Juniperus deppeana / Alligator juniper

It gets its name from the resemblance the checked bark has to the hide of an alligator. The foliage on young plants is a ghostly silver-Blue. The foliage of mature plants changes and can range from green to Blue-silver in color. A medium size tree developing large trunks with time. Native to western Texas.

Juniperus deppeana (Alligator Juniper or Checkerbark juniper; Native American names include táscate and tláscal) is a small to medium-sized tree reaching 10–15 m (rarely to 25 m) tall. It is native to central and northern Mexico (from Oaxaca northward) and the southwestern United States (Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas). It grows at moderate altitudes of 750–2,700 meters (2,460–8,860 ft) on dry soils.

The bark is usually very distinctive, unlike other junipers, hard, dark gray-brown, cracked into small square plates superficially resembling Alligator skin; it is however sometimes like other junipers, with stringy vertical fissuring. The shoots are 1-1.5 mm diameter; the leaves are arranged in opposite decussate pairs or whorls of three; the adult leaves are scale-like, 1-2.5 mm long (to 5 mm on lead shoots) and 1-1.5 mm broad. The juvenile leaves (on young seedlings only) are needle-like, 5–10 mm long. The cones are berry-like, 7–15 mm in diameter, green maturing orange-brown with a whitish waxy bloom, and contain 2-6 seeds; they are mature in about 18 months. The male cones are 4–6 mm long, and shed their pollen in spring. It is largely dioecious, producing cones of only one sex on each tree, but occasional trees are monoecious.

Alligator juniper, Miller Cyn, Huachucha Mtns, AZ.
Alligator juniper, Miller Cyn, Huachucha Mtns, AZ.

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