Trees in Santa Fe: Piñon and Juniper

How about a brief lesson on the ubiquitous trees of Santa Fe?

The most prevalent trees in our region are Piñon Pines and Junipers.  Both are low, bushy evergreens and New Mexico is just one region included in the nearly 100 million acres of Piñon and Juniper woodlands that stretch from Texas to California.

Did you know that Piñons grow slowly and can take almost a century to reach 39 feet in height, and will only begin to grow cones after 35 years?  Junipers also grow very slowly – a Juniper standing only five feet tall may be 50 years old.

How do you tell the difference between Piñons and Junipers, which often grow together?  Check out the photo below.  The tree with needles in the foreground is a Piñon while the one in the background with scale-like needles is a Juniper.

Piñons can also be identified by their cones with Piñon nuts (see photo below).

Junipers can be male or female.  The females produce berries while the males produce pollen.  It’s pollen season now, so you can see in the photo below that the male is the red tree on the right while the female is the green one on the left.

Below are several links to more information, including harvesting Piñon seeds as well as the threat to these trees from climate change, and how to deal with allergies caused from Juniper pollen.,plants%20of%20the%20cypress%20family.