The Gymnosperm Database


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Conservation status

Juniperus drupacea

Labill. 1791

Common names

Syrian juniper (Farjon 2005).

Taxonomic notes

Syn: Arceuthos drupacea (Labill.) Antoine et Kotschy (Vidakovic 1991). The sole member of Juniperus sect. Caryocedrus Endlicher; this section is allied to sect. Juniperus but differs in the larger pedunculate cones with fused seeds, and broader leaves.


A tree 10-20 (40) m high. Crown conic. Bark rather thick, brown-gray, longitudinally fibrous. Branches spreading or ascending. Branchlets three-sided, with prominent ridges, one-year shoots greenish and two-year ones brown. Leaves needle-like, in whorls of 3, horizontally spreading, tough, 15-25 mm long, 2.5-3.5(-4) mm wide, broadest in the lower third, upper surface slightly chanelled and with 2 white stomata bands; lower surface green, occasionally glaucous (Karaca 1994). Dioecious plant. Fruit globose to ovate, the largest in the genus, 15-25 mm in diameter, ripening in the second year, edible, composed of 6-9 fleshy scales, initially greenish with a waxy bloom and when ripe turning blue-violet to brown and pruinose; axillary on a 5-8 mm peduncle, the peduncle with short (3-4 mm) leaves. Seeds 3 to a fruit, fused together in a hard nut, 10-12 mm long (Vidakovic 1991, Frankis, M.P., pers. comm. 1999.02.05).

Distribution and Ecology

Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel. Most extensive in the Toros Daglari (Cilician Taurus mountains) of S Turkey extending into N Syria; the remaining populations are disjunct and include Mt Parnonas, SE Peleponnisos, Greece (rare); Golan Heights (Israel/Syria); and in Lebanon. Also in coastal forests and maquis (Vidakovic 1991, Vladimir Dinets, e-mails 1998.01.12, Farjon 2005). "It occurs either in small groups or solitary in stands composed of Cedrus libani, Abies cilicica, Pinus nigra, Juniperus foetidissima and Juniperus excelsa. Optimal elevation for this species is between 600 and 1500 m. It succeeds on lime terrains" (Vidakovic 1991). Hardy to Zone 7 (cold hardiness limit between -17.7°C and -12.2°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001).

Big tree

Approx 40 m tall and 1.1 m dbh, Kasimdede cemetery, Kalekaya village (980 m altitude), Hartlap district, Kahramanmaras, Turkey; among a group of equally large Cedrus libani: "[A]mong those competing individuals, there was one which made us excited and forget the cedars: a juniper with a girth of at least 350 cm and a height of 40 m like cedars.  . . . I hugged and caressed it." (Karaca 1994). Possibly the tallest juniper in the world?







Karaca, H. 1994. Monumental trees of Turkey: 6. Juniperus drupacea. Karaca Arboretum Magazine 2 (3): 135-136.

This page edited with the help of M.P. Frankis, 1999.02.

See also

The species account at Threatened Conifers of the World.

Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Schwarzbach, A. E. 2017. Geographic variation in Juniperus drupacea: DNA sequencing and volatile leaf oils: Further evidence of putative Pleistocene genetic isolation between Europe and Asia. Phytologia 99(4): 249-257.

Last Modified 2017-12-29