Juniperus chinensis (Chinese Juniper) is a juniper that grows as a shrub or tree with a very variable shape, reaching 1-20 m tall. This native of northeast Asia grows in China, Mongolia, Japan, Korea and the southeast of Russia.
It is a coniferous evergreen shrub. The leaves grow in two forms, juvenile needle-like leaves 5-10 mm long, and adult scale-leaves 1.5-3 mm long. Mature trees usually continue to bear some juvenile foliage as well as adult, particularly on shaded shoots low in the crown. This largely species often has dioecious either male and female plants, but some individual plants produce both sexes of flowers. The blue-black berry-like cones grow to 7-12 mm in diameter, have a whitish waxy bloom, and contain 2-4 seeds; they mature in about 18 months. The male cones, 2-4 mm long, shed their pollen in early spring.
Cultivation and uses
This popular ornamental tree or shrub in gardens and parks has more than 100 named cultivars selected for various characters, such as yellow foliage (e.g. cvs. 'Aurea', 'Tremonia'), permanently juvenile foliage (e.g. cv. 'Shoosmith'), columnar crown shape (cv. 'Columnaris'), abundant cones (e.g. cv. 'Kaizuka'), etc. Chinese juniper, as a non-native species in the U.S., should not be used there in natural plantings. The cultivar 'Shimpaku' is a very important bonsai subject. The Chinese juniper is widely used in bonsai, both as individual plants, such as the 250-year-old "Omiya tree" in the Birmingham Botanical Gardens in the UK, and in groups, such as the well-known Goshin on display at the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at the US National Arboretum.