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Tree (rarely a shrub) to 20 m, single-stemmed (rarely multistemmed), to 2 m dbh. Bark initially reddish brown, smooth with papery flakes, later reddish to greyish brown with longitudinal furrows, peeling in long strips. Crown open or dense, usually broadly pyramidal. Branchlets compact, often pendulous with an irregular arrangement. Juvenile leaves 0.8–1 × 0.1 cm; mature leaves glossy green (with a very thick cuticle), decussate or in whorls of three, appressed, 0.1–0.2(–0.9) cm long, apex acute; leaf resin glands large, conspicuous and active. Dioecious. Male strobili green to yellow, 0.3–0.5 cm long, microsporophylls 8–10. Female cones subglobose to triangular, rarely globose, 0.2–0.3 cm diameter, light brown to bluish black, pruinose, soft and fleshy, but becoming rather hard with age. Seeds (one to) two to three (to four) per cone, though usually two. Fu et al. 1999e, Farjon 2005c. Distribution AFGHANISTAN; CHINA: western Xizang; INDIA: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir; KAZAKHSTAN; KYRGYZSTAN; PAKISTAN; TAJIKISTAN; UZBEKISTAN. Habitat High, semi-arid valleys in the central Asian mountain ranges, between 1600 and 4300 m asl. Juniperus semiglobosa is tolerant of heat and drought, but also of extremely low temperatures, frost and snow. USDA Hardiness Zone 4. Conservation status Lower Risk. Illustration Farjon 1992. Cross-reference K147.
Juniperus semiglobosa has a wide range in the arid heart of Asia and can form either a tree or a shrub, depending on local conditions. It is extremely hardy and drought-resistant, often surviving in the wild on snowmelt water (Farjon 1992). It is in cultivation, but very rare. The only specimen traced is a young plant at Kew received as a seedling from Saint Petersburg Botanical Garden in 1997, but a cultivated specimen is illustrated by van Gelderen & van Hoey Smith (1996). The species epithet apparently refers to the rather flattened shape of the fruits.