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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Creeping Juniper - Juniperus horizontalis

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 4

External Links

State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
See rank details
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 05/24/2012
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    Score0-1 - Moderate to Large: Population size is imprecisely known but is believed to be >10,000 individuals.

    Range Extent

    Score0 - Widespread species within Montana (occurs in 5% or more of the state or generally occurring in 6 or more sub-basins.) as well as outside of Montana.

    Area of Occupancy

    Score0 - High: Occurs in >25 Subwatersheds (6th Code HUC’s).

    Environmental Specificity

    Score0 - Low: Species is a generalist that occurs in a variety of habitats and/or is tolerant of disturbed or degraded habitats (C -Values of 1-4).


    Score0 - Stable or Increasing: Population size, range, and/or available habitat stable, increasing or fluctuating in the recent past (approximately 30 years).


    Score0 - Low: Impacts, if any, to the species are expected to be minor or insignificant (affecting <10% of populations) in severity, scope and immediacy.

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    Score0 - Low Vulnerability: Species does not have any unusual or specific life history or biological attributes or limted reproductive potential which makes it susceptible to extirpation from stochastic events or other adverse impacts to its habitat and thus slow to recover.

    Raw Conservation Status Score

    Score 0 to 1 total points scored out of a possible 19.

General Description
Creeping juniper grows along the ground in dense mats no more than 2 feet tall and 4-8 feet wide. The peeling, reddish brown bark is obscured by the thick overlapping mat of branches. The evergreen leaves are mostly scale-like and pressed close to the branches but needle-like leaves can also be found as in other junipers. Obscure flowers produce blue, berry-like cones containing 3-5 seeds.

Species Range
Montana Range


Range Comments
Across much of MT; AK to NL south to CO, IL and NY (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 755

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Sandy prairie, old gravel bars, limestone outcrops; plains, valleys, montane, rarely up to treeline (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Lesica, P., M.T. Lavin, and P.F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Lonner, T.N. 1972. Age distributions and some age relationships of key browse plants on big game ranges in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 79 p.
    • Martin, P.R. 1973. Ecology of skunkbrush sumac (Rhus trilobata Nutt.) in Montana with special reference to use by mule deer. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 97 p.
    • Miller, J.G. 1978. An ecoligical study of creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis Moench.) in Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 154 p.
    • Nielsen, L.S. 1978. The effects of rest-rotation grazing on the distribution of Sharp-tailed Grouse. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 52 p.
    • Pallister, G.L. 1974. The seasonal distribution and range use of bighorn sheep in the Beartooth Mountains, with special reference to the West Rosebud and Stillwater herds. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 67 p.
    • Scow, K.L. 1981. Ecological distribution of small mammals at Sarpy Creek, Montana, with special consideration of the Deer Mouse, Peromyscus maniculatus. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, Montana: Montana State University. 73 p.
    • Stewart, S.T. 1975. Ecology of the West Rosebud and Stillwater bighorn sheep herds, Beartooth Mountains, Montana. M.Sc. Thesis. Bozeman, MT: Montana State University. 130 p.
    • Tuinstra, K. E. 1967. Vegetation of the floodplains and first terraces of Rock Creek near Red Lodge, Montana. Ph.D dissertation. Montana State University, Bozeman 110 pp.
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Citation for data on this website:
Creeping Juniper — Juniperus horizontalis.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from