Juniperus communis var. saxatilis / variety of common juniper

Juniperus communis var. saxatilis, was described in 1788 by Peter Simon von Pallas (1741–1811), in Flora Rossica, vol. 1. Although there doesn't appear to be a well-known common name, the varietal name, "saxatilis" translates into "living among the rocks" in the Latin language.

Description. This variety of common juniper is an evergreen, coniferous species of shrub that grows spreading to mat-like, to mature dimensions of 20 to 40 inches (0.5 - 1 m) wide.

  • Leaves grow upturned or upcurled, to 0.6 inch (15 mm) long and 0.08 inch (2 mm) wide, with linear-lanceolate shape, sometimes almost overlapping. Individual needles are glaucous, with a stomatal band on each adaxial leaf surface, measuring 2 or more times width of each green marginal band. Apicies are acute to obtuse and mucronate.
  • Seed cones measure 0.24 to 0.36 inch (6 - 9 mm) long and are shorter than leaves.

Distribution. This variety is native to Europe — The Caucasus and Siberia; as well as central Asia, western Asia — Jammu-Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, and Pakistan; in northeastern and northwestern China; Japan, Korea, the Russian far east, western North America, and Greenland; found growing at elevations of sea level to 13,000 feet (0 - 4,050 m) above sea level in montane to alpine habitats.

Hardy to USDA Zone 3 — cold hardiness limit between -40° and -30°F (-39.9° and -34.4°C).

Attribution from: Aljos Farjon; A monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys; ©2005, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Juniperus communis var. saxatilis in its habitat on a 40° slope - at Chitkul (3450m), India.
Photo by Guarav Verma
Juniperus communis var. saxatilis — a 1935 accession at the New York Botanical Garden, The Bronx, NY (USDA Hardiness Zone 7a). photo from 2020.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss
Juniperus communis var. saxatilis — a closeup of foliage detail.
Photo by Katherine Wagner-Reiss