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Syracuse, New York
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Special Topics

Evergreen Identification

Junipers (Juniperus)

Sargent juniper is an outstanding choice for covering large amounts of ground on steep, sunny slopes.Adaptability, diversity and affordability make junipers (Juniperus) the most widely planted of all evergreen shrubs.

Whether you're looking for a carpet-like evergreen groundcover such as `Sargent' (at right), a rigid evergreen column ('Skyrocket') or a gaudy, traffic-stopping green and gold variegated evergreen ('Gold Coast'), there's a juniper for practically every landscape situation. In fact, it's common for even relatively small garden centers to carry a dozen or more different varieties of junipers!

The only limitations to their use in landscape settings are that they don’t thrive in the shade and won’t survive in wet soils. In fact, the hotter, drier and sunnier it is, the better junipers grow!

The awl-shaped juvenile needles of junipers are less than one-third of an inch long, very pointed and therefore very sharp!As for their identification, junipers are about the only evergreen that are especially hard to handle without gloves. This is because the juvenile leaves (i.e., needles) are less than 1/3 of an inch long, “awl”-shaped - and very sharp (note: at left each ruler hash mark is 1/16 inch).

Therefore, to identify the junipers in your landscape simply grab a handful of foliage and squeeze. If it hurts, it’s likely a juniper!