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Home arrow The Daily Dirt arrow Wednesday What's New: Drought Tolerant Junipers
Wednesday What's New: Drought Tolerant Junipers Print E-mail
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Junipers in desert

Living on the relatively moist east coast, Id never thought of junipers, also known as cedars, to be particularly drought tolerant, but they are. In fact, they are one of the most drought tolerant groups of plants in the world. This adaptive feature is coming in handy in the drought afflicted southwestern US, particularly in the pinyon pine-juniper woodlands where the junipers are surviving and the pinyon pines are not.

Over the past 100 years, junipers have slowly been expanding into drier habitats and scientists have discovered the adaptive mechanism behind this ability to survive a lack of water. It has to do with a structural adaptation in the water conducting xylem tissue in the plants that has to do with extra woody material being present in the xylem tissue than other plants have (click on the article link below if you want to read the nitty gritty details).

Their findings indicate that the California juniper growing in the Mojave Desert in California is the most drought resistant and the least resistant is (no surprise) the eastern red cedar, an old field pioneer that grows in the eastern U.S. Despite it being less resistant, eastern red cedar is actually quite drought tolerant and its range has been creeping westward into some of the Midwestern states as well.