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Juniperus species


Junipers, sometimes called cedars, are trees or shrubs with very small, scale like leaves densely crowded around the branches. Each leaf is less than 1.2 centimeters long. All species have a distinct aroma resembling the well-known cedar. The berrylike cones are usually blue and covered with a whitish wax.

Habitat and Distribution

Look for junipers in open, dry, sunny areas throughout North America and northern Europe. Some species are found in southeastern Europe, across Asia to Japan, and in the mountains of North Africa.

Edible Parts

The berries and twigs are edible. Eat the berries raw or roast the seeds to use as a coffee substitute. Use dried and crushed berries as a seasoning for meat. Gather young twigs to make a tea.


Many plants called cedars are similar, but not related to junipers and may be harmful. Always look for the berrylike structures, needle leaves, and resinous, fragrant sap to be sure the plant you have is a juniper.

Steve's notes:

Juniper is an evergreen, so you can make vitamin-c-rich tea from it any time of the year.

Some studies have shown juniper berries to lower or stabilize blood sugar.

The branches are sometimes burned in "smudges" to repel insects.


The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Juniper