Juniperus communis / Common juniper

Juniperus communis, the Common juniper, is a species in the genus Juniperus, in the family Cupressaceae. It has the largest range of any woody plant, throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic south in mountains to around 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia.

Juniperus communis is a shrub or small coniferous evergreen tree, very variable and often a low spreading shrub, but occasionally reaching 10 m tall. It has needle-like leaves in whorls of three; the leaves are green, with a single white stomatal band on the inner surface. It is dioecious, with male and female cones on separate plants, which are wind pollinated.

The seed cones are berry-like, green ripening in 18 months to purple-black with a Blue waxy coating; they are spherical, 4–12 mm diameter, and usually have three (occasionally six) fused scales, each scale with a single seed. The seeds are dispersed when birds eat the cones, digesting the fleshy scales and passing the hard seeds in their droppings. The male cones are yellow, 2–3 mm long, and fall soon after shedding their pollen in March–April.

Juniperus communis Common juniper, Mt Baker, WA
Juniperis communis 'Green Carpet' cultivar photographed in Brunswick, ME, 2013
Photo by Sean Callahan
Juniperis communis 'Green Carpet' cultivar photographed in Brunswick, ME, 2013
Photo by Sean Callahan

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