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Common Juniper Juniperus communis


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Alternate name: Pasture Juniper

Family: Cupressaceae, Cypress view all from this family

Description Native evergreen shrub, most often growing as a low, decumbent mat, occasionally tree-like. Crown open, irregular. Bark reddish brown, shedding thin strips. Branches spreading, ascending. Needles in green whorls of three; single white stomatal band on the inner surface. Dioecious; male and female cones on separate plants, wind pollinated. Cones berry-like, green ripening to purple-black with blue waxy coating; spherical, 4–12 mm diameter, 3-6 fused scales, each scale with a single seed. Male cones yellow, 2–3 mm long, falling soon after shedding pollen in March–April.

Dimensions Height: 0.3-1.2 m (1-4 ft), rarely 4.6-7.6 m. (15-25 ft)
Trunk diameter: to 20 cm. (8 in).

Warning Berries poisonous if eaten in large quantities. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a personís age, weight, physical condition, and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. Toxicity can vary in a plant according to season, the plantís different parts, and its stage of growth; and plants can absorb toxic substances, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants from the water, air, and soil.

Habitat Grasslands & prairies, Mountains.

Range Plains, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, California, Southeast, New England, Northwest, Southwest, Great Lakes, Alaska.

Discussion Most widely distributed native conifer in the world. Used as medicine by many cultures. Cones are used to flavor gin.