Juniper Trees

 Juniper trees are a beautiful sight to behold out at Red Rock Canyon. Actually,  anywhere in the southwest where you can adventure out into the wilderness and find one of these beautiful specimens of foliage is a real treat. The berries are actually called cones and birds eat them, they can also be used to make gin, a drink for humans. The problem with the juniper trees recently has been bird droppings, or ding, with a mistletoe seed in the poop. This then attaches to the tree and sucks the water out of the bark to grow the plant, then the mistletoe eats the tree. The mistletoe is a parasite for the trees. Out in the desert, especially where water is scarce, plants have to fight to survive, and the mistletoe is really taking over a lot of the juniper trees. While we’re out hiking, we love to find these trees and stare in awe at their beauty, always hoping to not see mistletoe. When I stop to sketch these trees I try to capture their needles and show the berries in bright colors. To me, they look like Christmas tree ornaments adorning the tree naturally. What do you see when you spot them? Have any of you seen them in real life, or just in photographs? Here are some paintings of Junipers I have done over the last few years. Let me know your thoughts on the comments!

What are you favorite paintings out of this little collection? What is your favorite tree or bird? I have a few plain air sketches of these trees from hiking as well and fortunately none of those have mistletoe. Please do not ever eat the mistletoe or berries as they are poisonous. I will not even eat a Juniper berry/cone if the mistletoe is growing anywhere on the tree. This parasite affects the structure of the tree. It can be removed carefully and trees can be spared, however that takes a specific skill set and knowledge in that area. Please do not attempt it unless you know what you are doing. Thank you for reading and have a marvelous Monday! Be safe out there!!

-Karen Hilliard 

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