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.
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.
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