Our mystery “seeds” showcased last week were from an alligator juniper, Juniperus deppeana.

Technically these are not the seeds, but berry-like cones that contain the seeds. Notice the white, waxy coating which is a common characteristic.

Alligator junipers are named for their distinctive bark.

Once you’ve seen the bark that forms rectangular blocks, it is pretty easy to identify again. People say it looks like alligator skin.

Here’s another example. There are different subspecies throughout the range that have variations in growing shape and cone size.

It has the typical scale-like leaves of a juniper (Photograph from Wikimedia).

Alligator junipers are generally small, but in this photograph by Tom Check (from Wikimedia) you can see that older alligator junipers can be magnificent trees.

Have you ever seen an alligator juniper? Where did you see it?