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Redberry juniper is a scraggly evergreen shrub that invades grazing lands in the Texas Panhandle and throughout Central and West Texas. This plant was originally identified in the Palo Duro Canyon of Texas and is named after the botanist Gifford Pinchot.
Can be found on many different sites and soils throughout the Southwest.
Grows very fast, even in poor soils. If left unchecked, it can dominate a pasture by closing the canopy within a few short years.
Can be distinguished from the Ashe juniper by the growth habit of the plant: Redberry juniper has numerous branches and trunks stemming from a central base that can sprout from the main root. The Ashe juniper generally has one central trunk and does not have the ability to sprout from the root.
Has very aromatic yellowish-green leaves. The female plant produces a thin-skinned green berry that will turn reddish as it matures, giving it the name “Redberry.”
Redberry juniper is a hardy shrub that is very hard to control because it sprouts from the base of the plant. If the top is removed it seems to “get mad” and accelerate recovery. It also establishes very easily from the many seeds produced each year.
Redberry juniper has very little use because it does not produce straight limbs or trunks that can be used as fence posts like the Ashe juniper. Several species of wildlife do eat the seeds, also a major way for the pest to spread.
Redberry juniper can be controlled by grubbing the root ball with machinery or a properly-placed application of herbicide when the plant is small. Unlike Ashe juniper, it is not controlled easily with prescribed fire.
Editor’s note: Kent Ferguson, retired rangeland management specialist from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), is providing us with plant identification photo stories to help ranchers identify those forbs, forages and species growing in the pastures. Additional photos provided by USDA NRCS.