Juniperus communis

common juniper, mountain juniper

Common juniper is a low-growing, 1 m tall evergreen shrub with trailing branches. Bark is reddish-brown and scaly. The leaves or needles are lance-shaped, prickly, and in clusters of three.

Cultural Narrative: 

The berries of common juniper were uncommonly eaten, though some groups did occasionally consume the berries. According to Turner (2007:49), chewing a few berries or bark can keep a person from getting hungry. Berries and/or branches may also be boiled to make a diuretic tea.

Traditional Knowledge: 

More often, the boughs were used as a deodorizer or cleanser, usually in association with sickness. They could be burned or boiled to bring out the purifying odors and protect individuals from infection, harmful spirits, or death. 

Location Description: 

Juniperus communis grows throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is found across elevations in arid contexts, including open forests, edges of grasslands, and rocky outcrops.