The common juniper may be a shrub or small tree. This is one of the most commonly found junipers throughout the world. It's typically found in dry, rocky, wooded hillsides or exposed slopes. The oil from the fleshy cones is used as flavoring and to make gin.
This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Small tree (15-25 feet),
- Compact tree (10-15 feet),
- Large shrub (more than 8 feet),
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
- Zone 2,
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8
- Acid soil,
- Alkaline soil
- Dry sites,
- Alkaline soil,
- Road salt
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter,
- early spring,
- mid spring,
- late spring,
- early summer,
- late summer,
- early fall,
- mid fall,
- late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & Form
Low spreading shrub or tree. Size varies by cultivar, typically 5 to 10 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide with ascending branches.
Tree & Plant Care
Prefers open, sunny locations in light, sandy to well-drained soils, pH adaptable.
Good tolerance to windy sites.
Do not prune into center dead zone.
Disease, pests, and problems
Susceptible to juniper blight, twig blight, cedar-apple-rust, scale mites, aphids, bagworms and many other insect and disease problems.
Disease, pests, and problem resistance
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
Found throughout North America into northern Mexico, Europe and Asia
Attracts birds & Butterflies
Birds eat the fleshy cones and disperse seeds
Bark color and texture
Reddish brown peeling off in strips.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Awl-shaped leaves are sharply pointed and spreading at a wide angle from the base, in whorls of three. Needles last on plant for three years before shedding.
Gray-green to blue green in summer turning yellow-green in winter.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Flowers are dioecious, with male and female on separate plants.
Flowers are wind pollinated.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Female cone is a purple-black berry-like cone with a bloomy, blue waxy coating.
The seeds are dispersed by birds.
Fruit is a diuretic and used to flavor gin.
Cultivars and their differences
This plant is a cultivar of a species that is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research. Cultivars are plants produced in cultivation by selective breeding or via vegetative propagation from wild plants identified to have desirable traits."
Blueberry Delight™ (Juniperus communis 'AmiDak'): dense, low-growing, spreading juniper reaching 1 to 1 1/2 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide. Dark green needles have a silver-blue band; female plants produce bloomy black fruit.
'Compressa' (Juiperus communis 'Compressa'): upright, narrow form 2 to 3 feet high and 4-6 feet wide.