Herb: Californian Juniper

Latin name: Juniperus californica

Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Medicinal use of Californian Juniper:

The scorched twigs have been rubbed on the body in the treatment of fits. The leaves are analgesic, diaphoretic and hypotensive. An infusion has been used in the treatment of high blood pressure, coughs and colds and to bring relief from a hangover (the bark was also used in this case). It has also been taken by pregnant women just prior to childbirth in order to relax the muscles.

Description of the plant:


12 m
(39 feet)

to April

Habitat of the herb:

Dry rocky, gravelly or sandy soils on dry mountain slopes and hills, 120 - 1200 metres.

Edible parts of Californian Juniper:

Fruit - raw or cooked. A thick, sweet, dry, fibrous and non-resinous flesh. It can also be dried and ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in various dishes or eaten as a mush. The fruit is produced abundantly in the wild, though it is unlikely to be freely produced in Britain. The cones are about 10 - 20mm in diameter.

Other uses of the herb:

Wood - soft, close grained, durable in contact with the soil. It is used for fencing and fuel.

Propagation of Californian Juniper:

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed "green" (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years. Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry rocky, gravelly or sandy soils on dry mountain slopes and hills, 120 - 1200 metres.

Known hazards of Juniperus californica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.