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Juniperus chinensis var. sargentii - Sargent juniper

Sargent juniper is from the extreme east of Asia; it was received at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum from Japan’s Hokkaido Island in 1892 and named after the arboretum’s first director C. S. Sargent (1841-1927). The species also grows on all the other Japanese islands, the Korean peninsula, the Kuriles, and in the south of Sakhalin. Its usual habitat is among dense shrub thickets below mountain tops, meadows and screes, but in the more northern parts of its range mainly along rocky sea shores.

Sargent juniper is seldom grown but described as a beautiful low conifer shrub. It is a ground-creeper with long stems with dense side-branches. When young, the pale bluish-green leaves are needle-shaped but with age the branches also have scale-like mature leaves. It is usually dioecious, i.e. the male and female flowers are on separate individuals.

Sargent juniper is rare in Finnish nursery catalogues. It has spread from Mustila to enthusiasts’ collections early in this millennium when the Aboretum grew some plants from Russian seed. The variety ‘Glauca’, named in Holland by Grootendorst, is also an excellent blue ground-cover plant. The unpleasant camphor odour of the crushed leaves is an unmistakable means of identification.