Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1
Sp. pl. 2: 1039 (1753).
Bermuda cedar, Bermuda red cedar (En). Cedro das Bermudas (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
Juniperus bermudiana originates from Bermuda and is occasionally grown elsewhere, e.g. in the Mascarene islands. It is fairly often planted in Réunion and Mauritius, somewhat less often in Rodrigues; it has sometimes become naturalized. Juniperus bermudiana is also recorded as being sold in nurseries in Harare (Zimbabwe).
The wood of Juniperus bermudiana is used in carpentry in the Mascarene islands. In Bermuda it was formerly much used for ship and house building, joinery and cabinet work, but large trees have become scarce, and the wood is now mainly used for making furniture and souvenirs, and as firewood.
In the Mascarene islands Juniperus bermudiana is planted as an ornamental. A decoction of the leafy branches is taken to treat cough; the leafy branches are also applied in steam baths for inhalation against respiratory diseases.
The wood is generally knotty, due to the branching habit of the tree and lack of pruning. It has an attractive colour and a sweet scent. The grain is often irregular due to the knots, making it unsuitable for pencil-making. An ethanol extract of the twigs and leaves of Juniperus bermudiana has shown antitumour activity due to the presence of the lignan deoxypodophyllotoxin.
Evergreen, dioecious, small tree up to 12(–15) m tall; bole up to 60 cm in diameter; outer bark thin, exfoliating in strips, red-brown becoming grey-brown; crown pyramidal in young trees, spreading or flat-topped in older ones; branches spreading or ascending. Leaves on ultimate branchlets decussately opposite, on some leading branches in alternating whorls of 3, scale-like, on ultimate branchlets ovate-rhombic to rhombic-lanceolate, 1.5–2.5 mm × 1–1.5 mm, apex obtuse to acute, margin entire, green. Male cone terminal on ultimate branchlets, oblong-cylindrical, more or less quadrangular, 4–6 mm × 2–3 mm, yellowish green when young, yellowish brown to pale brown when mature; scales 12–16, decussately opposite, peltate, each bearing 4–6 flattened pollen sacs. Female cone terminal on erect ultimate branchlets, mature one irregularly globose or pear-shaped to almost kidney-shaped, 4–6 mm × 5–8 mm, pulpy, resinous, pruinose-blue or dark purplish blue, 1–2(–3)-seeded; scales 6, decussately opposite, fused. Seeds ovoid-globose, 2–3 mm long, more or less keeled, lustrous brown.
Juniperus comprises about 50 species and is very widespread in subtropical and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, with some species in tropical mountains.
In Bermuda Juniperus bermudiana occurs near sea-level, on sandy soils and limestone rocks.
Germination takes 3–6 months; growth during the first 10 years is slow. In Mauritius Juniperus bermudiana is attacked by the aphid Cinara cupressi, which damages the terminal growing points, thus retarding new growth, causing desiccation of stems, and progressive die-back. The aphids are easily transported on planting stock, and can multiply rapidly.
Genetic resources and breeding
In Bermuda the once extensive and dominating stands have been decimated by overexploitation, introduction of exotic species and epidemics of accidentally introduced scale insects. Juniperus bermudiana is classified as critically endangered in the 2006 IUCN Red list of threatened species.
Little is known on the wood properties of Juniperus bermudiana, but its quality seems not as high as that of the well-known East African cedar (Juniperus procera Hochst. ex Endl.), which is widely used in East and southern Africa. Therefore, and in view of its limited distribution, its importance as a source of timber in tropical Africa is unlikely to increase.
• Farjon, A., 2005. A monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 643 pp.
• Groves, G.R., 1955. The Bermuda cedar. World Crops 7(9): 343–347.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1996. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 2. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 532 pp.
• Marais, W., 1997. Cupressacées. In: Bosser, J., Cadet, T., Guého, J. & Marais, W. (Editors). Flore des Mascareignes. Familles 27–30bis. The Sugar Industry Research Institute, Mauritius, l’Institut Français de Recherche Scientifique pour le Développement en Coopération (ORSTOM), Paris, France & Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 3 pp.
• Walker, L.C., 1998. Bermuda: island paradise, ecological disaster. Journal of Forestry 96(11): 36 39.
• Alleck, M. & Seewooruthun, S.I., 2001/2002. Cinara cupressivora, a pest of cypress: some aspects of its biology and the assessment of its damage. Revue Agricole et Sucriere de l’Ile Maurice 80(3)/81(1/3): 17–28.
• Conifer Specialist Group, 1998. Juniperus bermudiana. In: IUCN. 2006 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] http://www.iucnredlist.org. Accessed October 2006.
• Mullin, L.J., 2000. Conifers in Zimbabwe. Kirkia 17(2): 199–217.
• Tammami, B., Torrance, S.J. & Cole, J.R., 1977. Antitumor agent from Juniperus bermudiana (Pinaceae): deoxypodophyllotoxin. Phytochemistry 16(7): 1100–1101.
Correct citation of this article:
Brink, M., 2007. Juniperus bermudiana L. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.