Juniperus thurifera in Morocco

Some news about Junipers

A book dedicated to Juniper species is now puplished in France by "Actes Sud" Editors. To learn more, click here !

In few days: a web page on the forest fire that occured recently on the Rié mountain, a small protected stand (Natura 2000) of an endangered species: Juniperus thurifera (50% of trees are dead) (photos and map).



The thuriferous juniper (Juniperus thurifera L. ) is located on the western part of the Mediterranean basin (see the map below). We can find this species in France, in Spain, in Algeria and in Morocco, on a scattered area ranging from 100 to 150 000 ha.

- In France, the thuriferous juniper is located in Alps, Pyrenees and Corsica. In villages, this tree has several names like "le savinier" (Fournier, 1948), "le chaï" (Lathuillière, 1994), "loù savin" (Charras, 1993), "mourenc" (Lathuillière, 1994), or "sabine en arbre". Some names like "cèdre d'Espagne", "genévrier d'Espagne", "genévrier à encens" or "genévrier porte-encens" (Rameau et al., 1993) are more common. For further informations, click here.


Juniperus thurifera map


- In spain, we can find this species in numerous places: Murcia, Albacete, Guadalajara, Cuenca, Teruel, Soria, Segovia and Burgos. Like in France, several local names described this juniper: "sabina vera" (Aragon) (Braun-Blanquet & de Bolos, 1957), "sabina blanca" or "ratiza" (Blanco Castro et al., 1997). Some names are very ancient ("cedro hispanico", "trabino" or "trabina") but the more common names are "sabina albar" (Castilla y León) and "enebro" (Blanco Castro et al., 1997). For further informations, click here.

- In Italy, this species called "ginepro turifero" or "ginepro spagnolo" (Rameau et al., 1993), has been found recentyl in two places in Alps (Barbero et al., 1987 & 1988): Valdieri in the Gesso valley and Moïola in the Stura valley.

- In Algeria, the Thuriferous juniper is strictly limited to the Aures mountains (Djbel Chélia, 2300 m.), from 1650 to 1800 meters of altitude, with a number of scattered and often very large trees in the cedar stands, which are probably the remains of more extensive stands (Lapie and Maige, 1914; Gaussen & Vernet, 1958). The Juniper stands are opened and degraded woodlands. Trees are old and natural regeneration is weak (Chirio & Blanc, 1997).

- In Morocco, the thuriferous juniper grows in High Atlas mountains and Middle Atlas mountains between 1700 m and 2500 m (Emberger, 1934; Quézel, 1980; Lecompte, 1969) and often constitute the upper timberline. Some trees can reach 3000m. Evergreen oaks (Quercus ilex) and Cedar (Cedrus atlantica) are the two arborean species which can grow with the thuriferous juniper.


juniperus thurifera

(Photo T. Gauquelin)

They often represent the tree limit. These trees can have very impressive dimensions. Some of them reach 19m high, the tree on the photography measuring 16m of circumference.

In Berber villages, the Thuriferous juniper is known under several names like Androman and Andkrhoman in Aït Bouguemez and Tizi n'Tichka valleys (Haut Atlas Central). In the Todrha valley, its names are Awal or Tawalt (Auclair, 1991), but in Azzaden valley (Eastern High Atlas) its name is Adrouman


This hardy species is able to support extreme climatical conditions: in the high valleys of the Atlas mountains, winters are cold and summers very warm and dry. Its sturdiness expresses oneself also through its resistance to mutilations. But its intensive exploitation, whose depends the surviving of mountain dwellers, is a great danger for its future as well as that villages to which it is intimately linked.

The degradation of these stands also presents serious ecological consequences: erosion of soils, desertification, contribution to the northern Sahara sanding-up, decline of the biodiversity, loss of an interesting botanical element (Benabid, 1987; Gauquelin, 1988; Fromard & Gauquelin, 1993).

The Thuriferous, whose current area is estimated in Moroccan Atlas to 20 000 ha, is considered as the forest species having most regressed in Morocco, with a recession of 90% as compared to its potential distribution area.


Juniperus thurifera
Juniper woodland in Azzaden valley (High Atlas, Morocco)
(Photograph V. Bertaudière)