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The tale of the tallest common juniper

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:07 pm
by F.Jakobsson
Four years ago NTS member KoutaR asked me if I knew the exact location of the common juniper said to be 18.5 m (60.7 ft) tall and growing at Lake Glypen. The claimed height would make it tallest in the world and Kouta wanted to measure it.

A record conifer in Sweden?! I was intrigued and started searching the Internet for a more exact location trying all kinds of Swedish keywords, but all websites just repeated the general location and height. I then contacted the person in charge of ‘park and nature’ in the municipality where the juniper was located who in turn asked around among colleagues. I learned that there had been a local inventory of trees especially worthy of protection in 2009, but juniper wasn't what they primarily were looking for and height was of no interest in the inventory.
Nor did the many relevant books I looked through shed any light over the matter.

Having put the Glypen juniper temporarily on hold I began noticing tall junipers myself, having neglected this aspect of junipers earlier. The mysterious Glypen juniper continued however to haunt me and a few days ago I realized that a planned trip would make it possible to visit Glypen (2.5 h drive southwest of Stockholm) and go looking for the juniper. This led me to once again try a few Internet searches and this time one of them actually paid off:

I found a pdf containing local newspaper clippings; diverse articles written between 1972 and 1982 by editor Christer Berg. A few years ago he had donated his clippings and thanks to their recent digitization the fate of the Glypen juniper was finally rediscovered. Here's a translated summary of the relevant article published January 12, 1981 which also proved to be the original source:

SWEDEN'S LONGEST (?) JUNIPER HAS FALLEN
One of Sweden's longest junipers, perhaps the longest of all has fallen, probably because of autumn storms and a partially rotten trunk. The record juniper measures 18.5 m from top to bottom and has a circumference of 120 cm. Lars Nygren noticed it for the first time in 1964 while building a cottage not far away. At first he thought it was somekind of strange Norway spruce mutation since it was as tall as the surrounding spruces. He was greatly surprised to find it was a common juniper on closer inspection. He often thought about measuring it, but it wasn't until recently that he went out to do it. Unfortunately the Glypen juniper had crashed, but it made measuring easier. Lars has sent the measurements to Björn von Rosen who studies conifers. Björn wanted to know the age so Lars will count the annual rings the upcoming spring.
- - -
An accompanying photo shows the fallen Glypen juniper and its discoverer Lars Nygren; ca 4 m of the lower part of the trunk is outside of the photo.
               
                       
Glypen juniper 18.5 meter tall.png
                       
Glypen juniper 18.5 meter tall
               
               

To conclude: in 1981 the fate of the Glypen juniper is reported in the local newspaper when the juniper recently had blown over, probably in autumn storms of 1980. But for some strange reason it was treated onwards in all other sources as a still standing record juniper, never written about in past tense.

I will now let the Glypen juniper rest, just as the juniper itself has been resting on the ground for the last 37 years...

// Fredrik

P.S.

I also encountered a pdf from Swedish Society for Nature Conservation mentioning another tall common juniper  at Röshult in Värnamo (4 h drive southwest of Stockholm). 18 m (60 ft) tall and locally known as Kungen (the King) it was blown over in the extreme storm of 2005. The text then informs the reader of a juniper 0.5 m taller than the King at Lake Glypen, unaware that it too had been blown over, much earlier...
               
                       
King juniper 18 meter tall..png
                       
King juniper 18 meter tall
               
               

So, the question still remains: where does the tallest living common juniper grow at this moment?

Well, maybe in Finland; see Kouta's report:
viewtopic.php?f=396&t=3272

Re: The tale of the tallest common juniper

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 5:26 pm
by mdvaden
Interesting.

Wikipedia's page makes note of Junipers in Oregon's John Day area, over 80 ft. tall. The articles claims "well in excess" of 80 to 90 ft. ... but I haven't seen the tallest there.

What makes a "common Juniper" a common Juniper? Is it more than just being in the genus Juniperus? When I hear "common" I think of the word "typical", but sounds like you're referring to the common name of a species.

Re: The tale of the tallest common juniper

PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:44 pm
by F.Jakobsson
Mario,

When writing common juniper I referred to Juniperus communis. Common juniper being the common name. Forgot to include the species in the post.

The John Day area junipers are apparently Juniperus occidentalis (western juniper or Sierra juniper) according to Wikipedia.

// Fredrik