Cliff Hangers

Cliff Hangers

Determined Juniper Trees © 2008 Bo Mackison

These scraggly trees are common on rocky ridges. Where there is a fracture in the rock, the roots of the trees will reach deep enough to access just enough water to survive. One-seed junipers have the capacity to speed up or slow down their growth depending on water availability. It is also common for part of a tree to die back, allowing the rest of the tree to survive. Though their growth is slow, sometimes only 4 to 6 inches in a decade, they may live for hundreds of years.

Native Americans used the juniper for medicine, gum, dye, food (the berries) and fuel. They also made shoes from the woody fibers. Herbalists still use the plant for a variety of remedies.

These trees are hanging off the rocky top of Walnut Canyon in northern Arizona.

About Bo Mackison

I’m a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place – a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I’d love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It’s my gift to you.


  1. Un arbre bien au sec !
    A dry tree well!

  2. Amazing how trees will find the smallest of cracks to root themselves. Love the colors!!

  3. It never ceases to amaze me how nature always seems to find a way to survive in the harshest of environments. Excellent shot here.

  4. How does something grow there? Pretty amazing.

  5. They really do demonstrate the will to live.

  6. Not the easiest place to pick to grow.

  7. Beautiful nature landscape with trees growing on rocky ridges and colorful sky

  8. Hmmm…I think if I were a tree, ’tis a determined juniper I would be.
    The personality seems to fit. hee, hee

    I love all your photos..I am especially drawn to the desert-scapes. (is there such a genre?) 🙂

    Thanks for sharing our world with us..I hope to see more of it in person someday soon.

  9. I feel like this some days…

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