils of chaparral are porous, rocky, coarse, and sandy or silty. These soils are low in clay and in nutrients in comparison to agricultural soils. These soils are also very shallow [14]. California juniper also occurs on alluvial fans and steep slopes [14,15,38]. The altitude at which California juniper occurs varies as follows [5,15,26]: Location Feet Meters Christmas Tree Pass, NV 3,220-4,020 975-1,218 Sonoran Desert, CA 3,500-10,000 1,060-3,030 San Beradino and San Gabriel Mountains, CA 3,000-9,000 900-2,700 California juniper is most commonly associated with singleleaf pinyon. Associates other than those previously mentioned vary between habitats. Montane conifer forest associates are mentioned in the Distribution and Occurrence frame. Pinyon-juniper woodland associates are mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.), bitterbrush (Purshia spp.), snakeweed (Gutierrizia brecteata), narrowleaf goldenweed, and California buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) [15,38]. Desert edge and chaparral associates include oaks (Quercus spp.), blackbrush (Coleogyne ramosissima), creosotebush (Larrea divaricata), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), birchleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus spp.), desert bitterbrush (Purshia glandulosa), Dorrs sage (Salvia dorii), and cliffrose (Cowania spp.) [15,26,31,38]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Obligate Climax Species Mature California juniper is not shade tolerant. Seedlings, however, appear to be shade dependent, possibly because these seedlings will replace the juniper they grow up under [24]. In the absence of disturbance (fire or other), junipers tend to replace themselves as mature stands gradually die out [31]. Severe fires result in elimination of nonsprouting junipers, such as California juniper, and favor fire-adapted species of desert chaparral [15,18]. On rocky breaks where it is protected from fire, California juniper is a climax species, but in grasslands frequently disturbed by fire, California juniper is not a climax species [39]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Despite a growing season that is between 340 and 360 days, height growth of dominant juniper trees is only 2 to 4 inches (5-10 cm) per year and diameter growth only 0.04 to 0.2 inch (1-5 mm) per year [24]. Water is the growth-limiting factor; tree age is not a major influence on the growth rate [24]. California juniper flowers in the spring [19,25], and seeds germinate in early spring [22].


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : California juniper is a nonsprouting, fire-sensitive species [15]. It may depend on protected areas to survive fires. Unburned "islands" of California juniper were observed on a lightly burned slope [34]. Frequency of fire in grasslands prevents California juniper from becoming a dominant species in those areas. Several years are required for nonsprouting species to set seed [39]. In the pinyon-juniper type, fires are infrequent due to sparse understory growth [15]. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Secondary colonizer - on-site seed Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : California juniper is usually killed by fire [15,39]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : After fire, other chaparral species may become dominant [15]. No California juniper seedlings were found in burned areas in the first and second postfire years [34]. Years are required for nonsprouting conifers to establish after a fire [32]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Due to effective fire control practices during the last 50 years, stands of California juniper have extended their range to areas that formerly supported grasses only [32]. Pinyon-juniper woodland can be converted to chaparral by severe burning because fire eliminates nonsprouting dominant woodland species [15]. Fires often result in conversion of pinyon-juniper woodland to open chaparral or sagebrush [18]. A burning frequency of 15 years or less is considered desirable for maintenance of nonsprouting shrubs [32].


SPECIES: Juniperus californica
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