Juniper is one of our few native evergreen trees (Yew, Holly, Box and Scots Pine are the others). Due to its slow growth the tree will mostly appear as shrub, but in favourable circumstances it will reach 15 feet or more. A peculiarity is that the Common Juniper retains its juvenile (awl shaped needles or leaves) foliage, whereas other Junipers also achieve the scale-like mature leaves. The dark-bluer berries take about tree years to ripen and so we will find both green, as well as blue-black berries (with a bloom) on the branches. The bark is reddish-brown and this can shred and curl in strips.

There are about 60 species of Juniper in the northern hemisphere in America, Europe and Asia from above the Arctic Circle down to Malawi in Africa. Common Juniper has the widest distribution of these trees and is found throughout the temperate Northern hemisphere right down to the Himalayas and North Africa.

In Britain it is found naturally on the thin peaty acid soils of the Pinewoods of Scotland, on the Limestone areas of North England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the chalk-lands of South England. Its appearance is variable and its geographic races are sometimes classed as different species.

Many other Juniper species and cultivars are grown in gardens and collections all over the country.

Flowers in May-June, male and female on separate plants, female develop into berries, which remain green for a year or so then ripen to become blue-black.