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Juniperus communis L.
Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)
USDA Symbol: juco6
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)
Usually a spreading low shrub, sometimes forming broad or prostrate clumps; rarely a small tree with an open irregular crown.
Although commonly a tree in Eurasia, Common Juniper is only rarely a small tree in New England and other northeastern States. In the West, it is a low shrub, often at timberline. Including geographic varieties, this species is the most widely distributed native conifer in both North America and the world. Juniper "berries" are food for wildlife, especially grouse, pheasants, and bobwhites. They are an ingredient in gin, producing the distinctive aroma and tang.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Cone
Size Notes: Shrub-like, up to about 12 feet tall, or growing as a tree up to about 30 feet tall.
Fruit: Seed cones bluish black. Though technically incorrect, the seed cones are often referred to as berries.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr
DistributionUSA: AK , AL , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , GA , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MT , NC , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SC , SD , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Widespread from Alaska east to Labrador and S. Greenland, south to New York, and west to Minnesota and Wyoming; also south in mountains to NW. South Carolina and central Arizona; also Iceland and across N. Eurasia; to 8000-11,5000' (2438-3505 m) in south.
Native Habitat: Rocky slopes in coniferous forests of mountains and plains.
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Sandy
BenefitUse Food: EDIBLE PARTS: Berries"" used to flavor gin and for cooked meats and red cabbage. Crushed berries make nice seasoning. Juniper tea can be made by placing a dozen young berryless twigs in a quart of cold water.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: Fleshy cones (resemble berries), leaves. Toxic Principle: Volatile oils including thujone.
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Find Seed or Plants
Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.
View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
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Shrubs for playground barrier hedge in Darien CT
December 07, 2009
I am working on my Eagle Scout project which is a barrier hedge in front of a playground at our town's baseball field to protect the kids from getting hit by balls. The fence would be 4 feet tall an...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA
Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Juniperus communis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Juniperus communis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Juniperus communis
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-03-23
Research By: TWC Staff