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Juniper
shopping: all 3 varieties
Juniperus communis

juniper

plant overview
the berry with smoky flavor

Juniper berries are harvested from an evergreen tree in the cypress family found throughout temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Although juniper has little lumber value due to its size, its wood is used in northern European countries to construct boxes to house aging cheese. Juniper wood is also used as incense and to smoke meats and cheeses. The berries, which are not berries at all but cones, are used to flavor game meats, breads, sauces and liquors. Juniper berries were once used to flavor Scottish whiskey, and are still used in gin, Swedish beer and a French hops-based beverage called genevrette.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.
Juniper berry
01.
Juniper: Where in the World
habitat and range for juniper

Juniperus communis has the largest range of any woody plant. It grows throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic south in mountains to around 30°N latitude in North America, Europe and Asia (roughly North Texas in the US).

02.
A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on juniper

description
Juniperus communis, a member of the Cupressaceae family, 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, meaning male and female cones grow 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. Seeds are dispersed by birds eating 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.

common names & nomenclature
The common name, juniper, is from Latin iuniperus. The species name communis refers to the common distribution of this plant.

Also known as:
common juniper, juniper, genévrier, ginepro, enebro, gemeiner wachholder

03.
Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting juniper

climate
Succeeds in light woodland but dislikes heavy shade. Established plants are very tolerant of drought. It is frequently grown in as an ornamental and in herb gardens.

soil
Juniper grows easily and succeeds in hot dry soils and in poor soils. Though it prefers a neutral or slightly alkaline soil juniper grows well in most soils so long as they are well drained. It also does well in chalky or heavy clay soils.

growing
Male and female plants must be grown if seed is required. The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seed coat 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. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame.

harvesting
Juniper berries (technically cones, not true berries) will take two or three years to ripen, so that blue and green berries occur on the same plant. Only the blue, ripe berries are picked. When collected, they are laid out to dry on shelves. During the drying process they lose some of the blue bloom and the juniper berries develop their more typical blackish color.

preserving
Whole dried juniper berries and powdered dried juniper berries, should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

04.
The Rest of the Story
juniper history, folklore, literature & more

juniper berries for fluid retention
Juniper berries have long been used in herbal medicine for problems such as stomach pain and urinary disorders. It was once thought to be the best cure for snakebites and was thought to ward off the plague by ancient people. Today, juniper berries aren’t quite used to the same extent. However, they do have a place in modern herbal medicine.

The berries of the juniper plant contain chemicals called flavonoids, tannins, and a volatile oil. These are the ingredients that are considered the most important and the cause for its ability to heal specific problems.

Juniper berries are most often used as a diuretic. They work so well because the chemicals in the berries actually irritate the kidneys. This causes them to produce more urine and as a result, more fluid is taken off of the body.

The juniper berries are usually prescribed by herbalists for kidney problems such as cystitis. They’re also used for edema—unless the edema is caused by a lack of kidney function. In that case, juniper berries would only make the situation worse. In very small doses, you can also use juniper berry to stimulate your appetite. This is good for someone who’s fighting an illness that’s causing loss of appetite.

If you’re interested in using juniper berries as a part of your routine, you’ll want to find them dried, crushed, or powdered. This form of the berries can be used for infusions, tinctures, and decoctions. You can also find juniper berries in capsules and tablets. In addition, juniper oil can be purchased. However, the oil can cause your skin to blister if applied directly to it. Make sure you don’t touch it at full strength.

Juniper berries can also be used in cooking. Most people find them too bitter to eat raw, but you may find that you enjoy them that way as well. They’re dark blue berries that grow all over the world in Europe, Asia, and North America.

Taking juniper berry for too long can cause kidney problems, so it’s important to use it for short-term issues unless directed otherwise by a healthcare provider. Pregnant women shouldn’t take juniper berries because it can stimulate the uterus and cause a pregnancy to abort.

Juniper berries is a very effective herb when it comes to treating the kidneys or edema. It’s important to make sure you don’t combine it with any improper medications and that you don’t use it if you have kidney damage. Speak to your healthcare provider if you’re not sure if you should use juniper berry.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised: 
you should always consult with your doctor
before making any changes to your diet!!
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