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Tree to 15(–23) m, trunk slender. Bark greyish brown, thin and flaky, peeling in long, narrow strips. Crown narrow and conical initially, later broad and rounded, often broader than tall. Branchlets decussate to alternate. Juvenile leaves whitish above and bright green below; mature leaves dark green, slightly appressed, 0.1–0.2 × 0.1–0.2 mm, apex acute to obtuse. Dioecious. Male strobili 0.4–0.8 cm long, subglobose to cylindrical, microsporophylls 10–12. Female cones fleshy, usually solitary, subglobose to reniform, 0.4–0.5 × 0.6–0.8 cm, dark blue with greyish bloom. Seeds one to two (to three) per cone. Britton 1918, Adams 1995. Distribution BERMUDA. Habitat Once the dominant tree species on Bermuda, forming pure forests on hillsides and on the margins of marshes. Extent now much reduced. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Critically Endangered. Juniperus bermudiana has suffered a rapid collapse in its population due to the introduction, in the 1940s, of two non-native species of scale insects. Perhaps only one per cent of the original population still survives, and this has had severe repercussions for the island’s economy. Not only was juniper the only significant timber species, but the aesthetic appeal of an island that relies on tourism has been reduced. A number of non-native trees have been introduced to conceal the dying juniper forests, but these could potentially impact upon juniper regeneration in the future (Challinor & Wingate 1971). Illustration NT416. Cross-reference K126. Taxonomic note Juniperus bermudiana is most closely related to J. virginiana of eastern North America.
Juniperus bermudiana attracts attention principally for its occurrence on Bermuda, where it was once an important source of ship-building timber. Bermuda has a mild, frost-free climate, but J. bermudiana is successfully grown at several locations in our area – mostly in very favourable sites at the western extremities of Europe and in San Francisco, but this may be because of an expectation of tenderness, rather than an actuality. The tallest specimen known in cultivation is a tree at Fota, Co. Cork, measured at 19.5 m tall and with a dbh of 45 cm in 2000 (TROBI). There are short trees at Tregrehan and Kew, all planted in sheltered sites, but also two at the Hillier Gardens where temperatures are not particularly mild. Planted in 1995, these were 1.8 m and 2.2 m tall in 2006. The specimen illustrated (Figure 47) was taken from a scraggy old tree lurking behind the Tropical Nursery at Kew which is the source of foliage each year for the wreath of tropical flowers laid at the Cenotaph in Whitehall on Remembrance Sunday by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary, on behalf of Britain’s Overseas Territories, of which Bermuda is one. This tree, and one at Tregrehan, have a mixture of adult and juveniles leaves, the juvenile phase being brighter green than the dark green of the mature shoots.