Ȟaŋté Ačháȟšlaya – Ice-covered Juniper

Photo taken in Shoshone-Bannock territory, at Massacre Rocks State Park in Idaho. Covered in ice and snow after an early-spring storm in mid-March 2019.

There are so many juniper (ȟaŋté) species in North America, and I have yet to learn them all. This one is a little bit thicker, bluer, and more resinous than the one we have on Standing Rock (Juniperus virginiana). Ours is thinner, more of a dark green, and the needles are more delicate.

The berries on this species are also quite different from the ones we have on the prairies. Ours have a much smaller seed, and a much fleshier, softer fruit. These have a larger fruit that is hard, has spikes coming off of it, and have a large(r), hard seed inside. Our prairie junipers produce berries that are good to incorporate into food or medicine, but I’m not sure how edible the juniper berries out in Sho-Ban territory are.

Botanical note: Cedar (Thuja species) and Juniper (Juniperus species) are both evergreen trees. While many people call them both “Cedar” in English, they are different trees, and have different medicinal properties, so I would not recommend using them interchangeably.

If any readers in Sho-Ban territory want to share more information about this tree and your relationship with it, I would love to learn, and get to know it better.

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