Herb: Aligator Juniper

Latin name: Juniperus deppeana

Synonyms: Juniperus deppeana pachyphlaea, Juniperus pachyphlaea

Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Edible parts of Aligator Juniper:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A dry and mealy texture but with a sweet and palatable taste. The fruit can also be dried, ground into a meal and prepared as a mush or cakes. The fruit has a sweetish palatable pulp and is about 15mm in diameter. The cones take 2 years to mature.

Description of the plant:


18 m
(59 feet)

to March

Habitat of the herb:

Open oak or pine woodlands on dry, arid mountain slopes, 1200 - 1800 metres.

Other uses of Aligator Juniper:

Wood - light, soft, not strong, brittle, close grained. Although easily worked, it is of limited value as lumber and is used mainly for fence posts and fuel.

Propagation of the herb:

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed "green" (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years. Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.

Cultivation of Aligator Juniper:

Open oak or pine woodlands on dry, arid mountain slopes, 1200 - 1800 metres.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Juniperus deppeana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.