Northwest Conifers


Common Juniper – Juniperus communis

Common Juniper grows as a low spreading shrub in the Northwest. Growing throughout the northern hemisphere, it is the most widely distributed conifer in the world. It can grow to 30 ft. in Europe.

Common juniper

Needles: Awl shaped, under 1", with a broad white band on the upper side. The needles grow in sets of 3 around the stem.


Cones: Berry-like, .3", turning blue with white bloom when ripe. Each cone has 3 scales and 3 seeds, and they ripen in 3 years. Male and female cones grow on separate plants.


Bark: Brown, with flaky strips on larger branches.

Where it grows: In the Northwest, mostly near the timberline in open, rocky areas. 


USGS Distribution Map

Uses: Birds eat the berries and distribute the seeds. The berries are mildly toxic but are used to flavor gin. They also have had various medicinal uses. 

© 2013 Ken Denniston