Juniperus horizontalis Moench

creeping juniper

Copyright: various copyright holders. To reuse an image, please click it to see who you will need to contact.

New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

Found this plant? Take a photo and post a sighting.

North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

enlarge

Facts About

Creeping juniper is a mat-forming, trailing shrub native to the northern regions of North America. It often spreads by layering, a process by which a branch forms new roots and separates from the mother plant. Plants typically colonize open, cold, sandy or rocky barrens or headlands. Various cultivars of creeping juniper are planted in dry, sunny situations in gardens. The blue-green foliage has a tangy-sweet scent. Many birds eat the berries. Certain species of ants build their nests in the shelter of its matted branches.

Habitat

Cliffs, balds, or ledges, meadows and fields

Characteristics

Habitat
terrestrial
New England state
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Growth form
the plant is a shrub (with multiple stems, or prostrate, growing close to the ground)
Leaf form
the leaves are scale-like
Leaf cross-section
the needle-like leaves are flattened (can't be rolled between the fingers)
Leaf arrangement
there are two needle-like leaves per node
Seed cone form
the seed cone is formed from a berry-like cone with leathery scales
Leaf clustering
the needle-like leaves are single, with two per node
Seed cone shape
  • the seed cone is ellipsoid (oval, tapering to rounded ends)
  • the seed cone is ovoid (egg-shaped)
Leaves overlapping
the needle-like leaves are tightly overlapping so that they hide the twig surface
Show All Characteristics
  • Fruits or seeds
    Seed cone base
    NA
    Seed cone bracts
    NA
    Seed cone form
    the seed cone is formed from a berry-like cone with leathery scales
    Seed cone scales
    NA
    Seed cone shape
    • the seed cone is ellipsoid (oval, tapering to rounded ends)
    • the seed cone is ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Seed cone symmetry
    the seed cone is symmetrical
    Seed cone umbo position
    NA
    Seed cone umbo spine
    NA
    Seed wings
    there are no wings on the seeds
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is a shrub (with multiple stems, or prostrate, growing close to the ground)
  • Leaves
    Leaf arrangement
    there are two needle-like leaves per node
    Leaf base
    NA
    Leaf clustering
    the needle-like leaves are single, with two per node
    Leaf cross-section
    the needle-like leaves are flattened (can't be rolled between the fingers)
    Leaf duration
    the needle-like leaves remain green all winter
    Leaf form
    the leaves are scale-like
    Leaf glands
    the needle-like leaves have glands on the underside
    Leaf stalks
    the needle-like leaves do not have a leaf stalk
    Leaf types
    there are two distinct types of needle-like leaves on the twig
    Leaves overlapping
    the needle-like leaves are tightly overlapping so that they hide the twig surface
  • Place
    Habitat
    terrestrial
    New England state
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • cliffs, balds, or ledges
    • meadows or fields
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Bark resin blisters
    there are no resin blisters on the bark
    Leaves on shoots
    the needle-like leaves do not grow in tight clusters on a short, knob-like shoot
    Twig bloom
    there is no bloom on the twig
    Twig hair type
    the twigs have few or no hairs on them
    Twig hairs
    the twig does not have hairs

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but occasionally in wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACU)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
not applicable (S-rank: SNA)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), threatened (code: T)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Juniperus virginiana:
upright shrubs or small trees with seed cones borne on straight stalks and containing mostly 1 or 2 seeds (vs. J. horizontalis, which are depressed or trailing shrubs with seed cones borne on curved stalks and containing mostly 3-5 seeds).

Synonyms

  • Juniperus prostrata Pers.
  • Juniperus repens Nutt.
  • Juniperus virginiana var. prostrata (Pers.) Torr.
  • Sabina horizontalis (Moench) Rydb.

Family

Cupressaceae

Genus

Juniperus

Need Help?

Get Help

Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Juniperus horizontalis Moench N

creeping juniper. Juniperus prostrata Pers.; J. repens Nutt.; J. virginiana L. var. prostrata (Pers.) Torr.; Sabina horizontalis (Moench) Rydb. • MA, ME, NH, VT. Sandy or rocky fields, coastal headlands and cliffs, mainly along the coastal plain, rare inland. George (1997) reported this species from Jamestown, RI, based on a collection by Richard Champlin. The only specimen identified as such by Champlin seen by me was collected in Newport, but it was Juniperus virginiana—19 Jun 1983, Champlin s.n. (Champlin Herb.).

2×3. Juniperus horizontalis × Juniperus virginiana This rare hybrid juniper is known from ME, NH. It shows intermediacy in discriminating characters, such as habit, seed cone size, peduncle morphology, and number of seeds (see identification key).