Juniperus communis or juniper: species in the garden

Juniper – (Juniperus communis)

Juniper is a special tree, which also occurs as a shrub. It is the most common conifer in the world, in the Netherlands is protected. He is a columnar tree or a low-growing bush or creeping growth. The columnar tree is also called “Cypress of the North ‘. Seasons has the evergreen juniper only during its flowering in May

branches with berries


The word is derived from the juniper Latin juvis, younger. Parry does appear, manifest. This has to do with the phenomenon that the new berries appear before the old ones are eliminated. Juniperus name was already used by the Romans. The German word comes from the Oudgermaanse Wacholder wachal = fresh, evergreen. In German-speaking people come from about 150 different names. Some names associated with the use together. In Pomerania (East Germany) is called Kniste or Knastebusch, what to do with the sound of burning branches.

The juniper tree is also called sentinel, oracle berries, wachelbeer, and januverboom pekke mentioned. Old names are krammetboom, mach rade, Lambers.

Gin comes from juniper. The Dutch juniper makes a special flavor and aroma to the Dutch gin.

female flowers

Plant Characteristics

Juniper, sometimes tree, sometimes shrub, often whimsical forms. The crown is so dense that almost no light falls. Thus we see him at a distance as dark silhouettes. People have seen it often superhuman shapes, especially in foggy weather or at dusk on the heath. Juniper is one of three native pine species in the Netherlands. The shrub or tree has many branches. The sharp, awl-shaped needles are in whorls of three around the branches. They are blue-green on top, the bottom sapgroen.

Juniper blooms in April / May and is dioecious, ie male and female flowers on a plant does not occur. Both flowers appear in May The male flowers are yellow, female green. They are very striking. The pollen is carried by the wind.

The ripening of the berries stretches over two years. The female seed scales are blue-black in the first year (apparent) berries. Only after hibernation, they take a dark color, which is a wax with a light dew effect. The seeds are weak triangular, light brown with a hard shell.

The bark is gray-to red-brown, thin, quite smooth and loose leaves in older plants in the form of long, fluffy flakes.

Juniper grows slowly because it represents many lateral branches. Trees reach 10 years only a height of 1 m. In the end, he was 10 meters tall. He can, under favorable conditions from 500 to 2000 years.

male flowers


Juniper occurs in the Netherlands on poor sand drifts – and heathland, but also throughout Europe from the coast of the ice lake to the south of Spain, Sicily, Greece and the Atlas Mountains in North Africa. One finds it also in the south of Greenland and North America. In the Alps it grows to a height of 1600 m. It has open spaces needed for its growth as sand – rocks -, debris and moorlands. It grows well in light pine and oak forests. On the heath, he is for his stinging needles shunned by the sheep.

Juniper is important for a number of insects such as beetles juniper, jeneverbesmot and the bark beetle. The male flowers are suppliers pollen to bees.

Juniperus var. Montana


The highly variable juniper in several subspecies distributed. For us, the best known Juniperus communis. A subspecies of this is the Juniperus communis ‘Hibernica’, which is also suitable for heather gardens. He can best be planted as specimen. In the Alps growing Juniperus alpina, a dwarf shrub with horizontal branches and usually not stinging needles. In rock gardens, we sometimes Juniperus sabina, a low growing form.

Juniperus phoenicea is a shrub or small tree with a compact, broad crown.


Juniper does not need to be pruned. By removing the side branches arise bald spots that never heal up. Under a heavy snow outside branches to sag and then that’s never good. So shake off snow!

Juniperus flaccida

Location in the garden

Juniper likes a dry humus poor but mineral rich soil. Loam soil is therefore ideal. He has a lot of sun needed to maturing berries to come. In winter he is good frost, summer drought. He is beautiful with pine, birch, heather, gorse, rowan, wild roses, torches, carnations, thyme and grasses. It is also suitable for hedges. Transplanting not tolerate it.

old juniper


The berries contain about 1% juniper oil as a flavoring is added to alcoholic beverages. The wood is soft, but tough, elastic, difficult to split and has a long life. Insects do not like. It smells aromatic camphor. The core is reddish brown and yellowish sapwood. Pencils Juniperus virginiana often manufactured, have a special cedar scent. The juniper wood is for fine carving, turners -, furniture – and inlays are used. Wood was one of the toughest old fence posts, wooden buckets, pipes, canes and whips. The wood is still used for smoking sausages, meat and fish so get a unique flavor.

The branches were used for weaving baskets and wreaths.

The wood can be extracted essential oil. Of jeneverbesgom mixed with linseed oil varnish for paintings they made earlier.

Legacy applications are smoking out of buildings after a plague, making magic cups of thick branches.

The berries used in cooking and one for venison, sauerkraut, pickles and red beet, and herbs for the production of brandy. In the berries is next to oil 30% sugar. After fermentation, they are distilled for gin, gin or Steinhäger. They are very strong alcoholic drinks!

In the Middle Ages, the juniper is one of the most important plants in medicine. The harvest of the berries was extremely difficult because the icicles stabbing needles.

All parts of juniper have medicinal properties. The berries are used to treat stomach, dropsy and as an antiseptic.

In today’s homeopathic preparations are being made to treat kidney ailments, skin diseases, rheumatism and gout.

Juniperus Hibernica

Mythology and folk use

The Celts were juniper to Balder, the god of innocence and light, with the Greeks to Hermes, the messenger of the gods ordained. This has to do with the appearance of the evergreen tree, the pleasant smell of wood, leaves and fruits. The Germans used the wood for the burning of dead and sacrificial rituals. We know this because there is a Germanic urnfield behind Vlodrop (Limburg) of juniper charcoal was found.

According to people of ancient times lived a good spirit in the juniper tree. Why should it not be cut.

In many regions, the statue garlanded with juniper twigs. According to an ancient legend, Mary, fleeing the soldiers of Herod, the branches Ven a juniper tree sheltered.

A drink from juniper protects against evil influences and make invisible. You could also change into a juniper bush poked so that everyone stayed away from it. All the tiredness disappears when one is under a juniper bush puts to rest.

Icelandic juniper

When on the German island of Rügen a house built, they stopped a jenevertak in the foundation so the devil at bay. In old German half-timbered houses still finds gin needles under the floor, intended to protect against mice.

Juniperus communis (botanical name)
Cupressaceae – cipresfamilie

Common juniper (English)
Genévrier, Savin, Sabine (French)
Wacholder, Mach Andel (German)

This entry was posted in Trees and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s