RETHINKING THE MOUNTAIN CEDAR (ASHE JUNIPER)
Soils in the Hill Country of Texas have been subjected to numerous severe disturbances over the last 150 years. If Mountain Cedars hadn't morphed from trees in forests and woodlands into pioneering thickets of bushy-cedars, our soils would be much more degraded today.
Bushy-cedars vs. Tree-cedars
Large, upland Mountain Cedar at the Shield Ranch with a 31 inch wide trunk. It's at least 300 years old, but could be 500 years old or older. Click HERE to see more photographs of larger Mountain Cedars. Click to estimate Mountain Cedar ages.
Medium, upland Mountain Cedar with a 14 inch wide trunk. Its age ranges from 140 to 233 years old. Click HERE for more photographs of the amazingarray of Mountain Cedar growth habits.
Many Mountain Cedars look more like Eastern Red Cedars. Click HERE to learn the differences. These are called pole-cedars. They were used to build early settler homes, barns, smoke houses, corn cribs, corrals, and worm fences. Later, they were sold as telegraph and telephone poles and railroad ties. The smaller pieces were sold as fence posts.
Tree-cedars are a normal component of wooded areas. As tree-cedars, Mountain Cedars can grow as tree-cedar overstory, stick-cedar understory, or dog-hair regrowth. Historically, they were most common inside old-growth cedarbrakes.
Bushy-cedars form a cover of pioneering thickets to protect and rebuild degraded soils following severe disturbances such as overgrazing and clearcutting. They spread where wooded areas (canyons, slopes, and shallow soils) OR prairies (rolling plains and deeper soils) existed before the disturbances.