Northwest Conifers

Common Juniper – Juniperus communis Speaker

Common Juniper


USGS Distribution Map

Needles:  Awl shaped, under 1"

Cones:  Berry-like, .3"

Bark: Brown

Where: Alpine areas


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. 



Juniper Cones

© 2013 Ken Denniston