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Friday, December 30, 2011

Juniperus chinensis torulosa - Holly Juniper

The Hollywood juniper has been planted in California landscapes forever. They seem to be planted everywhere, perhaps not as a focal point but as a filler with an interesting habit. Junipers in general get a bad rap mostly because they are over-planted, especially the "dwarf" ground cover types. The Safeway juniper (J. chinensis 'Pfertziana') is planted in all the wrong spots and is as far as I am concerned the cause of the bad name. There are some really nice juniper trees that need to be grown and planted, and I will try to cover some later.

Juniperus chinensis torulosa  (also known as J. chinensis 'Torulosa' or Kaizuka')  is a fast growing evergreen conifer,  to 15 -20' by 10' wide with spreading branches. The branches are narrow, spreading and spinning loosely around the main stem. They seem to be variable and don't all seem like clones as some suggest, and there seems to be several forms in commerce. The twisting may be to one side or all around the tree, and not always clockwise. The form is often referred to as "picturesque" or "Japanese like". I like picturesque. 

The twisting is not just the main laterals wrapping around the main stem but the whole branch twists. Notice the tufts of foliage on the branches.

The leaves are mostly scale-like, evergreen, tiny, maybe a 1/16" long, bright green. They are held tightly to the stems.  Foliage is very fragrant. They may have some juvenile foliage which is awl-shaped but not much on this tree.

The foliage is often in tufts near the ends of the branches.

Juniper fruit are fleshy at maturity and because of this are often call berries, but as you know conifers do not have berries, they have cones. The cones are about 1/4" diameter, ripening bluish black.

"Flowers" are small, hardly noticeable.

Bark is peeling, stringy and attractive like many others in the family.

Misidentification: hopefully you can get to Juniper, from there you are on your own.  No really, look at the form of the tree, many junipers are more symmetrical and not twisting. If you are not at juniper, look at the cones, Cupressus have large cones and are woody when mature, Chamaecyparis have cones about 1/2" and are also woody. If you are somewhere else in CA. and in the mountains you may run into natives but I have not seen any here.

Locations: Nice row at the intersection of 41st and Soquel. Otherwise, very common.
Santa Cruz
154 S. Morrissey Blvd