The juniper immigrated 12000 years ago and is still a native tree in all of Sweden. Its needles are blueish white on the upper side and shiny green on the underside. It develops small seed cones that ripen to blue berries. It is a shrub or small tree, occasionally reaching 10 meters of height. The juniper is slow growing and can get 1000 years old. It thrives in open areas, growing both on fertile grazing land and on high mountain heaths.
It has light sapwood, brownish heartwood and a pleasant scent. Growth is slow, which gives a dense and flexible wood and makes it a favored material for basketry.The juniper is decay resistant and has found use as fence materials, road markings and pegs in log- and boatbuilding. Craftsmen use it mainly for small items like butter paddles, salt cellars, butter bowls, buttons and more.
Did you know that:
- The scent of its twigs and wood has made it favorable for smoking of fish and meat.
- Juniper twigs are said to keep rats and mice out of cellars and store rooms.
- There is an old saying that goes ”when all juniper berries have ripened all girls will be married and faithful”. Which never happens; there are always flowers, green berries as well as blue berries on the same tree.
- In popular medicine the berries were used for cleaning wounds. Twigs could be burnt to keep evil powers away.