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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nature's Garden

Let us forget the cool April weather. Today I wish to write about something that is near and dear to my heart - the botanical life of the forest. The woods I live in has a rich variety of plants that share the forest with the tall trees. Over the next few months I hope to present to you as many as I can. One of my goals is to eventually list them and see what I come up with. It will definitely be a learning experience on my part, as I revisit more familiar plants and also try to identify the unfamiliar ones in the beautiful natural garden of the forest.

Common Juniper
Juniperus communis
Family: Cupressaceae (Cypress)

Location: woods, beside a spruce tree, other trees in area,
grows abundantly in this region of British Columbia.

Sprawling, coniferous evergreen shrub. Stems are woody.
When you look at the plant, you can see a blue tinge as well as green.

Close-up of needles
The needles can be prickly. There is a white stripe on the upper needle that gives the plant a blue cast, while the underside is green.

Berries on stem
Juniper berries are not true berries but cones that usually contain 2 to 3 seeds. When mature, they are purple-black with a dusty look. They have a pungent pine-y aroma when crushed.

This berry is 5mm

containing two seeds.

Good food source for grouse, deer, moose and small birds.



Uses:
Traditionally to flavour gin. The berries that are used are full grown but still green.
In European cuisine.
For medicinal purposes.