Northwest Conifers

Common Juniper – Juniperus communis Speaker

Common Juniper


USGS Distribution Map

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 feet (9 meters) in Europe.

Needles: Awl shaped, under 1" (2.5 cm), with a broad white band on the upper side. The needles grow in sets of 3 around the stem.

Cones: Berry-like, .3" (7 mm), 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. 



Juniper cones

© 2013 Ken Denniston