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Juniperus osteosperma in Nevada
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus

See text

Junipers are coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus (pronounced /dʒuːˈnɪpərəs/)[1] of the cypress family Cupressaceae. Depending on taxonomic viewpoint, there are between 50-67 species of juniper, widely distributed throughout the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic, south to tropical Africa in the Old World, and to the mountains of Central America.



Cones and leaves of Juniperus communis

Junipers vary in size and shape from tall trees, 20-40 m tall, to columnar or low spreading shrubs with long trailing branches. They are evergreen with needle-like and/or scale-like leaves. They can be either monoecious or dioecious. The female seed cones are very distinctive, with fleshy, fruit-like coalescing scales which fuse together to form a "berry"-like structure, 4-27 mm long, with 1-12 unwinged, hard-shelled seeds. In some species these "berries" are red-brown or orange but in most they are blue; they are often aromatic and can be used as a spice. The seed maturation time varies between species from 6–18 months after pollination. The male cones are similar to those of other Cupressaceae, with 6-20 scales; most shed their pollen in early spring, but some species pollinate in the autumn.

Detail of Juniperus chinensis shoots, with juvenile (needle-like) leaves (left), and adult scale leaves and immature male cones (right)

Many junipers (e.g. J. chinensis, J. virginiana) have two types of leaves: seedlings and some twigs of older trees have needle-like leaves 5-25 mm long; and the leaves on mature plants are (mostly) tiny (2-4 mm long), overlapping and scale-like. When juvenile foliage occurs on mature plants, it is most often found on shaded shoots, with adult foliage in full sunlight. Leaves on fast-growing 'whip' shoots are often intermediate between juvenile and adult.

In some species (e. g. J. communis, J. squamata), all the foliage is of the juvenile needle-like type, with no scale leaves. In some of these (e.g. J. communis), the needles are jointed at the base, in others (e.g. J. squamata), the needles merge smoothly with the stem, not jointed.

The needle-leaves of junipers are hard and sharp, making the juvenile foliage very prickly to handle. This can be a valuable identification feature in seedlings, as the otherwise very similar juvenile foliage of cypresses (Cupressus, Chamaecyparis) and other related genera is soft and not prickly.

Juniper is the exclusive food plant of the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Bucculatrix inusitata and Juniper Carpet and is also eaten by the larvae of other Lepidoptera species such as Chionodes electella, Chionodes viduella, Juniper Pug and Pine Beauty.


The number of juniper species is in dispute, with two recent studies giving very different totals, Farjon (2001) accepting 52 species, and Adams (2004) accepting 67 species. The junipers are divided into several sections, though (particularly among the scale-leaved species) which species belong to which sections is still far from clear, with research still on-going. The section Juniperus is an obvious monophyletic group though.

Juniper needles, magnified. Left, Juniperus communis (Juniperus sect. Juniperus; note needles 'jointed' at base). Right, Juniperus chinensis (Juniperus sect. Sabina; note needles merging smoothly with the stem, not jointed at base).
An Eastern Juniper in October laden with ripe cones.
Cones and seeds.
Juniperus occidentalis var. australis, eastern Sierra Nevada, Rock Creek Canyon, California.

Cultivation and uses

Juniper berries are a spice used in a wide variety of culinary dishes and best known for the primary flavoring in gin (and responsible for gin's name, which is a shortening of the Dutch word for juniper, genever). Juniper berries are also used as the primary flavor in the liquor Jenever and sahti-style of beers. Juniper berry sauce is often a popular flavoring choice for quail, pheasant, veal, rabbit, venison and other meat dishes.

Many of the earliest prehistoric people lived in or near juniper forests which furnished them food, fuel, and wood for shelter or utensils. Many species, such as J. chinensis (Chinese Juniper) from eastern Asia, are extensively used in landscaping and horticulture, and as one of the most popular species for use in bonsai. It is also a symbol of longevity, strength, athleticism, and fertility.

Some junipers are susceptible to Gymnosporangium rust disease, and can be a serious problem for those people growing apple trees, the alternate host of the disease.

Some juniper trees are misleadingly given the common name "cedar," including Juniperus virginiana, the "red cedar" that is used widely in cedar drawers. True cedars are those tree species in the genus Cedrus, family Pinaceae.

Juniper berries have long been used as medicine by many cultures. Juniper berries were used by native Americans as a herbal remedy for urinary tract infections. Native Americans have also used juniper to treat diabetes; such treatments by the Navajo, for example, are under clinical study[2]. Clinical studies have shown that treatment with juniper may retard the development of streptozotocin diabetes in mice.[3] Native Americans also used juniper berries as a female contraceptive.[4] The 17th Century herbalist physician Nicholas Culpeper recommended the ripened berries for conditions such as asthma and sciatica, as well as to speed childbirth.[5]

Juniper berries are steam distilled to produce an essential oil that may vary from colorless to yellow or pale green. Some of its chemical components are alpha pinene, cadinene, camphene and terpineol.


  1. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  2. ^ .; McCabe, M.D., Melvina; Gohdes, M.D., Dorothy; Morgan, B.S., Frank; Eakin, M.A., Joanne; Sanders, Ph.D., Margaret; Schmitt, M.S., Cheryl (2005), "Herbal Therapies and Diabetes Among Navajo Indians", Diabetes Care 28 (6): 1534–1535, doi:10.2337/diacare.28.6.1534-a,, retrieved 2009-12-28  
  3. ^ Swanston-Flatt, S. K.; Day, C.; Bailey, C. J.; Flatt, P. R. (1990), "Traditional plant treatments for diabetes. Studies in normal and streptozotocin diabetic mice", Diabetologia 33 (8): 462–464, doi:10.1007/BF00405106,, retrieved 2009-12-28  
  4. ^ Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, ISBN 0-87842-359-1
  5. ^ Culpeper's Complete Herbal, Nicholas Culpeper, ISBN 1-85007-026-1
  • Adams, R. P. (2004). Junipers of the World: The genus Juniperus. Victoria: Trafford. ISBN 1-4120-4250-X
  • Farjon, A. (2001). World Checklist and Bibliography of Conifers. Kew. ISBN 1-84246-025-0
  • Farjon, A. (2005). Monograph of Cupressaceae and Sciadopitys. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. ISBN 1-84246-068-4

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Juniper is a village in New Brunswick, Canada.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JUNIPER. The junipers, of which there are twenty-five or more species, are evergreen bushy shrubs or low columnar trees, with a more or less aromatic odour, inhabiting the whole of the cold and temperate northern hemisphere, but attaining their maximum development in the Mediterranean region, the North Atlantic islands, and the eastern United States. The leaves are usually articulated at the base, spreading, sharp-pointed and needle-like in form, destitute of oil-glands, and arranged in alternating whorls of three; but in some the leaves are minute and scale-like, closely adhering to the branches, the apex only being free, and furnished with an oil-gland on the back.

Sometimes the same plant produces both kinds of leaves on different branches, or the young plants produce acicular leaves, while those of the older plants are squamiform. The male and female flowers are usually produced on separate plants. The male flowers are developed at the ends of short lateral branches, are rounded or oblong in form, and consist of several antheriferous scales in two or three rows, each scale bearing three or six almost spherical pollen-sacs on its under side. The female flower is a small bud-like cone situated at the apex of a small branch, and consists of two or three whorls of two or three scales. The scales of the upper or middle series each bear one or two erect ovules. The mature cone is fleshy, with the succulent scales fused together and forming the fruit-like structure known to the older botanists as the galbulus, or berry of the juniper. The berries are red or purple in colour, varying in size from that of a pea to a nut. They thus differ considerably from the cones of other members of the order Coniferae, of Gymnosperms, to which the junipers belong. The seeds are usually three in number, sometimes fewer (1), rarely more (8), and have the surface near the middle or base marked with large glands containing oil. The genus occurs in a fossil state, four species having been described from rocks of Tertiary age.

The genus is divided into three sections, Sabina, Oxycedrus and Caryocedrus. Juniperus Sabina is the savin, abundant on the mountains of central Europe, an irregularly spreading muchbranched shrub with scale-like glandular leaves, and emitting a disagreeable odour when bruised. The plant is poisonous, acting as a powerful local and general stimulant, diaphoretic, emmenagogue and anthelmintic; it was formerly employed both internally and externally. The oil of savin is now occasionally used criminally as an abortifacient. J. bermudiana, a tree about 40 or 50 ft. in height, yields a fragrant red wood, which was used for the manufacture of "cedar" pencils. The tree is now very scarce in Bermuda, and the "red cedar," J. virginiana, of North America is employed instead for pencils and cigar-boxes. The red cedar is abundant in some parts of the United States and in Virginia is a tree 50 ft. in height. It is very widely distributed from the Great Lakes to Florida and round the Gulf of Mexico, and extends as far west as the Rocky Mountains and beyond to Vancouver Island. The wood is applied to many uses in the United States. The fine red fragrant heart-wood takes a high polish, and is much used in cabinet-work and inlaying, but the small size of the planks prevents its more extended use. The galls produced at the ends of the branches have been used in medicine, and the wood yields cedar-camphor and oil of cedar-wood. J. thurifera is the incense juniper of Spain and Portugal, and J. phoenicea (J. lycia) from the Mediterranean district is stated by Loudon to be burned as incense.

J. communis, the common juniper (see fig.), and several other species, belong to the section Oxycedrus. The common juniper is a very widely distributed plant, occurring in the whole of northern Europe, central and northern Asia to Kamchatka, and east and west North America. It grows at considerable elevations in southern Europe, in the Alps, Apennines, Pyrenees and Sierra Nevada (4000 to 8000 ft.). It also grows in Asia Minor, Persia, and at great elevations on the Himalayas. In Great Britain it is usually a shrub with spreading branches, less frequently a low tree. In former times the juniper seems to have been a very well-known plant, the name occurring almost unaltered in many languages. The Lat. juniperus, probably formed from juni - crude form of juvenis, fresh, young, and parere, to produce, is represented by Fr. genievre, Sp. enebro, Ital. ginepito, &c. The dialectical names, chiefly in European languages, were collected by Prince L. L. Bonaparte, and published in the Academy (July 17, 1880, No. 428, p. 45). The common juniper is official in the British pharmacopoeia and in that of the United States, yielding the oil of juniper, a powerful diuretic, distilled from the unripe fruits. This oil is closely allied in composition to oil of turpentine and is given in doses of a half to three minims. The Spiritus juniperi of the British pharma copoeia is given in doses up to one drachm. Much safer and more powerful diuretics are now in use. The wood is very aromatic and is used for ornamental purposes. In Lapland the bark is made into ropes. The fruits are used for flavouring girl (a name derived from juniper, through Fr. genievre); and in some parts of France a kind of beer called genevrette was made from them by the peasants. J. Oxycedrus, from the Mediterranean district and Madeira, yields cedar-oil which is official in most of the European pharmacopoeias, but not in that of Britain. This oil is largely used by microscopists in what is known as the "oil-immersion lens." The third section, Caryocedrus, consists of a single species, J. drupacea of Asia Minor. The fruits are large and edible: they are known in the East by the name habhel. (From Bentley and Trimen's Medicinal Plants, by permission of J. & A. Churchill.) Juniper (Juniperus communis) half nat. size.

1. Vertical section of fruit.

2. Male catkin.

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Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

(Heb. rothem), called by the Arabs retem, and known as Spanish broom; ranked under the genus genista. It is a desert shrub, and abounds in many parts of Palestine. In the account of his journey from Akabah to Jerusalem, Dr. Robinson says: "This is the largest and most conspicuous shrub of these deserts, growing thickly in the water-courses and valleys. Our Arabs always selected the place of encampment, if possible, in a spot where it grew, in order to be sheltered by it at night from the wind; and during the day, when they often went on in advance of the camels, we found them not unfrequently sitting or sleeping under a bush of retem to shelter them from the sun. It was in this very desert, a day's journey from Beersheba, that the prophet Elijah lay down and slept beneath the same shrub" (1 Kg 19:4, 5). It afforded material for fuel, and also in cases of extremity for human food (Ps 1204; Job 30:4). One of the encampments in the wilderness of Paran is called Rithmah, i.e., "place of broom" (Num 33:18).

"The Bedawin of Sinai still burn this very plant into a charcoal which throws out the most intense heat."

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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This article needs to be merged with JUNIPER (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Simple English

File:Juniperus osteosperma
Juniperus osteosperma in Nevada
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Pinophyta
Class: Pinopsida
Order: Pinales
Family: Cupressaceae
Genus: Juniperus

Junipers is the name for a number of species of coniferous plants in the genus Juniperus. They are related to the family Cupressaceae (the cypress). There are between 50 and 67 species of juniper. Junipers grow in the northern hemisphere.

Junipers are evergreen. They vary in size from low shrubs to tall trees, which grow to between twenty and forty metres tall. The female trees have seed cones which form something resembling a berry. These berries are called juniper berries. They take from six to eighteen months to grow, after pollination, are often aromatic and can be used as a spice.


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