Family : Cupressaceae
Juniper, a sprawling shrub of the
cypress family is distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
The main producers of juniper are Hungary and Southern Europe, especially
Italy. It had a reputation for being a protector and friend to those
in trouble. In the Middle Ages juniper branches were hung over doors
as protection against witches. Its branches were burned to keep
serpents and snakes at bay.
Juniper is an evergreen coniferous
tree, prostrate or upright to 6 m. The juvenile leaves of a juniper
are needle-like, prickly and emitting scent of apples if bruised.
Mature leaves are awl-shaped, spreading, and arranged in pairs or
in whorls of three. Some species have small, scalelike leaves, often
bearing an oil gland, which are pressed closely to the rounded or
four-angled branchlets. It is a dioecious tree having male and female
reproductive structures borne on separate plants. The male flowers
are yellow and conical, the female are green and rounded. The reddish
brown or bluish cones are fleshy and berrylike and often have a
grayish, waxy covering. They mature in 1 to 3 seasons and contain
1 to 12 seeds, usually 3.
Juniper is usually planted in autumn
or spring in good, well-drained soil in open areas. It is propagated
from seeds or from cuttings.
Aroma and flavour
The fruit, or berry, of this species
is used to flavour foods and alcoholic beverages, particularly gin,
which is named after Juniperus through the French genièvre.
Juniper berries have a fragrant, spicy aroma and a slightly bittersweet
Culinary, medicinal and other
Used with venison, they remove the
gamey taste. They are also used to season sauces and stuffings,
in pickling meats, and to flavour liqueurs and bitters.Oil of juniper,
distilled from the wood and leaves of several species, is used in
perfumes and in medicines such as diuretics. Oil from unripe berries
is used in massaging rheumatic or gouty parts of the body. Wood
of stem and roots is burned to smoke preserved meats. Galls produced
by junipers as a reaction to fungal infection are known as cedar
Juniper is a powerful antiseptic
and is used in insecticides and perfumes and is believed to help
blood circulation and to restore youthful vigour to the ageing.
It is used in the treatment of colic, flatulence and rheumatism
and as an antidote for snake bites.