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Toxic parts

Although the fruit of this plant is quite often used medicinally and as a flavouring in various foods and drinks, large doses of the fruit can cause renal damage. Juniper should not be used internally in any quantities by pregnant women[1][2].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[3][4][5][6]. It is usually harvested in the autumn when fully ripe and then dried for later use[7]. A soft, mealy, sweet, resinous flesh[8]. The fruit is often used as a flavouring in sauerkraut, stuffings, vegetable pates etc, and is an essential ingredient of gin[9]. The aromatic fruit is used as a pepper substitute according to one report[9]. An essential oil is sometimes distilled from the fruit to be used as a flavouring[9]. Average yields are around 1%[10]. The cones are about 4 - 8mm in diameter and take 2 - 3 years to mature[8][11]. Some caution is advised when using the fruit, see the notes above on toxicity.

The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[12].

A tea is made by boiling the leaves and stems[13]. A tea made from the berries has a spicy gin-like flavour[9].

Unknown part


Material uses

A decoction of the branches is used as an anti-dandruff shampoo[14].

The essential oil distilled from the fruits is used in perfumes with spicy fragrances[15]. In hot countries the tree yields the resin 'Sandarac' from incisions in the trunk[16][17]. This is used in the production of a white varnish[17]. The stems were at one time used as a strewing herb to sweeten the smell of rooms[18][19]. The whole plant can be burnt as an incense and fumigant[20][21][22]. It was used during epidemics in the belief that it would purify the air and cleanse it of infection[19]. Fresh or dried juniper branches also make a good insect repellent[21][14]. Many forms of this species are good ground cover plants for sunny situations[23]. Forms to try include 'Depressa Aurea', 'Dumosa', 'Effusa', and 'Repanda'[24]. 'Prostrata' can also be used[25]. The bark is used as cordage[26] and as a tinder[14].

Wood - strong, hard, fragrant, very durable in contact with the soil and very close-grained, but usually too small to be of much use[8][27][19][28]. It makes an excellent fuel[20].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Juniper fruits are commonly used in herbal medicine, as a household remedy, and also in some commercial preparations. They are especially useful in the treatment of digestive disorders plus kidney and bladder problems[16].

The fully ripe fruits are strongly antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, strongly diuretic, rubefacient, stomachic and tonic[16][10][5][29][30][2][31][32]. They are used in the treatment of cystitis, digestive problems, chronic arthritis, gout and rheumatic conditions[32]. They can be eaten raw or used in a tea[33], but some caution is advised since large doses can irritate the urinary passage[16]. Externally, it is applied as a diluted essential oil, having a slightly warming effect upon the skin and is thought to promote the removal of waste products from underlying tissues[32]. It is, therefore, helpful when applied to arthritic joints etc[32]. The fruits should not be used internally by pregnant women since this can cause an abortion[5]. The fruits also increase menstrual bleeding so should not be used by women with heavy periods[32]. When made into an ointment, they are applied to exposed wounds and prevent irritation by flies[16].

The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Toxin elimination'[34].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Secondary canopy or Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration[35][36]. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process[37]. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years[38].

Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn[38][35].

Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[35].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Juniperus communis. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


An easily grown plant, it succeeds in hot dry soils and in poor soils. Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well drained[39], preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Does well in chalky soils[38]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates a pH range from 4 to 8[39]. Succeeds in light woodland but dislikes heavy shade[39]. Established plants are very tolerant of drought[39].

Although the fully dormant plant is cold-tolerant throughout Britain, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. All parts of the plant are very aromatic[28]. Juniper is a very polymorphic species that has a long history of culinary and medicinal use[19]. It is frequently grown in the ornamental and herb garden, there is a huge range of cultivars of widely diverse habits[37][36]. At least some forms tolerate maritime exposure[39], there is a thriving colony in an exposed position at Land's End in Cornwall[36]. The fruits take 2 - 3 years to ripen on the plant[37]. Plants are usually very slow growing, often only a few centimetres a year[39]. Resists honey fungus[40]. Plants are sometimes attacked by a rust, this fungus has an aecidial stage on hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)[38].

Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Juniperus communis. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Juniperus communis.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Juniperus communis
Imported References
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Drought
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
9 x 4 meters
Flower Colour
Flower Type

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  1. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
  2. ? Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
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  38. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
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  40. ? RHS. The Garden. Volume 112. Royal Horticultural Society (1987-00-00)
  41. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

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Facts about "Juniperus communis"RDF feed
Article is incompleteYes +
Article requires citationsNo +
Article requires cleanupYes +
Belongs to familyCupressaceae +
Belongs to genusJuniperus +
Functions asGround cover +
Has common nameJuniper +
Has drought toleranceTolerant +
Has edible partUnknown part + and Fruit +
Has edible useCoffee substitute +, Seasoning +, Unknown use + and Tea +
Has environmental toleranceMaritime exposure +, High wind + and Drought +
Has fertility typeSelf sterile + and Wind +
Has flowers of typeDioecious +
Has growth rateSlow +
Has hardiness zone2 +
Has imageGinebre03.jpg +
Has lifecycle typePerennial +
Has material partUnknown part +
Has material useFibre +, Fuel +, Hair care +, Incense +, Repellent +, Resin +, Strewing + and Tinder +
Has mature height9 +
Has mature width4 +
Has medicinal partUnknown part +
Has medicinal useAntiseptic +, Aromatherapy +, Aromatic +, Carminative +, Diaphoretic +, Diuretic +, Rubefacient +, Stomachic + and Tonic +
Has primary imageGinebre03.jpg +
Has search namejuniperus communis + and x +
Has shade toleranceLight shade +
Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
Has soil teclayture preferenceClay +
Has soil teheavy clayture preferenceHeavy clay +
Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
Has sun preferenceFull sun +
Has taxonomy nameJuniperus communis +
Has water requirementsmoderate +
Inhabits ecosystem nicheSecondary canopy + and Soil surface +
Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
Tolerates maritime exposureYes +
Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
Tolerates windYes +
Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +