- Plant IDs
- ID By Type
- Evergreen Trees
- Juniperus phoenicia
Phoenician juniper (Juniperus phoenicia) is a survivor. This evergreen shrub or small tree of the Mediterranean can exist on very little water and in poor soil.
Some even live on cliffs high up mountains. With not much space, these junipers can grow sideways, while others grow like vines hanging over the cliffs. Up in this isolated cliff habitat, they can live a thousand years or more. No invasive plants cramping their style; no highways or housing developments taking their space.
We have a Phoenician juniper survivor in the Mediterranean Garden. The bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) planted beside our juniper has grown over half of it and completely covered its back side. You can see in one of the pictures that the bay laurel has even settled in right beside its trunk. Yet this slow-growing juniper, planted in 1978, still plods along surviving.
Juniper species have been widely used in traditional medicines against infections and inflammatory diseases. The berries from Phoenician juniper have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs at multiple sites. According to texts at that time, juniper was one of the ingredients in Cleopatra’s perfume ‘Kyphi’. It was used for aromatic and medicinal purposes.
Phoenician juniper is a tough tree with an often scrappy look. But the animals and birds don’t care. Its seed cones attract them both, and its structure shelters the birds. If you get up close, you will see some hidden gems. Phoenician juniper has tiny, scale-shaped leaves that glisten blue-green in the light.
Text and most photos by Hughie Jones
The pictures of Phoenician juniper were taken in VanDusen in winter. The old growth picture was taken in Jordan by shioshvili via Wikimedia Commons.