Common juniper

Juniper is an evergreen coniferous shrub of the cypress family, reaching a height of 1-3 m, or a tree with a branched trunk up to 8-12 m high.\r

The youngest branches are yellowish, somewhat glossy, trihedral. The bark is dark gray or grayish-brown, cracking, flaky.\r

Leaves 4-16 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, prickly, hard, linear-styloid, spiny-pointed, almost trihedral, sessile, whorled. Male cones are yellow, small, almost sessile, oval, located in significant numbers at the ends of the branches in the axils of the leaves. Female cones consist of lower coverts and three upper fruiting scales, on which there is one ovule each; they are numerous, oblong-ovate, pale green. After fertilization, the three upper fertile scales grow, become fleshy and juicy. The edges of the scales grow together with the seeds and turn into a cone. In the first year, the cone is green, ovoid; on the second, after maturation – spherical, shiny, black, with a bluish wax coating; at the top there is a three-beam seam. Juniper is renewed by seed. Blooms in May;

In medicine, fruits are used – juniper cones. Diuretic preparations are prepared from them, in pharmacies they sell fruits for making infusions at home.\r

Habitats. Spreading


Common juniper grows in the forest-steppe and forest zones of the European part of the country, Western and Eastern Siberia. It is found in a wide variety of habitats. It grows in the undergrowth of dry pine forests on sandy soil, on the tops of sand dunes, in spruce forests with excessive moisture, on raised bogs, in spruce-pine grass, bilberry and bilberry-cowberry forests, on cutting areas and edges, sometimes forms thickets. Grows best in moderately moist soils in open areas. Frost-resistant. Can tolerate shading.\r

Procurement and quality of raw materials.


The collection of juniper cones is carried out in autumn (from late August to late October), during their full ripening, when they turn black and blue. To collect, you need burlap and canvas mittens. Pricks of leaves (needles) injure the hands, so the pickers collect the cones by shaking the bushes on a lined burlap. At the same time, mature cones fall off, and the green ones remain on the branches. The showered cones are cleaned of needles, twigs, pieces of bark and unripe fruits. With all this, special attention should be paid to cleaning raw materials from grassy bugs, which give the raw material an unpleasant odor.\r

It is not recommended to knock down the cones with sticks, this leads to shedding of green fruits, needles, insects and clogs the raw materials, harms the plant, reducing the yield next year. Plants may also not be cut down or branches cut from them.\r

Drying of raw materials is recommended to be carried out slowly. The cones are dried, stirring every day, in the shade, under sheds, in sheds, in attics under an iron roof with good ventilation, in heated rooms; it is not recommended to dry raw materials in ovens, this worsens the quality of cones. With sufficient cleaning carried out before drying, the raw material does not require further processing.\r

According to the requirements of the State Pharmacopoeia and GOST 2802-69, juniper fruits are spherical cones 6-9 mm in diameter, smooth, shiny, less often matte, black-brown or almost black, sometimes with a bluish wax coating, at the top with a three-beam seam. The pulp is loose, greenish-brown, with 1-3 seeds. The smell is peculiar, fragrant. The taste is spicy, sweetish. The raw material must contain at least 0.5% essential oil. Total ash is allowed no more than 5%; ash insoluble in 10% hydrochloric acid, 0.5%; unripe or brown fruits 9.5%; including green — 0.5%; organic and mineral impurities 0.5% each; foreign non-poisonous berries 0.5%. The admixture of other types of juniper, especially poisonous Cossack juniper, is unacceptable. Loss in mass during drying should be no more than 20%.\r

Dried raw materials are packed in bags of 40-50 kg. Store in a well ventilated dry area. When storing juniper fruits, an intense loss of essential oil occurs.\r

The storage period of raw materials is up to 2 years.\r

Chemical composition


Common juniper fruits contain up to 2% essential oil, which includes pinene, cadinene, terpineol, dipentene, borneol, isoborneol, uniper-camphor, cedrol and other compounds. They contain up to 40% sugars, within 9.5% resins, coloring matter, fatty oil, organic acids (malic, formic and acetic).\r

Application in medicine


Due to the content of terpineol in the essential oil, the infusion of juniper fruits has a diuretic effect, also increases bile formation and bile secretion, enhances the secretion of gastric juice and intestinal motility. It is not recommended to use juniper products for a long time in case of kidney disease.\r

Infusions and diuretic preparations, which include juniper berries, are advisable to use in complex therapy, combining them with other medicinal plants that have anti-inflammatory, diuretic and bactericidal properties. They are usually prescribed as a diuretic, also in chronic respiratory diseases, to thin sputum and improve its expectoration.

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