Medicinal Shrubs and Woody Vines: Juniperus, Juniper


  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,517 admin

    We have 4 species of juniper here in BC with 3 of them being in my immediate area; Rocky Mountain Juniper (J. scopulorum), Common Juniper (J. communis) and Horizontal Juniper (J. horizontalis). Horizontal Juniper is not as easy to find as the other two. There is also Seaside Juniper (J. maritima) but it only grows on the southwest coast of BC. There is a hybrid species between Rocky Mountain Juniper and Horizontal Juniper but it can be very hard to distinguish from either of its parents.

    Its a popular landscape plant so we have lots of different species and cultivars here, too.

    I harvest juniper whenever I can find it. But we haven't had a good crop for a couple of years. However, this year there are many green ones so I am hoping that there will be a good harvest next year. I really want to try Smreka (a fermented beverage made with juniper berries)!

    I much prefer to harvest Rocky Mountain Juniper instead of Common. Common Juniper is so prickly. Rocky Mountain Juniper has soft sprays of flat needles like cedar so its much easier on the hands. But I'd pick them this year if I could find any.

    Its really interesting to read the history of junipers uses. Regardless of how far apart some of our distant ancestors were, they all had similar uses for juniper. Its widely used among First Nations here, especially when it comes to ritual use around cleansing. It is used in sweat lodges, to clean the air after an illness and for burial rituals.

    I add juniper to a number of different preparations I make. Sometimes it goes in bitters formulae. I like adding a few crushed berries to evergreen bath salts. I've add them to a fire cider I came up with using all local (to me) ingredients. And of course, I make a tincture with them, too.

    I also use juniper berries as a spice. Goes well with game meats. It can be added to rubs or a seasoning salt for use at the table. A great meal when out fishing is a trout stuffed with what you have at hand; some Douglas fir needles, dandelion greens, wild onions, a few juniper berries. I will add juniper berries to some of my vinegars for use as salad dressings.

    I like Juniper EO, too, but I like all of the conifer EOs.

  • judsoncarroll4
    judsoncarroll4 Posts: 5,361 admin

    I probably eat it more than using it any other way. I agree that juniper goes very well with meats and fish. I snack on it often while hiking and such.