All About Juniper – Trees and Berries

The Juniper (trees and shrubs) fall within the cypress (Cupressaceae) family and there are, in the neighborhood of 60 different species.

I am certainly not going to go over them all, but will name a couple of the most common ones.

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The most common species of Juniper is the Common Juniper (Juniperus communis). Yes, that is it’s name and for a pretty good reason. It is found throughout much of the world. Generally in zones 3 to 8. It grows well in both acidic and alkaline soil and adapts to a variety of locations. Depending on it’s environment it may be a low growing shrub to a small upright tree.

The “Common” Juniper is called by a variety of other names. A few of these are – creeping juniper, ground juniper, mountain juniper and dwarf juniper.

DYK? Several species of Junipers produce male or female parts — but not both. Generally — it is the female plants that produce berries.

Another fairly common species is the Rocky Mountain Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), which is a very close relative of the Eastern Red Cedar. AKA: Mountain red cedar, Rocky Mountain cedar, or Colorada red cedar.


Utah has its very own Juniper.. It is called the Utah Juniper.

The Western Juniper resides in the mountains of California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington.

The berries are used for flavoring in Gin and the name gin is a shortened form of a Dutch word for juniper/jenever. The berries are fermented to create a sort of “wine.” This “wine” is then distilled. In parts of Europe you may find it sold as a juniper brandy.

Juniper Berries


The berries are used as a spice in a variety of recipes. Most notable are game birds, venison and rabbit recipes.

The berries are considered to be antioxidant and a natural antiseptic. They may improve digest, help with restful sleep and are heart healthy. Often used to improve kidney and urinary health. It might also relieve cramps and aid in fighting arthritis.

You may find juniper berries in some health food stores. Probably in the spice section. You might find fresh juniper berries but more than likely they will be dried. Some people find them a favorite to flavor meat dishes.

Juniper Essential Oil

Juniper essential oil will have a sweet woodsy smell and is most commonly used in a variety of natural remedies for respiratory infections, arthritis, sore throat and to boost the immune system. It may also fight fatigue and soothe skin irritations.

Smudging with Juniper

Juniper is a great choice for smudging and is often used to replace cedar. Actually, juniper is often mistaken for cedar. More often than not, it’s juniper rather than “true” cedar.

When smudging –– Juniper is thought to follow the removal of negative energy by creating a positive, healing and protective space. Combining Juniper with sage or sweetgrass can be a well balanced smudging experience.

You might find it combined in a smudge stick or you may want to add when making your own smudge stick. Or… add a drop of Juniper essential oil to your smudge stick. You can also use juniper essential oil in the defuser.

I love the smell of Juniper and defuse it our home often. I especially like to mix it with sage.


Among many different Native American tribes the Juniper is associated with protection.

Some tribes use it to run off evil spirits. Many of the plains tribes, to keep their homes safe from storms, would burn Juniper in the campfire or hang boughs from their teepee.

Hunters might carry a sprig of juniper as a protective charm. They may rub the branch on their skin before a dangerous journey. It was thought that, in doing so, they would be protected from general bad luck.

Juniper was often used as an addition to a medicine bundle.

In the store………

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Disclaimer This article is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide or replace medical advice. Neither the author nor OnlyToday website takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information within this article. NOTE: Always do your research for any possible side effects or interactions.

4 thoughts on “All About Juniper – Trees and Berries

  1. Amazing how versitile this shrub is. Great post!

  2. I have two large junipers in my yard that I am sure are going to get torn up with they reside my house this summer. Does juniper grow from a slip?

    • I don’t know.. might need to take some of the root and try that (if they dig it up)..

  3. Juniper is a very popular northern food ingredient-we use juniper berries in our venison stew recipe. Thanks for the informative post!

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