Juniper berries are common throughout Europe and North America. Depending on the species, some juniper plants stay small, spreading out like shrubs, while others grow into tall trees. There are an estimated 50 to 67 juniper species.
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What Are Juniper Berries?
Juniper berries are the female seeds of the juniper tree. The male seeds are the traditional cone shapes associated with evergreen trees and release pollen in early spring or autumn.
Where Do Juniper Berries Grow?
Juniper trees and shrubs grow wild throughout the Northern hemisphere, found on every continent except for Antarctica. Juniper species grow high in mountains and even on craggy rock outcrops with no soil.
Where Are Juniper Berries Found?
Found in marinades, juniper berries are added to flavor roasts, sauerkrauts, and as a key ingredient in the alcohol drink gin. Found in Native American medicine, juniper berries aid in digestion, easing cold symptoms and muscle pain.
Throughout history, juniper berries have been used for medical purposes. Medieval doctors and World War II hospitals burned juniper branches as an antiseptic.
While all juniper shrubs have berries, some such as the Juniperus sabina are poisonous. Juniper berries contain dilating properties, so pregnant women are advised to avoid juniper berries.