juniperus procera African pencil cedar, cedar, East African cedar, East African pencil cedar, pencil cedar
Juniperus procera is an afro-montane tree often reaching 30-35 m high; can reach 50 m, actually the largest tree of its genus. Bole straight but sharply tapered, often with a pronounced twist, commonly heavily fluted, reaches 2-3 m dbh. Bark pale brown to reddish-brown, thin, fibrous, with thin shallow longitudinal fissures, exfoliating in thin papery strips. Leaves grey or glaucous when mature, about 1 mm long, acute, hooded and keeled at the apex, and with a narrow translucent margin and an elliptic oil gland on the back near the base. Juvenile leaves deciduous, in whorls of 3 on shoots, 1-2 cm long, linear and spine tipped, lower part decurrent on the branch, oil gland on abaxial surface, linear, extending 75% of the leaf length. As plant ages, the leaves gradually change until foliage characteristic of mature tree is produced. Inflorescence a dioecious cone. Male cones solitary, terminal on short branchlets, small (about 3 mm long), ellipsoid to subglobose, yellowish, consisting of 5-6 pairs of decussate, subpeltate, obtuse or blunt apiculate scales, each with 2-3 pollen sacs. Female cones solitary, terminal, on short lateral shoots, consisting of 3-4 pairs decussate fleshy scales and bearing a solitary erect ovule. Fruit berrylike, globose or subglobose, reddish-brown to blue-black, waxy, composed of confluent, swollen, fleshy scales with distinguishable tips on female cone, 4-8 mm diameter when ripe, containing up to 4 brown seeds about 5 mm long, with a woody testa, each flattened or triangular. Additional 1-3 smaller aborted seeds are common. 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.