Sun or partial shade. A fragrant, evergreen native conifer, with shaggy bark used by Texas’ golden-cheeked warbler for nest-building. The male trees produce pollen, looking like red dust on the branches in winter; this causes misery for those with cedar allergies. (The female trees produce no pollen, just blue gin berries relished by wildlife.)
The rest of the year, the scent of juniper at night is synonymous with the Texas Hill Country, and its decomposing leaves create a rich soil for many native Hill Country plants. Despite misconceptions to the contrary, Ashe juniper is not “invasive,” just well adapted to the harsh, rocky conditions where it thrives. Since livestock find it unpalatable, its range expanded with cattle ranching.
Ashe juniper is often seen growing as brush. Fire has often pruned away the bottom-most branches to give it the tree-like trunks often seen in new subdivisions. Cedar provides an effective evergreen landscape property screen when it is retained.
Female trees (the ones with the blue berries) produce no pollen. Typically no pruning is required for a pleasing native form. Leave the upper 2/3 of the crown uncut to maintain a healthy specimen; when pruning, stick to the bottom third of the tree.