We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Juniperus communis - L.

Common Name Juniper, Common juniper
Family Cupressaceae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards Although the fruit of this plant is quite often used medicinally and as a flavouring in various foods and drinks, large doses of the fruit can cause renal damage. Juniper should not be used internally in any quantities by pregnant women[65, 165]. Diarrhoea with repeated use. Avoid in kidney disease. Do not use internally for more than 6 weeks [301].
Habitats Chalk downs in S. England but only where there is least sunshine and most rain, heaths, moors, pine and birch woods in the north of Scotland on acid peat, often dominant on chalk, limestone and slate.
Range Northern temperate zone, incl Britain, south to the mountains of N. Africa, Himalayas and California
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Juniperus communis Juniper, Common juniper

Juniperus communis Juniper, Common juniper


Translate this page:


Common juniper, is a coniferous evergreen shrub or tree with the largest geographical range of any woody plant. Size is very variable from a small prostrate spreading shrub to large trees. The form Juniperus communis compress for example only grows to 0.8m. The fruit is edible used as a flavouring in sauerkraut, stuffings, vegetable pates etc, and is an essential ingredient of gin. Medicinally it has antiseptic, aromatherapy, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, rubefacient, stomachic and tonic properties. Many forms of this species are good ground cover plants for sunny situations. Forms to try include 'Depressa Aurea', 'Dumosa', 'Effusa', and 'Repanda'. Bloom Color: Brown, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Prostrate, Spreading or horizontal, Upright or erect.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Juniperus communis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 9 m (29ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 2 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Juniperus albanica. Juniperus argaea. Juniperus compressa. Juniperus kanitzii.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit  Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses: Coffee  Condiment  Tea

Fruit - raw or cooked[2, 5, 9, 15]. It is usually harvested in the autumn when fully ripe and then dried for later use[12]. A soft, mealy, sweet, resinous flesh[82]. The fruit is often used as a flavouring in sauerkraut, stuffings, vegetable pates etc, and is an essential ingredient of gin[183]. The aromatic fruit is used as a pepper substitute according to one report[183]. An essential oil is sometimes distilled from the fruit to be used as a flavouring[183]. Average yields are around 1%[7]. The cones are about 4 - 8mm in diameter and take 2 - 3 years to mature[82, 200]. Some caution is advised when using the fruit, see the notes above on toxicity. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[177]. A tea is made by boiling the leaves and stems[161]. A tea made from the berries has a spicy gin-like flavour[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiseptic  Aromatherapy  Aromatic  Carminative  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  Rubefacient  Stomachic  
Tonic  Urinary

Juniper fruits are commonly used in herbal medicine, as a household remedy, and also in some commercial preparations. They are especially useful in the treatment of digestive disorders plus kidney and bladder problems[4]. The fully ripe fruits are strongly antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, diaphoretic, strongly diuretic, rubefacient, stomachic and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 165, 240, 254]. They are used in the treatment of cystitis, digestive problems, chronic arthritis, gout and rheumatic conditions[254]. They can be eaten raw or used in a tea[222], but some caution is advised since large doses can irritate the urinary passage[4]. Externally, it is applied as a diluted essential oil, having a slightly warming effect upon the skin and is thought to promote the removal of waste products from underlying tissues[254]. It is, therefore, helpful when applied to arthritic joints etc[254]. The fruits should not be used internally by pregnant women since this can cause an abortion[9]. The fruits also increase menstrual bleeding so should not be used by women with heavy periods[254]. When made into an ointment, they are applied to exposed wounds and prevent irritation by flies[4]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Toxin elimination'[210].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Fibre  Fuel  Hair  Incense  Repellent  Resin  Strewing  Tinder

A decoction of the branches is used as an anti-dandruff shampoo[172]. The essential oil distilled from the fruits is used in perfumes with spicy fragrances[238]. In hot countries the tree yields the resin 'Sandarac' from incisions in the trunk[4, 74]. This is used in the production of a white varnish[74]. The stems were at one time used as a strewing herb to sweeten the smell of rooms[14, 244]. The whole plant can be burnt as an incense and fumigant[66, 102, 146]. It was used during epidemics in the belief that it would purify the air and cleanse it of infection[244]. Fresh or dried juniper branches also make a good insect repellent[102, 172]. Many forms of this species are good ground cover plants for sunny situations[208]. Forms to try include 'Depressa Aurea', 'Dumosa', 'Effusa', and 'Repanda'[197]. 'Prostrata' can also be used[188]. The bark is used as cordage[61] and as a tinder[172]. Wood - strong, hard, fragrant, very durable in contact with the soil and very close-grained, but usually too small to be of much use[82, 229, 244, 245]. It makes an excellent fuel[66].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Ground cover  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Specimen. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in hot dry soils and in poor soils. Succeeds in most soils so long as they are well drained[186], preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil. Does well in chalky soils[1]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Tolerates a pH range from 4 to 8[186]. Succeeds in light woodland but dislikes heavy shade[186]. Established plants are very tolerant of drought[186]. Although the fully dormant plant is cold-tolerant throughout Britain, the young growth in spring can be damaged by late frosts. All parts of the plant are very aromatic[245]. Juniper is a very polymorphic species that has a long history of culinary and medicinal use[244]. It is frequently grown in the ornamental and herb garden, there is a huge range of cultivars of widely diverse habits[11, 81]. At least some forms tolerate maritime exposure[186], there is a thriving colony in an exposed position at Land's End in Cornwall[81]. The fruits take 2 - 3 years to ripen on the plant[11]. Plants are usually very slow growing, often only a few centimetres a year[186]. Resists honey fungus[88]. Plants are sometimes attacked by a rust, this fungus has an aecidial stage on hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)[1]. Dioecious. Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. Special Features: North American native, Fragrant foliage, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration[78, 81]. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process[11]. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years[1]. Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn[1, 78]. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months[78].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Aaraar, Abhal, Betar, Borsika, Borsukafenyo, Chichia, Chui, Delinia, Dhup, Enebro, Genievre, Ginepro, Ginevro, Hab-ul-aaraar, Haubera, Haulber, Havusha, Hosha, Jadlovec, Jalovec, Jenever, Jhora, Kadakas, Pama, Petthri, Shur, Vapusha, Wacholder, Zinepro,

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Alaska, Albania, Arctic, Argentina, Asia, Australia, Balkans, Belarus, Bosnia, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Estonia, Europe, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Kurdistan, Macedonia, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, North America, Norway, Poland, SE Asia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Tasmania, Turkey, USA,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Juniperus asheiAshe Juniper, Mountain CedarTree6.0 7-9 SLMHNDM102
Juniperus californicaCalifornian Juniper, ChuperosaTree12.0 8-10 SLMHNDM212
Juniperus chinensisChinese Juniper, Sargent juniperTree15.0 4-10 SLMHNDM023
Juniperus communis nanaJuniperShrub0.5 4-10 SLMHSNDM334
Juniperus confertaShore JuniperShrub0.2 6-10 SLMHSNDM203
Juniperus deppeanaAlligator JuniperTree18.0 7-9 SLMHNDM302
Juniperus drupaceaSyrian JuniperTree15.0 6-9 MLMHNDM30 
Juniperus excelsaGrecian JuniperTree20.0 5-9  LMHNDM213
Juniperus horizontalisCreeping Juniper, Horizontal JuniperShrub1.0 4-9 MLMHNDM213
Juniperus monospermaOne-Seed JuniperTree18.0 4-8 MLMHNDM323
Juniperus occidentalisWestern JuniperTree18.0 4-8 SLMHNDM323
Juniperus osteospermaDesert Juniper, Utah juniperTree12.0 4-8 SLMHNDM223
Juniperus oxycedrusPrickly Juniper, Cade juniperTree15.0 8-10 MLMHNDM012
Juniperus recurvaHimalayan JuniperTree12.0 6-9 SLMHNM111
Juniperus rigidaTemple Juniper, Needle JuniperTree8.0 6-7 SLMHNDM213
Juniperus sabinaSavine, Tam JuniperShrub4.0 4-7 SLMHNDM024
Juniperus scopulorumRocky Mountain Juniper, Weeping Rocky Mountian Juniper, Colorado Red CedarTree10.0 3-7 SLMHNDM324
Juniperus silicicolaSouthern Redcedar, Juniper, Southern Red CedarTree20.0 7-10 SLMHNDM223
Juniperus squamataFlaky JuniperShrub4.0 4-7 SLMHNDM013
Juniperus tetragona Tree0.0 7-10  LMHNDM202
Juniperus virginianaPencil Cedar, Eastern redcedar, Southern redcedar, Silver Cedar, Burk Eastern Red Cedar, Silver EastTree20.0 3-9 SLMHNDM224

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Juniperus communis  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.