Thursday, October 28, 2010

Juniper Berries

I love this time of year mainly because of the changing colors of the leaves, but also because the berries of so many shrubs and other woody plants become more prominent.

Here are some beautiful Juniper berries: 
 The berries of this Juniper are a waxy, blue color and cluster closely together. I think the blue is so striking against the green of the needle-like/scale-like leaves.

Actually, the berries on Junipers are not actually berries at all. They are cones, growing only on the female plants. Junipers are dioecious, which means that individual plants are either male or female (unlike most other plants where male and female parts exist on the same plant). So the female juniper plants produce the berries (cones) and the male plants produce the pollen.  

Various types of junipers have different uses:
The spicy-smelling berries of Juniperus communis (Common juniper) are the predominant flavor in Gin.
The fragrant wood of Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar) is used for cabinets, fences and pencils.
The wood of Juniperus phoenicea (Mediterranean Phoenician juniper) is burned as incense.
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

I found a recipe for making Gin on It calls for 10g of juniper berries (that's about 1/4lb) - which is a lot of berries! I'm not sure this little shrub will produce that many... nor that I would want to even distill my own either. But I think it's still a pretty cool fact!


  1. Dear Kate, As the season draws to a close one does become more aware of the smallest details in the garden which, in the blowsiness of summer, would be overlooked.

    I have never tried distilling gin, but I do love to drink it!!

  2. I love gin too and have used the berries to make fresh gravlax with Pacific salmon my dad catches. You can also soak this same gravlax with gin. What I am getting at is that I really like gin and juniper berries. :)

  3. Edith - you have such a lovely way with words!

    Ficurinia - I never even heard of gravlax but how cool that you used these berries for that!

    Meemsnyc - aren't they tho? :)

  4. I love the dust bleu color of juniper "berries", but I did not know much about them and so this was an informative post. I agree with Edith's comment-Without flowers to distract us, it is easier to note more subtle beauty in the garden.

  5. Thank you for reminding me of how pretty juniper berries are. There are so many bright colours around with the leaves changing at the moment that I think we sometimes miss these things

  6. The berries really are pretty. Makes me want to go on a walk and see what berries are on shrubs and trees around here now.
    I didn't know gin was made from juniper berries, sounds like it would be fun to try.

  7. We have an entire bank full of juniper in front of our house - it's a wonderful shrub for a steep bank and it looks great in every season.l


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