Juniperus Communis
(Common Juniper)
[L.]

Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinatae
Family: Cupressaceae
Family Description: Cypress
Key Characteristics:
Also known as Dwarf/Prostrate Juniper. Prostrate or low, dioecious shrub, usually less than 2 m tall, forming dense mats up to 1-3 m in diameter; leaves in threes, linear-lanceolate, awl-shaped, sharp pointed, 6-12 mm long, abaxially dark green, deeply grooved and white on adaxial side, jointed at base.
leaves
cones
seeds
  • leaves linear-lanceolate,
  • Sharp pointed,
  • 6-12 mm long, abaxially dark green, deeply grooved on adaxial side
  • staminate cones 3-6 mm long;
  • mature berry-like seed cones 7-9 mm thick,
  • blue with a white bloom;
  • mature second year
  • seeds 1-3.

General Description:
Common Juniper is a prostrate, trailing, up to 3 meter tall, dioecious shrub usually associated with and found growing under Subalpine Fir or other conifers. At higher elevations it may be found growing in the open. The somewhat reddish bark is thin, shredding, and somewhat scaly. The leaves are mostly in three ranks. They are distinctive from the other junipers because they are jointed and remind one of a canoe because they are pointed, concave, and whitish on the inner surface (adaxial) but dark green on the abaxial surface. They can be up to 12 mm long. The dark blue, ovulate cones require two years to mature. They reveal that they are really cones in that the lines of the 3 to 8 fleshy scales are prominent and each usually has a point remaining. They are up to 12 mm in diameter and very fleshy.

Similar Species:
Juvenile Rocky Mountain Juniper

Distribution:
To Alaska south in the mts. to California, east to Newfoundland and Greenland, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas.

Habitat:
From sea level to alpine areas; at lower elevations under other conifers in open woods, mountain valleys; at higher elevations on open, slopes.

Other:
Many varieties used as cultivars; ripe seed cones and leaves as a tincture; seed cones can be chewed before a meal for achlorhydria; eaten as a snack or survival food, said to lower blood sugar from adrenalin hyperglycemia; to alleviate symptoms of urinary tract infections and urethritis; seed cones also used for a volatile oil in the production of gin for its flavor and diuretic properties; oil of juniper is also used as a diuretic, stomachic, and carminative in indigestion, flatulence, and diseases of the kidneuy and bladder and can be mixed with lard or other fat to be put on animal sores to discourage flies.

Important State References:
No information available at this time
Photos & information written by Dr. Karl E. Holte,© 2002