Juniperus communis

Family: Cupressaceae

Countries: Afghanistan, Africa, Albania, Algeria, Americas, Asia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Central America, Corsica, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Europe, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Greenland, Himalayas, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Middle East, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, North America, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Sardegna, Scotland, Sicily, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tadzhikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, Wales, Yugoslavia

Juniper is also known by its botanical name, Juniperus communisJuniperus communis is an evergreen conifer with spiky needles.  Plants are very hardy and they flourish in exposed and sheltered locations.  These plants need a bright and sunny position; Juniperus communis is happy growing in almost any moist but well-drained soil, including stony ground and chalk.  When choosing where to plant Juniperus communis, avoid shaded areas and soils that are prone to water-logging.  These plants need free-draining soils and they like a bit of space around them and don’t want too much competition from neighbouring plants.

Juniperus communis are probably the most widespread conifers, they’re native trees and shrubs of the UK and many other countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.  Juniperus communis fruit, often known as berries, are used to flavour gins and various alcoholic beverages; the berries are also used in sauces and to enhance culinary dishes.  As gin has surged in popularity in recent years, Juniperus communis has come to more prominence; however, the number of Juniperus communis trees and shrubs in our wild and cultivated landscape is declining.  Why not help address this balance – plant Juniperus communis in your garden?  If we grow more Juniperus communis plants from seed, we can increase their genetic diversity; this is a wonderful thing to do!  If you’re growing Juniperus communis from seed, please do remember that these seeds have a prolonged dormancy period and won’t germinate for a couple of years.  I’d encourage you to grow this plant from seed or to plant Juniperus communis in your garden.

Juniperus communis trees and shrubs vary in their habit from plant to plant, there are specimens that naturally form low-growing, bushy shrubs, whilst other plants become upright trees.  Some Juniperus communis trees will eventually reach 9m (30ft) tall but this height is only attained by some specimens after many years of growth; other plants will naturally develop a more prostrate habit and form spreading shrubs.

These plants are dioecious: the plants are either male or female – male plants produce pollen cones and female plants produce seed cones – only female Juniperus communis plants bear fruit.  The fruit ripen over a year or two and change colour as they ripen from green to a purplish blue-black colour.

As Juniperus communis is a native tree it has immense value to wildlife.  In the UK, 42 insect species live and feed on Juniperus communis; these insects are totally reliant on Juniperus communis plants for their own survival.  Birds and other wildlife feast upon Juniperus communis berries.  These trees are beneficial for birds, as not only do birds nest in Juniperus communis trees, but birds and other wildlife also predate on the insects that are attracted to Juniperus communis.

Juniperus communis doesn’t require any pruning, making this a low-maintenance tree or shrub.

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