No. 56. Juniperus communis L.
Names. Common Juniper. Fr. Genievre commun.
Classif. Nat. Order of Coniferes. Dieocia monadelphia L.
Genus JUNIPERUS. Dioecious. Ament ovate, scales verticillate peltate, anthers three to eight, on a single filament. Fertile filament, globose, three scales, coadunate, stigma gaping. Berry formed by the united fleshy scales, inclosing one to three nuts.
Sp. Juniperus communis. L. Shrubby erect, leaves alternate, spreading, linear, mucronate, shining above, glabrous beneath. Instead of giving the full description of this well known shrub, which the above, and the figure is amply sufficient to distinguish, I shall add the characters of some other species, which possess similar qualities, and which I mean to include in this article.
2. Sp. Juniperus depressa, Raf. 1817. (J. communis Big. fig. 44.) Stems cespitose, depressed, spreading, decumbent. Leaves ternate, spreading, subulate, mucronate, with a white stripe above, convex beneath, as long as the berries: staminate, ament sternate, sessile, obovate. Berries smooth, elliptic. Considered as a variety of the former by many botanists, but very distinct, berries larger, branches trigone, forming circular bushes, twelve to fifteen feet round. In New York, New England, Canada, &c. The Dwarf Cedar, found by Lewis and Clarke on the Yellow Stone river, with branches spreading like vines, and rooted beneath, is perhaps the same, or a peculiar kind J. radicatus: or the following:
3. Sp. Juniperus prostrata. N. Stems prostrate, creeping. Leaves imbricate in four rows, ovate, submucronate, glandular. Berries oblong, tubercular. On sea shores, lakes, &c. of the Northern States, called Dwarf Cedar.
4. Sp. Juniperus virginiana. L. (or common Red Cedar.) Arborescent. Leaves imbricate, in three or four scaly rows, ovate, lanceolate, young ones acerose, expanding. Berries globose, tubercular. This tree is spread all over North America; in the South it reaches fifty feet.
5. Sp. Juniperus bermudiana. L. (Sea side Red Cedar.) Arborescent, inferior, leaves ternate, upper leaves opposite in four rows, decurrent, subulate, spreading, pungent: berries purple. In the Bermuda Islands and the sea shore of Carolina, Florida, &c. The three last species called Cedars in America, (the true Cedar is the Larix Cedrus of Syria) have often been blended by writers and described for each other. They all have small rough berries, with only one or two seeds, three stamina, or rather anthers, three internal scales, (called corolla,) in the female ament, and three styles. They ought to form a peculiar sub-genus, which I propose to call Euxylon, meaning good wood.
6. Sp. Juniperus Sabina (Savin.) Shrubby, leaves opposite, in four rows, glandular, lanceotate, commonly obtuse. On rocks in Canada and New England. Several species are blended here; the American, Asiatic, and European kinds are perhaps different; a low variety of specie 3d, has often been mistaken for it.
History. A fine and useful genus of Evergreens, Trees, and Shrubs, highly valued as ornamental in gardens for hedges, the medical berries, and the fine wood of the large kinds. They are chiefly found in the cold climates of the two hemispheres. A great confusion exists among our Botanical writers respecting our American species. The J. depressa has repeatedly been considered as J. communis, and figured even as such by Bigelow, who also can hardly distinguish the Savin from the Cedar. The characters must be sought for in the berries and flowers. The Cedar varies much with age and soil, and some even deem the fifth specie one of its varieties; but its purple berries are peculiar. I have no materials before me to notice the flowers of all the species; but the berries are as follows:
1. J. communis. Berries globose, pediculated, small, much shorter than the leaves, smooth, three seeded, bluish.
2. J. depressa. B. elliptic, subsessile, nearly as long as the leaves, smooth, three seeded, glaucous.
3. J. prostrata. B. oval, oblong, warty, two seeded, bluish.
4. J. virginiana. B. oval, globose, small, warty, one or two seeded, glaucous, bluish.
5. J. bermudiana. B. globose, warty, purplish.
6. J. sabina. Four kinds or sp. at least. 1. Excelsa or arboreous; berries blackish, one seeded, globular. Found in Asia and Oregon, in the U. S. 2. Rupestris, or Rocky Savin of Canada; berries blue, ovoid, two seeded, (dark blue.) 3. Cupressiforme of Europe, with berries globular, three seeded. 4. True Savin with spreading leaves, berries compressed, bluish.
The J. montana of Europe, was once reckoned as one of the J. communis. It has crowded leaves, a cespitose stem, berries ovoid, not globular; while the J. communis has slender, remote leaves, stem erect, berries globular, dark blue. Our American kind appears intermediate by having the stem erect, shrubby; but the leaves crowded and broader, with larger berries. It is found in Pennsylvania, Maryland, &c. on hills and mountains.
Properties. Alike in all the species, stronger in the Savins, less violent in J. virginiana and the Cedars, weaker in the true Junipers. They are stimulant, diaphoretic, diuretic, carminative, eccoprotic, anthelmintic, emmenagogue, &c. The berries, leaves, and wood may be used; the berries have a strong, pungent, aromatic smell and taste, somewhat sweet and bitter, containing an essential oil, tannin, and a sweet mucilage. The leaves and wood contain some of the oil also, in which resides the active properties. The leaves are more acrid and bitter than the berries. The wood has a weaker taste and a better smell, owing to a kind of resin called Sandarac, which it exudes in warm countries, and resembling Copal, by a part being only soluble in Ether. This renders the wood very durable and obnoxious to insects. Boxes made of it preserve woollens from moths. The Cedar wood is light, close grained, reddish, much used for posts, tubs, pencils, &c. by carpenters, ship-builders, coopers, turners: it is one of our best timber, and preserves a long while its peculiar odour.
The Oil of Juniper is chiefly distilled from the berries; the Italian berries are the best; the American yield much less oil. They impart their flavour to alcoholic liquors, and form the well known gin, which acquires some diuretic properties. The oil is useful in dropsy, in debility of the stomach and intestines, palsy of the bladder, and uterine obstructions. The doses must be minute; or a decoction of the berries and leaves may be substituted. A kind of beer is made with the berries in Lapland; they improve also the spruce beer.
The leaves of Savin are the officinal parts. Those of our Cedars are used as equivalents with us, under the name of Savin; but they are weaker than the European Savin, and often fail as emmenagogue, because the doses are regulated upon the European prescriptions. They have all the properties of the Junipers in a higher and even violent degree; they increase all the secretions, but may produce hemorrhagy and abortion, acting chiefly on the uterus. Pregnant women ought never to use them; but they are very useful in dropsical complaints, menstrual suppressions, also in rheumatism, gout, worms, &c. in powder, conserve, or tincture. None but experienced physicians ought to prescribe them. Farriers use them frequently in diseases of horses. Externally, the powdered leaves may be applied to warts, venereal excrescences, ulcers, carious bones, psora, tinea, and gangrenous sores, to heal them. The fresh leaves mixed with lard and wax, form a good perpetual epipastic, applied to a vesicated surface, keeping it open, and changing the discharge from a serous to a puriform appearance.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, Vol. 2, 1830, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.