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Juniperus communis

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Plant types and subtypes: Trees & Shrubs, Shrubs, Evergreens, Conifers

Light Requirements: sun

Water Use: low

Soil Moisture: dry

Soil Description: acid, neutral, alkaline, average, poor, loam, clay, sand, gravel/rock

Height: 1'-3'

Bloom Time: March, April

Bloom Color: yellow

Leaf Color: green, blue-green, gray-green

Hardiness Zone: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Additional Tags: attracts birds, berries, clumping, creeping, drought tolerant, dune plant, edible, evergreen, fall interest, fragrant plant, mat-forming, medicinal, mounding, ornamental foliage, rock garden plant, showy fruit

Juniperus communis (common juniper)
  • Juniperus communis (common juniper)
  • Juniperus communis (common juniper)

Pricing & Availability

Description

Juniperus communis

Also known as:

common juniper

,

ground juniper

,

juniper

Scientific Synonyms:

Description

Juniperus communis is a slow-growing, long-lived evergreen conifer. Its form is variable. It is usually considered a low growing shrub with a horizontal spread and a height under 3', but depending on location and age, can also be found as a 30' tree with an open irregular crown. The leaves are short thin needles, usually green but occasionally with a silvery sheen. The berry-like fruit are in actuality modified pine cones. They emerge green at first, ripening to bluish-purple over the course of 2 to 3 years, thus different colored berries will always be present.

Cultivation

Common juniper is a well deserved name. It is the most widely distributed tree in the northern hemisphere, and can be found in Alpine environments, on sand dunes along coastal areas, and as far north as the Arctic circle. It is adaptable to all soil types, but prefers those that are well to very well-drained, and of low fertility. Very resistant to drought, it can withstand some of the harshest conditions. It is shade intolerant and is best placed in a location with full sun. The low growing branches will have a tendency to root when they become in contact with the soil, a process known as self-layering. Blooms are insignificant and occur in March and April. An extremely cold hardy species: zones 2-7

Propagation

It is best propagated from cuttings or by layering. Seeds from young specimens have low viability. Collected seeds will need to undergo a period of cold stratification to break dormancy. Germination rates can be increased through acid scarification of the seeds, a process replicated in nature when they pass through the digestive tract of animals.

Additional Notes

Juniper berries are the primary ingredient used in flavoring gin. They are also widely used to flavor cooked foods, from meat and wild game dishes, to vegetables such as cabbage, or in the preparation of sauerkraut. The berries also have been used medicinally for their diuretic, antiseptic, aromatic and antirheumatic properties among others.

Native Range & Classification

Recorded County Distribution: USDA data

Native Range:
AL, AZ, CO, CT, DC, 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

USDA Endangered Status:

  • Endangered: MD, OH
  • Extirpated: MD
  • Rare: IN
  • Threatened: IL, KY

Classification

Kingdom Plantae Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta Seed plants
Division Coniferophyta Conifers
Class Pinopsida
Subclass
Order Pinales
Family Cupressaceae Cypress family
Genus Juniperus juniper
Species Juniperus communis common juniper