Juniperus pingii / Ping's juniper

Juniperus pingii (Ping's juniper) as described in 1944 by Wan Chun Cheng, ex Yvette de Ferré in Bulletin de la Société d' Histoire Naturelle de Toulouse, vol. 79 is commonly known as Ping's juniper; as well as C会指向白 (C huì zhǐxiàng bái) in the Chinese language.

According to Aljos Farjon (2005), three varieties of this species are known to exist:

  • Juniperus pingii var. chengii (L.K. Fu et Y.F. Fu) Farjon 2005
  • Juniperus pingii var. pingii
  • Juniperus pingii var. wilsonii (Rehder) Silba 1984

Description. Ping's juniper is a monoecious, procumbent to erect shrubby evergreen, coniferous species of tree that grows to mature heights of 12 to 30 feet (4 - 9 m) tall with a trunk up to 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. One must note that individual specimens can vary greatly in structure.

  • Branching is spreading or angled upward and often seen with drooping tips.
  • Bark is is brown in color, weathering to grayish brown, with thin consistency, and peeling in flakes or narrow strips.
  • The waxy and glaucous-green adult leaves tiny, lanceolate or scale-like, densely packed and forward facing.
  • Pollen cones grow singly at the tops of short branchlets in the leaf axils. They measure 0.12 to 0.16 inch (3 - 4 mm) long with 2 or 3 alternating trios of pollen scales.
  • Seed cones are single-seeded, and globose, individually measure 0.5 inch (1.25 cm) wide, ripening to black or bluish-black after two years.

It should be noted that Juniperus pingii has been subject to much discussion regarding name changes and its relationship with its close relatives, Juniperus recurva and Juniperus squamata. Many cultivars long associated with Juniperus squamata are now assigned to pingii.

Distribution. This species is found growing at an elevations of 7,800 to 14,000 feet (2,500 - 4,400 m) above sea level in the mountains of central and southwestern China. Ping's juniper is typically found in subalpine forests and in scrubby alpine areas.

Hardy to USDA Zone 6 — cold hardiness limit between -10° and 0°F (-23.2° and -17.8°C).

A mature specimen of Juniperus pingii at the ACS Reference Garden at Oregon Garden, Silverton, OR.
Photo by David Olszyk
A close up of the same tree at Oregon Garden showing needle and branch detail.
Photo by David Olszyk

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