a sprawling shrub of the cypress family is distributed throughout
the Northern Hemisphere. The main producers of juniper are Hungary
and Southern Europe, especially Italy. It had a reputation for being
a protector and friend to those in trouble. In the Middle Ages juniper
branches were hung over doors as protection against witches. Its branches
were burned to keep serpents and snakes at bay.
is an evergreen coniferous tree, prostrate or upright to 6 m. The
juvenile leaves of a juniper are needle-like, prickly and emitting
scent of apples if bruised. Mature leaves are awl-shaped, spreading,
and arranged in pairs or in whorls of three. Some species have small,
scalelike leaves, often bearing an oil gland, which are pressed closely
to the rounded or four-angled branchlets. It is a dioecious tree having
male and female reproductive structures borne on separate plants.
The male flowers are yellow and conical, the female are green and
rounded. The reddish brown or bluish cones are fleshy and berrylike
and often have a grayish, waxy covering. They mature in 1 to 3 seasons
and contain 1 to 12 seeds, usually 3.
is usually planted in autumn or spring in good, well-drained soil
in open areas. It is propagated from seeds or from cuttings.
fruit, or berry, of this species is used to flavour foods and alcoholic
beverages, particularly gin, which is named after Juniperus through
the French geni?e. Juniper berries have a fragrant, spicy aroma and
a slightly bittersweet flavour.
medicinal and other use use
with venison, they remove the gamey taste. They are also used to season
sauces and stuffings, in pickling meats, and to flavour liqueurs and
bitters.Oil of juniper, distilled from the wood and leaves of several
species, is used in perfumes and in medicines such as diuretics. Oil
from unripe berries is used in massaging rheumatic or gouty parts
of the body. Wood of stem and roots is burned to smoke preserved meats.
Galls produced by junipers as a reaction to fungal infection are known
as cedar apples.
is a powerful antiseptic and is used in insecticides and perfumes
and is believed to help blood circulation and to restore youthful
vigour to the ageing. It is used in the treatment of colic, flatulence
and rheumatism and as an antidote for snake bites.