Sunday, September 26, 2010

Juniper

Junipers, genus Juniperus, are evergreen trees or SHRUBS belonging to the cypress family, Cupressceae. They include approximately 35 species found throughout the Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to Mexico and the West Indies, Azores, Canary Islands, North Africa, Abyssinia, the mountains of tropical East Africa, the Himalayas, China and formosa.

Juniper bark is usually thin and scales off in longitudinal strips. Leaves are awl-shaped, closely pressed, and dish brown, and very durable. An essential oil is distilled from the wood and used for perfume and sometimes, in medicine. Juniper leaves have powerful diuretic properties, and the characteristic taste of gin is derived from junifer berries. The common juniper, J. communist, is a small tree that is found in the colder northern areas of the Northern Hemipshere, and many are grown as landscape plants. Red "cedar", J. Virginia, is the most important juniper native to the United States. Its wood is the main source of "cedar" lining used to mothproof closets.

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