Navajo Name: Gad biką'ígíí, “male juniper”,
Gad ni’eełii, “drooping juniper”
|Cupressaceae||Juniperus sp.||Juniperus L.|
Classification: 27 species in Juniperus
- Common Juniper, Juniperus communis,
- Utah Juniper, Juniperus osteosperma (Torr.) Little
- Rocky Mountain Juniper, Juniperus scopulorum
- Oneseed Juniper, Juniperus monosperma
According to the species account from USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System (FEIS), Utah juniper is a short tree that may live as long as 650 years (Loehle 1988). Utah junipers grow less than 26.4 feet (8 m) and are often as short as 9.9 to 14.85 feet (3-4.5 m), with a trunk 4 to 7.5 inches (10-30 cm) thick (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973; Hickman 1993; Kearney et al. 1960; Ronco 1997). Sometimes the tree has multiple stems (Arnold 1964).
Utah juniper trees will grow in very stunted forms under severe site conditions. A 6-inch tree with a 24-inch (60 cm) taproot may be over 50 years old (Lanner 1983). They grow quite slowly, usually only about 0.05 inch (0.127 cm) in diameter per year (Gottfried 1992; Meeuwig and Bassett 1983).
Utah juniper's taproot extends deep into the soil (as far as 15 feet (4.5 m). Their lateral roots may extend up to 100 feet (30.3 m) from the tree, several inches below the soil surface. Most root biomass is within the first 3 feet (0.9 m) of soil, with fine roots concentrated in the uppermost 18 inches (46 cm) (Skau 1960) or just below the soil surface (Tiedemann 1987). Utah juniper responds to low nutrient levels in the soil by developing extensive networks of fine roots at the base of the tree and at the end of lateral roots. This rooting habit may explain, in part, the competitiveness of juniper with understory species (Kearney et al. 1960; Klopatek 1987). Junipers compete more efficiently for soil moisture than do herbaceous understory plants; therefore, over time, junipers are more likely to maintain a stable population, while understory plants decrease (Austin 1987; Everett et al. 1983; Springfield 1976). However it is interesting to note, a Utah study concluded that Utah junipers do not use soil moisture from summer precipitation and do not have active roots in shallow soils layers during the summer (Donovan 1994).
Utah juniper is the most common tree in the Great Basin and is widely distributed throughout the arid West (Hitchcock and Cronquist 1973; Lanner 1983). The tree occurs occasionally in southern Idaho, southern Montana, and western Wyoming, and is common in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and southeastern California. Utah juniper is the most common juniper species in Arizona (Arnold 1964).
Ceremonies: Blessing Way, Night Chant, Mountain Chant, War Chant, Enemy Way, Evil Way, "War Dance", Enemy Way, Western direction
- emetic in 5- and 9-night ceremonies. Used to make ceremonial items (Mayes and Lacy 1989:55)
- Juniper bark used for tray to hold powders for sand painting. The charcoal is ground and used for black in sand paintings. Twig dipped in a bowl, then touched to Whirling Logs picture in Night Chant (Elmore 1944:18);
- bark for tinder for Night Chant fire from lightning-struck juniper tree (Elmore 1944:17)
- juniper carried by dancers in Mountain Chant Fire Dance (Elmore 1944:18).
- Branches mashed with Pinus needles, mixed in water, and applied to War Chant patients (Franciscan Fathers 1929:371).
- Branches are made into wand for war dance (Elmore 1944:20).
- Scale leaf is chewed, then spat out for good luck (Franciscan Fathers 1929:497). (Elmore 1944:18). Wood made into prayer sticks (Elmore 1944:18; Franciscan Fathers 1929:396).
- Night Chant fire drill made from lightning-struck juniper tree (Elmore 1944:17). Wood used to make prayer sticks for the western direction (Elmore 1944:20).
- One-seed Juniper is used as an Enemy Way medicine, Evil Way hoops (Wyman and Harris 1941:73-74),
- branches are carried in War Dance, tied with Chrysothamnus or Gutierrezia (Elmore 1944:19),
- sharpened stick used for scratching during the Enemy Way ceremony (Wyman and Harris 1941:74).
- One-seed juniper wood made into prayer sticks (Elmore 1944:19).
- Rocky mountain juniper, used as an Enemy Way medicine (Wyman and Harris 1941:74),
- branches pounded, then mixed with water taken internally for War Dance medicine (Elmore 1944:20)
- Virginia Juniper is made into wand for war dance (Elmore 1944:20)
- Rocky mountain juniper, used for medicine and ceremonial equipment in the Blessing Way, Evil Way and other ceremonials (Mayes and Lacy 1989:55)
- Juniper mixed with other plants and rubbed into the head to treat dandruff (Franciscan Fathers 1929:112)
- juniper, Rocky mountain berry rubbed into the scalp with a grass to remove dandruff (Elmore 1944:20)
- Several authors indicate that juniper (common) tea taken to treat pain after childbirth (Wyman and Harris 1941:62; Lynch 1986:22; Bailey 1940:290)
- juniper berry boiled, then liquid drunk to treat influenza (Elmore 1944:18)
- juniper,(one-seed and common) decoction drunk as an emetic (Wyman and Harris 1941:58)
- juniper, Utah berry (fruit) eaten to treat headache (Hocking 1956:152)
- formerly mashed and eaten with mush (Bailey 1940:287)
- juniper berry (fruit) eaten raw or roasted, "ground into a meal and mixed with bread dough" (Lynch 1986:22)
- juniper scale leaf ashes used in making breads and cornmeal mush (Lynch 1986:22)
- juniper, one-seed inner bark chewed for juice, eaten during food shortage (Castetter 1935:32; Elmore 1944:19)
- juniper, one-seed berry (fruit) eaten in fall and winter (Elmore 1944:19)
- used for firewood (Bailey1940:273; Elmore1944:18-19)
- made into charcoal for smithing (Franciscan Fathers1929:274)
- Bailey 1940:273, 287, 290
- Castetter 1935:32
- Elmore 1944:17-20
- Franciscan Fathers 1929: 112, 274, 396, 497
- Hocking 1956:152
- Lynch 1986:22
- Mayes and Lacy 1989:55
- Wyman and Harris 1941:58, 62, 74