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Shrub or tree to 30 m. Bark greyish brown and fissured, peeling in long strips. Habit variable, from a narrow, conical tree to a dwarf, prostrate shrub. Branchlets pendulous, prominently six-angled. Leaves of a juvenile form, yellowish green, glaucous, concave, 0.3–0.5(–0.7) × 0.1–0.15 cm, keeled, upper surface with inconspicuous white stripes, apex acuminate. Monoecious. Male strobili 0.3–0.4 cm long, ovoid or globose, microsporophylls six to nine. Female cones subglobose to ovoid, 0.7–0.9 cm diameter, lustrous black. Seeds one per cone. Fu et al. 1999e, Farjon 2005c. Distribution CHINA: western Sichuan, northwest Yunnan. Habitat Montane forests between 2600 and 3800 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Lower Risk.
Juniperus pingii is apparently closely related to J. squamata, and there has been some confusion amongst cultivated plants in the past, but J. pingii can be distinguished by its leaves, which have a keel on the underside and lack longitudinal grooves (Fu et al. 1999e). The species is well established in cultivation and is available commercially, although often in the form of selected cultivars. The typical horticultural form is a multistemmed shrub, at least when the plant is young, with ascending branches clad in light green leaves. It is not clear when or by whom this was introduced.
J. pingii var. carinata Y.F. Yu & L.K. Fu
Var. wilsonii has stout branchlets and typically forms a shrub or small tree to 2 m. The branchlets may be six-angled (var. carinata) or not. Fu et al. 1999e, Farjon 2005c. Distribution CHINA: Gansu, Hubei, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xizang, Yunnan. Habitat Thickets on mountain slopes between 2600 and 4900 m asl. USDA Hardiness Zone 7. Conservation status Lower Risk. Cross-reference K149 (as J. squamata ‘Loderi’).
This dwarf, alpine shrub has been in cultivation since it was found by E.H. Wilson (as J. squamata var. wilsonii Rehder) in 1909, and several selections were named early in the twentieth century. Among these was ‘Loderi’, a particularly dwarf clone with somewhat columnar habit (Krüssmann 1985b), which is probably the most frequent representative of var. wilsonii. Wild material has been collected by SICH expeditions in several years (SICH 138 in 1988, SICH 549 in 1991, SICH 2320 in 1993), all from low bushes growing at high altitudes.