7 May 2015

Juniper in fruit near Taif – Wadi Thee Ghazal

Juniperus procera is known locally in Arabic as arar and as Juniper in English and is an afro-montane tree often reaching 30-35 m high and is the largest tree of its genus. The trunk is straight but sharply tapered, often with a pronounced twist and the bark is pale brown to reddish-brown, thin, fibrous, with thin shallow longitudinal fissures, exfoliating in thin papery strips. The leaves are grey or glaucous when mature; about 1 mm long and as the plant ages, the leaves gradually change until the foliage is characteristic of the mature tree is produced.  The fruit is berrylike, reddish-brown to blue-black, waxy and is 4-8 mm in diameter when ripe. Juniperus is the classical Latin name of the junipers, from the Celtic word for rough, referring to the texture of the bark. The specific name, ‘procera’, is Latin for tall or high. The species flowers and seeds only periodically every several years, with the tree wind pollinated. The photos below were taken at Wadi Thee Ghazal near Taif in the mountains of western Saudi Arabia last weekend. The height was almost 2000 metres above sea level and there were plenty of large mature Juniper trees some of which were in fruit as shown in the photos below. Many birds were enjoying the fruits of the tree including Song Thrushes and Tristram’s Starlings.




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