Canary Islands juniper
Canary Islands juniper (Eng); cedro canario (Spa).
DID YOU KNOW...? Only a single natural population of this juniper survives on Gran Canaria. It can be found in the most inaccessible crags of Montaña del Cedro in the Guguy massif.
Slow-growing, medium-sized evergreen tree that can be 15 m tall. It has a thick trunk (sometimes up to 1 m in diameter) and a globose crown that may become flag-shaped because of the wind. The young twigs are fine and pendulous, giving this tree a 'weeping' appearance. The bark is greyish brown or reddish, cracked, and peels off in longitudinal strips. The entire plant contains essential oils and is aromatic. The leaves are acicular (needle-like), less than 2 cm in length and 2 mm in width, hard, with a sharp tip. They are dark green in colour and have two white bands on the upper side. They are arranged in threes, like a three-pointed star or the blades of a fan. In general, there are separate male and female plants (it is a dioecious species). The males form very small cones that produce pollen and the females have false fruits known as galbuli. These are somewhat fleshy and almost spherical, around 1.5 cm in diameter, and are covered in a dusty- or waxy-looking layer (bloom). They are bluish green at first, becoming reddish chestnut in colour when they ripen, in the second year. Each fruit contains up to 3 seeds.
This is a very resistant plant, able to withstand climate and conditions not tolerated by other species, as well as a wide range of temperatures and environmental aridity. It requires a sunny spot and usually it lives in high mountain zones, between altitudes of 1400 and 2200 m, on inaccessible crags. Nevertheless, in the past it occupied lower zones and formed a belt between the pine groves and the high mountain scrub. Currently, there are populations that include thermophilous species, in Montaña de Cedro, on Gran Canaria, or plants of the laurel forests, on La Gomera.
Juniperus cedrus is endemic to the Canary Islands and Madeira. The subspecies cedrus is exclusively found in the Canaries, on the islands of La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife and Gran Canaria.