Fully ripe berry, January

Female Cones of Ashe Juniper (Juniperus ashei)

by Bob Harms ()
The following description of the female cones of J. ashei is from Marion Hall's "Variation and Hybridization in Juniperus (1952, p. 25).
The ovulate cone consists of 3 ternate scales (a single whorl) or, more commonly, 2 pairs of decussate scales. The sporophyll tips or scales (those which become a tiny flap on the fruit coat) are finely toothed on the margin. The lower sporophyll pair usually has one fertile member resulting in a single-seeded berry-cone. Often the two upper bracts or leaves contribute to the fleshy mature "berry," but they invariably remain at the very base of the fruit. Just after pollination the sporophylls elongate rapidly, so that the young cone becomes about twice a long as wide and looks like a tiny urn. Then the fruit scales begin to grow and completely close over the ovules, pushing the sporophyll tip apart and increasing the girth of the fruit.

I began searching for evidence of ovulate cones during the peak period for pollination during January, 2000, without success. But toward the end of February it was possible to discern the rapid expansion of the scales at the tip of the a branchlet:

24 February 28 February
A cross section of the cone also revealed the tiny ovules (February 29):

The next series of images shows the development to a nearly round and almost full-sized glaucus fruit from early March until late summer. The ovule and surrounding scales also develop rapidly to form a seed over this period. (Click on any image for a larger view.)

March 5 March 9 March 16 March 19
April 1 April 15 April 21 May 14May 28
June 18 July 1 July 16 July 30 August 12

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