66. Chinese Juniper

(Juniperus chinensis)

Family: Cupressaceae


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In the Medicinal Herb Garden, at the corner by your right is a 40-foot-tall (12.1-meter-tall) Chinese Juniper with big, pale berries. It is pollinated by a 50-foot (15.2-meter) male of the same species along the path leading to Benson Hall. Many of us think of junipers as shrubs, so these are good examples to show they can be real trees. This northeast Asian native has a weaker odor than many junipers, and can be either prickly or smooth in its foliage. The cones are berry-like, blue-black, and have a whitish waxy bloom. The United States also has several species of native juniper trees.


The Chinese juniper is a popular species for bonsai cultivation. Another kind of juniper, called by the French "genièvre," had its berries used to flavor the beverage that became known as gin. Oil of juniper has a lovely warm, fresh, balsamic, woody pine needle odor. It is used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments.

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