Juniperus maritima

Juniperus maritima in Washington Park, Anacortes
(Nice truck!)

One of the unique pleasures of Washington Park in Anacortes is the Loop Drive.  This is a narrow, winding 2.2 mile/3.7 km drive through deep forest shared by walkers, bikes and vehicles.  Suddenly, the sky opens to a parking area at Juniper Point with an overlook to Burrows Island.  Right in the middle stands this wonderful, weathered old tree.  It has obviously experienced many windstorms on this exposed headland.  Upon inspection, I realized the tree was alive:

Looking across Burrows Channel

I didn't recognize the species.  After some net surfing I discovered the tree is special and has an interesting story.  It was originally classified as Juniperus scopulorum, the Rocky Mountain Juniper.  Pojar only mentions it as such and Robson has a short entry describing J. scopulorum.  In 2007, it was determined that the local specimens are genetically distinct and they were reclassified Juniperus maritima, the Seaside or Puget Sound Juniper.  It seems to like island living as patches are found on Whidbey, Fidalgo, Skagit, the San Juans and Vancouver Island.  It also prefers dry, rocky and more alkaline soil than is usually found in the Northwest.  It must benefit from our Olympic Rain Shadow locale.  According to Adams, "the Washington Park population is the most robust with hundreds of trees."  In the direction of Flounder Bay and the Skyline neighborhood of Anacortes are younger specimens which have a shrubby appearance:

Towards Skyline and Flounder Bay

Nearby stands a beautiful Madrona with a nearly 360° curl in its main trunk.  This is another special Northwest tree.  Next to it a Douglas Fir has also borne the insult of windstorms.  Nevertheless, its cones are evidence that like the old Juniper, it is adapted to survive such injury and to continue producing offspring.  This, after all, is the purpose of all living things.

Madrona and Douglas Fir are abundant 
in Washington Park


  1. Great post. I have driven my car by, and bicycled past that tree many times. I have even taken photos of it. But, I have never studied it.
    Thanks for sharing that information!!!

  2. I could say the very same as Whidbey Woman did--I have done the same things. It is a great spot as is the loop drive. I have shot many a sunset at the top of the loop. We probably have crossed paths a few times.
    You have a nice blog. MB

  3. what a great old tree, i'll try to send this link to one of our oldist oak's (think youll like this, he's called big belly). i've photographed him lots, and you can go inside him were he's hollow.

  4. I've hiked this road many times and marveled at that same bare tree! Nice to see the area from another's perspective! I actually spend a lot of time in Skyline; I should be back up there in Feb. of next year. I'll try to get in touch; maybe we can meet and swap Fidalgo Island stories!

  5. Dave:I know this is an old post, but I very much appreciated it as it got me up to date on our local junipers.


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