Herb: Savine

Latin name: Juniperus sabina

Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family)

Medicinal use of Savine:

The young shoots are abortifacient, diuretic, emetic, powerfully emmenagogue and irritant. The plant is rarely used internally but is useful as an ointment and dressing to blisters etc in order to promote discharge. The powdered leaves are also used in the treatment of warts. The shoots are harvested in spring and dried for later use. Use with great caution and never during pregnancy, see notes above on toxicity.

Description of the plant:


4 m
(13 feet)



Habitat of the herb:

Dry stony places in mountains, usually on limestone, at elevations of 1000 - 2300 metres.

Other uses of Savine:

Leaves are used as an insect repellent, a decoction of them is used against lice. An essential oil from the leaves and shoots has strong diuretic properties and is also used in perfumery. Yields of around 4% are obtained, this oil is also used as an insecticide. A good dense ground cover plant, though it is slow to cover the ground. The species type eventually forms a high ground cover, but there are many named forms that are lower-growing. The sub-species J. sabina tamariscifolia has been particularly recommended. Plants should be spaced about 1.2 metres apart each way. The taller forms of this species make a good hedge.

Propagation of the herb:

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 Savine:

Dry stony places in mountains, usually on limestone, at elevations of 1000 - 2300 metres.

Known hazards of Juniperus sabina:

The whole plant is poisonous and can produce abortions.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.