Juniperus horizontalis : Creeping Juniper


Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Coniferae (cone bearing)

Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress Family Family)

Genera: Juniperus (Juniper) (Celt. root of name is yoini = rough)

Species: horizontalis (horizontal)

English Name(s):

Creeping Juniper,

First Nation Names:

deetree jak



  • Has long trailing and freely rooting main branches.
  • Prostrate, mat-forning shrub.


  • Blue-green in colour.
  • Pointed tip or Aristate (spine on tip).
  • Scale-like and overlapping like shingles.

Reproductive Parts:

  • Cones of 2 types; male and female cones.
  • Female cones, fleashy and berry-like. Green when young maturing to blue. On short peduncle (stalk).
  • Male cones, small, not berry-like.
  • The berry-like cone has a pore in the bottom through which the pollin can enter and firtilize the seeds.


  • Female cone looks like a blue or blue-grey coloured berry.

Not to Be Confused With:

  • J.communisthe more common species of Juniper in our area is simmilar in habit but is easily distinguished by its need-like leaves.



    Life Cycle:

    Seasonal Cycle:

    • Berry-like cones mature in one season. They are ussually ripe in late August or early September.
    • Evergreen.


    Animal Uses:

    • The berries (female cones) are readily eaten by most animals.


    • Bluffs, alluvial fans, sandy places, terraces and rocky slopes.





    • A volatile oil distiled from the dried berries is used to make the OTC drug Odrinil to increase urine flow. The oil can be used as a flavouring as well.
    • Berries used to treat stomach pains. 5 berryies are chewed raw or steeped for 15 mins. in 500ml water and infusion drunk. Repeated for several days.
    • Disinfectant made with 15 crushed berries are soaked in 250ml alchohol for 24 hours. Then sprayed in room where patients with infectious diseases stayed. Dilute by 1/2 with water and use as a garggle.
    • Leaves of Junper contain the antibiotic podophyllotoxin which has been found to be active against tumors.


    • Berries can be used to flavour foods, meet, and stews and un turkey stuffing are the most common uses.
    • The Berries can be eaten raw or used in tea.

    Traditional Gwich'in:





            Traditional Other:



              • Berries used as beads on necklaces.
              • Branches used to make mattresses. Also stored with clothes to repel bugs.


              • .Branch tips mixed with white wine were said to clear the skin.
              • A handful of young sprigs was covered in boiling water steeped overnight and the infusion drunk to cure or prevent scurvy.
              • Alternatively for arthritis or rheumatism heated damp bundles were bound to aching parts 3-4 times a day.
              • An infusion of the berries was drunk cold every morning for a week to treat lumbago or impaired digestion.
              • Branches used as fumigants, deoderizers, and cleansers in connection with sickness.
              • Brewing or burning boughs was thought to purify a house and protect it from infection and bad spirits after illness or death.
              • Damp branches were spread on glowing embers and those suffering from arthritis or rheumatism were made to recline on them.
              • Leaves (needles or scales) were crushed, dampened, heated over the fire and bound to the jaw over an aching tooth. Then kept warm there with a hot stone.



                Illustration from: Illustrated Flora of BC

                Range Maps

                World Range: North American from NL to AK south to northern US.

                Prov/State Abrev. List

                In Yukon: To about 65 degrees north.

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