Juniperus osteosperma  (Torr.) Little -  Desert juniper   Cupressaceae

Juniperus monosperma  (Engelm.) Sarg. One-seed juniper

The desert juniper, Juniperus osteosperma, is regarded as a sacred tree by many Native American tribes.  Its branches are placed over hot stones in sweat lodges in order to purify, cleanse and heal those taking part in the ritual.  This evergreen tree grows in dry, rocky, sandy soils in the Great Basin area of the United States. 

Fruits about 1 cm. in diameter (3/4 inch) are glaucous (having a waxy, whitish coating) and raisin-like when dried.  Resin in the cells of the pulpy flesh of the small fruits makes them highly aromatic but less than appetizing.  They were eaten by Native Americans only in times of need.  Several southwestern tribes use the seeds as beads.

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