Juniperus communis (Common Juniper)

Michael's Opinion

This evergreen is a medium sized shrub that can be used for hedges and mass plantings. It is not a desirable plant and some people find this plant objectionable due to its yellow-brown foliage that develops in cold winter months.

Botanical Information

TypeTree (evergreen)
OriginIt is common in North and Central Europe, in the mountains of countries that border the Mediterranean, Asia and North America.


USDA Hardiness Zone2a - 6
USDA Hardiness Ref.
Canadian Hardiness Zone0 - 6a
Canada Hardiness Ref.
RHS Hardiness ZoneH7 - H6
RHS Hardiness Ref.
Temperature (°C)-46 - (-18)
Temperature (°F)-50 - 0
Height1.5 - 5 m
Spread2 - 4 m
Flowering PeriodApril

Description and Growing Information

General DescriptionThe plant is very adaptable and can literally grow in any conditions.
ID CharacteristicIn winter foliage turns to a brown-bronze colour and has blue-black fruits. This plant is often confused with Juniperus conferta, the difference being that Juniperus communis has a white line that is divided by broader green midrib on its needles.
ShapeCommon Junipers usually have a narrow, pyramidal shape. They can also be low growing in form.
LandscapeThis plant is not used in horticulture as an ornamental shrub. It could be used as a ground cover for sandy soils and waste places. Common Junipers are not very desirable plants.
PropagationSeeds requires a cold stratification period. It has a hard seed coat and can take a long time to germinate.
CultivationThis plant can grow in the worst possible soil conditions. The plant commonly grows on dry, sterile soils, rock outcroppings and wastelands. It is very hardy and likes full sun/partial shade. The Common Juniper is very pH adaptable.
PestsThis plant is susceptible to juniper blight, can have problems with root rot and can be infected with cedar-apple type rusts.
Notable SpecimensCommon in the Bruce Peninsula region of Ontario, Canada and along the sides of highway 69 north of Barrie, Ontario, Canada.
HabitatNorthern parts of Asia, Europe and North America at altitudes up to 3000 m.
Bark DescriptionThe bark on is a red–brown colour which flakes off in thin strips, it cannot usually be seen as it is covered by the foliage.
Bud DescriptionBuds are small and brown-orange.
Leaf DescriptionThe needles are awl-shaped tapering from the base to a point. Needles spread at a wide angle from stem and are about 5-20 mm long. They have a white band sometimes divided by a green midrib at the base.
Flower DescriptionPlants are dioecious, the flowers are yellow and pollinated in the spring by wind.
Fruit DescriptionThe berry will be green in colour in the first year and as it ripens will turn to a blue-black colour. The berries are very bitter to taste (Gin) can be dried to flavour food.
Colour DescriptionNeedles are green-grey to blue-green in the summer time, in the winter needles turn into an unpleasant yellow-brown colour. Berries are blue-black in colour and the bark is red–brown which does not change in winter months.
Texture DescriptionMedium textured.