Creeping and Common Juniper in my front yard
|Creeping juniper, (Juniperus horizontalis)|
About five years ago I planted the two species of juniper that are native to Alaska, creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis) and common juniper (Juniperus communis), in our front yard. I got them from a local nursery, but they originally came from the wild, so are not cultivars. Junipers are dioecious, with each plant only producing male or female cones.
|Common juniper, (Juniperus communis)|
I’ve never seen ripe “berries” on the creeping juniper so I think the two plants I have only produce male flowers. The two common juniper plants were several years old and one was already producing a few berries when I planted them, so I knew It was likely I had male and female plants.
After nurturing the plants for five-odd years, we are finally starting to get a good crop of juniper berries from the common juniper. The berries (actually cones) take three year to ripen. The first year they are green and eventually ripen to a blue color.
|Close-up of juniper berries|
The berries of the common juniper are edible. (Some juniper species produce toxic berries, and many produce bitter ones. The berries off our bush are actually a little sweet.) I guess this year we will be harvesting berries to use as food flavoring.