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Juniperus communis
Juniperus communis
Did you know that… ?
  1. …juniper trees, often straight pillars, can grow up to 12 meters and live 2,000 years?
  2. …juniper berries are initially green, only in their second year on the tree do they ripen into their characteristic blue-black color?
  3. …juniper provides the flavor and aroma for English gin, and liqueurs beloved in Holland, Belgium and Germany?
  4. …ground juniper berries are used to season cleaned wild game?
  5. …chewed juniper berries lessen symptoms of colds and flu?
  6. …according to ancient superstition, harming a juniper tree can bring bad luck, even death?
  7. …juniper as a spice is berries of the bush and tree Juniperus communis, used fresh and dried, whole and ground?
Juniper berries

Alsatian sauerkraut

500 g sauerkraut
1 onion
2 tablespoons lard
1 dl white wine
1 apple
10 juniper berries
300 g bacon
2 cl cherry liqueur (Kirsch)
500 g potatoes
4 cutlets
4 sausages
pepper, salt

Line a baking dish with strips of bacon. Sauté onions in lard, add sauerkraut, grated apple, and juniper, simmer briefly. Place into baking dish, baste with liqueur and wine. Lay sausages on top, salt and pepper to taste, cover with beaten cutlets. Bake one to one and a half hours. Serve with potatoes or bread.


In ancient folk tales, juniper bushes and berries often figure as guardians and safe havens. Jesus' family took refuge under the branches of a juniper bush when they were fleeing from King Herod. According to folklore, the juniper is a mediator between life and death. Souls of the deceased could linger in the shelter of a juniper and so had some hope of a return to life. Smoke from burning juniper limbs was used to guard against plague. They contain substances that kill bacteria, so there is a grain of truth to the superstition that juniper sprigs heal diseases. Juniper sprigs can even be used to ward off the devil.