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Shrub or tree (rarely prostrate) to 15(–20) m, 1 m dbh. Bark initially smooth with papery flakes; later grey, fibrous, peeling in long strips. Crown pyramidal, becoming broad and irregular with age; shrub or prostrate habit develops at high altitude. Branchlets in dense, irregular sprays. Juvenile leaves 0.5–0.8 × 0.1–0.2 cm, keeled; mature leaves shiny green or yellowish green, appressed, 0.2–0.5 cm long, apex acute; foliage has a somewhat unpleasant smell when crushed. Dioecious. Male strobili yellow or yellowish brown, 0.2–0.35 cm long, globose to ovoid, microsporophylls 8–12. Female cones globose, 0.5–1.3 cm diameter, dark blue or black, pruinose; becoming somewhat resinous and woody. Seeds one to two (to three) per cone, coalesced into a single dispersal unit, 0.5–0.7 cm diameter. Farjon 2005c. Distribution ALBANIA; ARMENIA; AZERBAIJAN; CYPRUS; GREECE; LEBANON; MACEDONIA; TURKEY; UKRAINE: Crimea. Habitat Dry, rocky slopes with shallow soils, between 0 and 2000 m asl. Annual precipitation between 400 and 1000 mm. USDA Hardiness Zone 9. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Farjon 1992; NT420. Cross-references B486, K137.
In the wild, despite its often rather arid habitat, Juniperus foetidissima can become immense and very ancient. Trees are known in Turkey with measurements of up to 42 m tall, dbh 200 cm, and one of 27 m has been recorded with a dbh of 462 cm (Gymnosperm Database 2007b). In cultivation, however, there appear to be very few trees, which is curious – especially with provenances so close to western Europe as the Balkans. At the Hillier Gardens a slow-growing specimen planted before 1976 has now reached 5.5 m (7 cm dbh), but this is the only one traced.