Phoenicean juniper, Arâr (Eng), sabina negral, sabina mora, sabina negra (Spa), savina (Cat), miter feniciarra (Baq), zimbreira (Por).
“Then I went up from Málaga to Córdoba... I would have liked to go through Ronda to visit its junipers, but it could not be...”
‘El imposible olvido’, Antonio Gala
This juniper is a small tree that grows up to 8 m tall. It often occurs as a shrub because it has been widely exploited and its growth is so slow that there is a shortage of large specimens. Its bark is ash grey and its crown is globose and dense. The twigs are cylindrical and smooth to the touch, differentiating this species from J. thurifera. They are formed by bright green, scale-like leaves that are fairly uniform in size and imbricated like the scales on a fish. However, newly emerged young leaves are similar to those of other junipers, and are shaped like small needles. Specimens tend to have male and female cones separated on the same plant. The fruits (actually false fruit), known as galbuli, are globose, 8-10 mm in diameter, and reddish or dark orange when ripe.
This subspecies grows together with dry Mediterranean scrub, on slopes, upland areas and in rock crevices on any type of substrate, although it is most abundant on limestones. It grows at altitudes of up to 1400 m in mountainous areas, and therefore plays a very important role in stabilising the ground in rocky areas or on steep slopes. It does not form forests; it can be found in stands, but is often solitary. It is very good at withstanding blizzards, drought, and the cold conditions found in the interior of the peninsula.
This plant lives throughout the Mediterranean region and even reaches the Canary Islands. On the Iberian Peninsula, it is more abundant in the eastern provinces.