Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. Family
Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. English Name
Himalayan Pencil Cedar
Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. Local Name
Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. Description
A medium-sized, evergreen tree, up to 25m tall with diameters of 0.6 to 0.8 m. It has a conical crown. The leaves are scale like. There are two leaf shapes, one sharp and needle like and the other flat and feather like. It is monoecious. The male flowers or cones are located at the tips of the branches while the female cones are on shorter branchlets. The flowers appear between May and June. The fruit is a woody cone 0.7 cm in diameter. Each cone contains 2 to 5 seeds. The cones mature between September and October. It is reproduced mainly from seed. Under natural conditions layering has been reported. Seed viability is approximately 5 percent. It has to be sown immediately after collection to get good germination. In the nursery beds, the seed keeps on germinating for 2 years, the first germination starting within 2 months after sowing. Seedlings are pricked in poly bags when 4-5 months old in the beds. Field planting is successful when plants are 2 years old in the nursery. A very slow growing tree, it will reach maturity in 240 to 700 years. Attains 2.5 cm diameter and one m height in 50 years. It is susceptible to bark beetles, especially in a stressed condition and is attacked by dwarf mistletoe, Arceuthobium oxycedri. Its wood is twisted, greyish white and soft and character.
Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. Distribution
The tree is native to the Subcontinent and southeastern Europe. In Pakistan it is found in the dry inner valleys of Balochistan, Kurram, Chitral, Northern Areas, and Kaghan. A very intolerant tree that grows on a variety of fertile to rocky soils. It is found growing in pure groups. It requires a precipitation zone of 200 to 2500 mm/yr or more, with much of the precipitation falling as snow. It prefers an arid cold, temperate climate with a temperature range of -30 to 30°C elevations from 2000 to 4000 m.
Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. Uses
This is a very important tree for watershed protection throughout most its range. In many areas it has been harvested for fuel without any thought of regeneration. A major effort is needed to reforest these valuable watersheds with this tree and its associates. It is both drought and frost hardy. It has a very well developed, spreading root system. Also used as fuel, pencils, gin (berries), medicinal (oil from fruit is carminative, stimulants, diuretic).