Mediterranean Juniper (Juniperus turbinata), CoastalPath
Juiperus turbinata can be from 6 to 8 m tall, although it is usually a shrub or small tree round to 3 m tall. Its top is conical, very thick so it resembles more cypresses than Juniperusmacrocarpa (Juniperusoxycedrus subsp. macrocarpa), which is of similar size. The trunk has brown-whitish or brown-reddish bark. These trees have branches which are prolonged at the end. Their leaves are small with intertwined scales which look like the roof tiles. This species is a hermaphrodite, that is to say, male and female organs are on the same plant.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
They live on relatively stable dunes, where salty winds are strong and there is drought, so these plants are thought to be tolerant to lack of rain and a lot of sunlight. As for the ground, they are not very demanding, although they favour acidic soils, such as those composed of sand. They form juniper groves, one of the most characteristic trees of the Mediterranean forest. They usually inhabit altitudes from 0 to 800 m, although they are more likely to be found at the sea level.
HOW THEY LIVE
As this is a conifer plant, Juiperusturbinata is a gymnosperm, so it reproduces by male and female cones that develop at the bottom of the plant. These plants stabilise sand on the shores, by preventing the sand from spreading around and destroying the dunes.
WHERE THEY CAN BE SEEN IN MÁLAGA
Considering that these plants above all live in the Atlantic region, in Málaga, they are common on dunes in Marbella, and above all at the nature site Artola Dunes, where they form small forests with trees that can be up to 6 m tall. They can also be seen in Manilva, Punta Chulera, but on hard soil made of sandstone.
This species is important as it forms part of juniper forests, which are relics of primitive vegetation which has been kept alive on this coast. They something like alive plant fossils.
In the juniper forests in Cadiz and Huelva, this species can be confused with Juniperusmacrocarpa, although the latter one does not have the leaves with scales but pointed ones. On occasions, it can be mistaken for Juniperusphoenicea, above all in habitats different than dunes.