Juniperus deppeana – Alligator Juniper

Juniperus deppeana - Alligator Juniper (juniper berries)

Juniperus deppeana - Alligator Juniper (bark)

Juniperus deppeana - Alligator Juniper

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Juniperus deppeana

Synonyms: Juniperus mexicana, J. pachyderma

Common Name: Alligator Juniper

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial, Evergreen

Growth Habit: Tree, Shrub

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Upland, Mountain

Flower Color: Non-flowering (produces only pollen cones or seed cones)

Height: To 50 feet (15 m) tall

Description: These plants are dioecious. The seed cones are 1/2 inch (1.3 cm) in diameter, light glaucous green, purplish green, or reddish brown in color, and covered in a waxy, white bloom. The leaves are dark blue-green, tiny, and scale-like. The distinctive bark is gray-brown and patterned and furrowed like an alligator's back.

The similar Redberry Juniper (Juniperus coahuilensis) has bright red-brown cones, while Oneseed Juniper (Juniperus monosperma) has shredding bark. The other Arizona Juniperus species are found in the more northern parts of the state.

Special Characteristics

Allergenic – The pollen is a moderate allergen.

Edible – The cones (juniper berries) are edible, but they are strongly juniper-flavored. The cones are also eaten by wildlife.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Coniferophyta – Conifers
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae – Cypress family
Genus: Juniperus L. – juniper
Species: Juniperus deppeana Steud. – alligator juniper

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map