The Juniper Mystery: Why Is a Tree That’s Supposed to Withstand Drought Suddenly Dying in Southern Utah?

The Utah juniper is considered the West’s most drought-tolerant and resilient conifer, withstanding even the worst dry spells while nearby pinyon and ponderosa drop their needles and die.

So it was with some alarm for Kay Shumway, a retired science educator from Blanding, when he noticed yellowing among the juniper on southeastern Utah’s Moki Dugway last spring, a time of year when these trees’ needles should carry a vivid shade of green as they ramp up their photosynthetic capacity.