Juniperus taxifolia Hook. & Arn.

Usually a prostrate or decumbent shrub found along the shorelines of island archipelagos in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Japan


Taxonomic notes:

Adams (2012, 2014) recognises plants from the Ryukyu Islands as Juniperus taxifolia var. lutchuensis (Koidz) Satake on the basis of differences in DNA sequences and minor differences in foliage characters. On the IUCN Redlist, this variety is not recognised.


Endemic to Japan: Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa Group, Amami Group); NW Pacific (admin. by Japan): Ogasawara Group [Bonin Is.]. Also reported from a locality in Honshu, but it is uncertain if it is indigenous there

Habitat and Ecology

Juniperus taxifolia forms a prostrate or decumbent shrub close to the seashore above the tide mark, on rocks or rocky slopes from sea level to the highest parts of the islands. It is also present further inland, where it can be a small, erect tree, in tall grassland and

thickets on deeper, though usually rocky or gravely soils. It is obviously subjected to strong and moist, salt-laden ocean winds.

Human Uses

In some of the larger islands (e.g. Okinawa) this species is being used as a shore windbreak and also cultivated in gardens. It is in cultivation in gardens in Japan, but rare. In the past its wood was used to a limited extent in house building, for posts and as fuel. Seeds were sent to the Arnold Arboretum in Massachusetts, USA by Ernest Wilson in the early part of the 20th century; it remains a rarity in horticulture outside the islands where it is also native.

Conservation Status

Global Status & Rationale

Near Threatened

This species is currently assessed as Near Threatened. No actual threats are currently known to occur, however, the extremely fragmented distribution by nature of its occurrence on oceanic islands and its consequently small area of occupancy make this species susceptible to events that could reduce subpopulations. It almost qualifies as Vulnerable under criterion B2ab.

Conservation Actions

This species has been collected from the Ogasawara, Okinawa Senseki,Okinawa Kaigan and Fuji-Hakone-Izu Reserves, which represent locations on several islands

References and further reading

  1. Adams, R.P. & A.E. Schwarzbach (2012) Taxonomy of Juniperus, section Juniperus: sequence analysis of nrDNA and five cpDNA regions. Phytologia 94(2):280-297.
  2. Adams, R. 2014. Junipers of the world; the genus Juniperus. 4th Edition. USA: Trafford. 415 pp.
  3. Katsuki, T., Farjon, A. & Luscombe, D. 2013. Juniperus taxifolia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T32042A2809466. Downloaded on 06 July 2017.

External links

Entry information:

Entry author:

P.Thomas ·

Entry last edited:

26 Jun 2019

Recommended Citation:

P.Thomas, 2019, Juniperus taxifolia, from the website: ‘Threatened Conifers of The World’ ( Downloaded on 22 April 2024.

Categorised in:

Cupressaceae, Near Threatened, Japan, Korea and Far East and Unknown