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Juniper (Juniperus communis L.)


pharmaceuticalFructus Juniperi, Pseudofructus Juniperi, Baccae Juniperi
AlbanianDellinjë e rëndomtë, Dëllinja, Dullinjë
Aramaicܒܪܘܫ, ܓܡܙܘܙ, ܕܦܪܢ, ܫܚܝ
Barush, Gamzuz, Dapran, Shahi
Ardoog, Artuch
BasqueIñibre, Ipuru
BretonJenevreg-boutin, Greun jenevra
CatalanGinebró, Càdec (Juniperus oxycedrus)
杜松 [dù sōng]
Du song
CzechJalovec, Jalovčinky, Jalovec obecný
DanishEnebær, Junipero
EsperantoJunipero, Juniperbero
EstonianHarilik kadakas, Kadakamarjad
Sarv Kuhi
FinnishKataja, Katajanmarja, Kotikataja
FrenchGenévrier, Genièvre
GaelicAiteil, Ailtinn, Aitiol, Dearc-aitinn
GalicianEnebro, Xenebro
GermanWacholder, Machandel, Kranawitt
Greek (Old)Ἄρκευθος, Μνησίθεος, Κεδρίς
Arkeuthos, Mnesitheos, Kedris
Hebrewג׳וניפר, ערער
עַרעָר, ג'וּנִיפֵר
Ar-ar, Arar, Guniper, Juniper
HungarianBoróka, Borókabogyó
IcelandicEiniber, Einir
ItalianGinepro, Coccola di ginepro
Japaneseセイヨウスズ, セイヨウトショウ, ジュニパー
Seiyō-suzu, Seiyo-suzu, Seiyō-toshō, Seiyo-tosho, Junipa
Korean곱향나무, 주니퍼, 쥬니퍼
Kophyang-namu, Junipeo, Jyunipeo, Chunipo, Chyunipo
LatinIuniparium, Iuniperum, Zyniperum
LatvianPaegļi, Zviedrijas kadiķis; Kadiķa ogas (juniper berries)
LithuanianPaprastasis kadagys
MacedonianБоровинка, Клековача, Смрека
Borovinka, Klekovača, Smreka
Nepaliधुपी, फार
Dhupi, Phar
PolishJałowiec pospolity; Jagody jałowca (juniper berries)
PortugueseJunípero, Junipo; Zimbro (Juniperus oxycedrus)
ProvençalGenèbre, Janebre, Genibrièr
SerbianКлека, Вења, Фења, Смрековина, Смрека, Шмрца
Kleka, Venja, Fenja, Smrekovina, Smrekna, Šmrca
SlovakBorievka obyčajná, Borievka
SlovenianBrin, Brinove jagode
SpanishEnebro, Cedro, Bayas de enebro, Junípero, Nebrina
SwedishEn, Enbär
Tibetanཤུག་པ་, ཤུགས་པ་
Shug-pa, Shugs-pa
TurkishArdıç yemişi, Ephel
UkrainianЯлівець звичайний, Яловець звичайний
Yalivets zvychajnyj, Yalovets zvychajnyj
VietnameseCây bách xù
Cay bach xu
Yiddishקאַדיק, יאַלאָװעץ
Kadik, Yalovets
Juniperus communis: Unripe juniper berries
Unripe juniper berries.
Juniperus communis: Ripe juniper pseudofruits
Ripe juniper cones
Juniperus communis: Juniper berries
Dried juniper cones (juniper berries)
Used plant part  

The berry-like cones. They take two years to ma­ture.

In the botanical sense, cones are no fruits, as they do not develop from a ovary (conifers do not enclose their seeds, but develop them open or naked). There­fore, desig­nations like juniper berries or juniper fruits are equally in­accurate, while pseudo­fruit is accept­able.

Plant family

Cupressaceae (cypress family).

Sensory quality

Aromatic with a sweet accent, similar to the South Ameri­can pink pepper. See also lico­rice for a dis­cussion of sweet spices.

Main constitu­ents

Apart from up to 33% sugars and 10% resin, juniper berries owe their use in the kitchen to an essential oil (0.2 to 2%, dependent on provenance). The essential oil is mainly composed of monoterpenes: 80% α- and β-pinene, thujene, sabinene, 5% terpinene-4-ol, α-terpineol, borneol and geraniol; sesqiterpenes (α- and β-cadinene, caryophyllene) are found in traces.

Juniperus communis: Unripe juniper berries
Unripe juniper berries
Juniperus communis: Ripe juniper berries
Ripe juniper cones

Several species of the genus Juni­perus grow all over tem­perate Europe and Asia.


The classical Latin name of that plant, iuni­perus, cannot be ex­plained satis­factorily; possibly, it is a Celtic loan. Other theories assume it is a Latin com­pound: It could be a con­traction of iuveni-parus (too) young (early) bearing, which would refer to the abortive action of the related species Juniperus sabina. Or it could contain iuncus rush, reed, in reference to the flexible branches of juniper usable for plaiting. Also, connections to Iupiter (genetive case: Iovis) have been proposed, which might hint at otherwise unknown cultic uses.

Names of juniper in several European languages, especially Romance languages, derive from that name: Besides English juniper, we have Dutch jeneverbes, Italian ginepro, Spanish enebro (Old Spanish ginebro), Provençal genèbre, Romanian ienupăr and even Hebrew juniper [ג’וניפר]. In English, the French loan juniper supplanted the Old English name of that plant, cwicbēam life-tree (modern quickbeam), which was also used for rowan (mountain ash, Sorbus aucuparia).

Juniperus communis: Juniper plant column
Juniper tree in column-shape

© Martin Flux, Head Gardener, Fishbourne Roman Palace

Juniperus communis: Juniper tree with ripe cones
Juniper tree with ripe cones

The German name Wachol­der (of which Machan­del is a Northern variant) contains a stem which might be related to wachsen grow (cf. English wax increase), but is more probably derived from the Proto-Indo–European root WEG weave, web (cf. English veil, wick), since its branches have been used for weaving. Incidentally, the same root also lies behind English wax as in beewax.

The Germanic tree suffix d(e)r, as seen in Wachol­der, appears in several other German plant names. At the bottom lies Proto-Indo–European DERU with the basic meaning tree, particularly oak and the derived meaning strong, firm, reliable. This is a very prominent root, which hardly any Indo–European language is free of: Gothic triu tree, wood, Sanskrit darvi [दर्वि] wooden, Farsi dar [دار] wood, Greek drys [δρῦς] (Mycenaean drus [𐀉𐀬]) tree, oak, Old Irish daur oak, Russian derevo [дерево] tree, Latvian darva tar, furthermore Latin durus strong, robust, Lithuanian drūtas thick, strong and Old English trum strong, firm. Examples from Modern English include tree, tray, tar, true and trust.

In some Middle Eastern languages, cinnamon bears the name Chinese wood, where the latter element is represented by words of the DERU kin, e. g., Hindi dal chini [दालचीनी]. See cassia for a more detailed discussion. Another spice plant name which might derive from that root is laurel.

Selected Links

Indian Spices: Juniper ( Ilkas und Ullis Kochecke: Wacholder ( via Poisonous Plants of North Carolina: Juniper

Juniperus communis: Juniper fruits
Ripening juniper cones

Juniper is an important spice in many European cuisines, especially in Alpine regions, where juniper grows abundantly. It is the only example of a spice in the botanic group of the coniferae, and also one of the few examples of spices from cold climatic regions, though the best quality stems from Southern European countries.

Juniper is much used in the traditional cuisine of Central Europe, e. g. for the Southern German specialty Sauerkraut. For its preparation, fresh cabbage is preserved by lactic fermentation and seasoned with juniper, caraway and maybe a few bay leaves. The taste then develops during aging in large wooden barrels. Sauerkraut can either be eaten raw (as a kind of salad), or be cooked or fried (often together with small cubes of smoked ham or bacon) to be served as a side dish; there are also dumplings stuffed with it.

Juniper’s main application is, however, meat; it is felt indispensable for venison and combines well with black pepper, marjoram and laurel berries. Juniper berries, properly called cones, should be crushed immediately before use.

Although juniper berries are harmless for healthy people, their massive use is discouraged for people with kidney weakness and pregnant women.

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