Juniperus communis L.

Last updated: 09 May 2016

Scientific Name

Juniperus communis L.


Juniperus albanica Pénzes, Juniperus argaea Balansa ex Parl. [Invalid], Juniperus borealis Salisb. [Illegitimate], Juniperus caucasica Fisch. Ex Gordon [Invalid], Juniperus communis var. arborescens Gaudin, Juniperus communis var. aurea G. Nicholson, Juniperus communis f. aurea (G. Nicholson) Rehder, Juniperus communis var. brevifolia Sanio, Juniperus communis subsp. brevifolia (Sanio) Pénzes, Juniperus communis var. communis, Juniperus communis var. compressa Carrière) Rehder, Juniperus communis f. crispa Browicz & Ziel., Juniperus communis subsp. cupressiformis Vict. & Sennen ex Pénzes, Juniperus communis var. erecta Pursh, Juniperus communis var. fastigiata Parl., Juniperus communis var. hemisphaerica (J. Presl & C.Presl) Parl., Juniperus communis subsp. hemisphaerica (J.Presl & C.Presl) Nyman, Juniperus communis var. hispanica Endl., Juniperus communis var. montana Neilr., Juniperus communis var. oblonga Loudon, Juniperus communis var. oblonga-pendula Loudon, Juniperus communis f. oblonga-pendula (Loudon) Beissn., Juniperus communis subsp. pannonica Pénzes, Juniperus communis var. pendens Sudw., Juniperus communis var. pendula Carrière, Juniperus communis f. pendula (Carrière) Formánek, Juniperus communis var. pendula-aurea Sénécl., Juniperus communis f. pendulina Kuphaldt, Juniperus communis f. pungens Velen, Juniperus communis var. reflexa Parl., Juniperus communis var. stricta Carriére, Juniperus communis f. stricta (Carriére) Rehder, Juniperus communis var. suecica (Mill.) Aiton, Juniperus communis f. suecica (Mill.) Beissn., Juniperus communis var. variegate-aurea Carriére, Juniperus compressa Carriére, Juniperus crecovia K.Koch, Juniperus dealbeta Loudon, Junieprus depressa Stevels [Illetigitimate], Juniperus difformis Gilib., Juniperus echinoformis Rinz ex Bolse, Juniperus elliptica K.Koch, Juniperus fastigiata Knight, Juniperus hemisphaerica C.Presl, Juniperus hibernica Lodd. Ex Loudon, Juniperus hispanica Booth ex Endl., Juniperus interrupta H.L.Wendl. ex Endl., Juniperus kanitzii Csató, Juniperus microphylla Antoine, Juniperus niemannii E.L.Wolf, Juniperus oblonga-pendula (Loudon) Van Geert ex K.Koch, Juniperus oblongopendula Loudon ex Beissn., Juniperus occidentalis Carriére [Illegitimate], Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. hemisphaerica (J.Presl & C.Presl) E.Schmid, Juniperus reflexa Gordon, Juniperus saxatilis Lindl. & Gordon, Juniperus suecica Mill., Juniperus taurica Lindl. & Gordon, Juniperus uralensis Beissn., Juniperus vulgaris Bubani [Illegitimate], Juniperus withmanniana Carriére, Sabina dealbata (Loudon) Antoine, Thuiaecarpus juniperinus Trautv. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Common juniper, juniper, malchangel [2]
France Genévrier, genièvre commun [2]
Spain Enebro [2]
  Germany Gemeine Wacholder, Walcholder [2]
Italy Ginepro, ginepro commune [2]
Portugal Zimbreiro [2]
Sweden En [2].

Geographical Distributions

Juniperus communis is commonly found in temperate regions such as Europe, Asia and North America where it is listed as ‘threatened’ or ‘endangered’ in several states. [2][3]

Botanical Description

J. communis is a shrub or small tree in a family of Cupressaceae that can reach height up until 10 m.

The leaves are sharp, needle-like but somewhat flattened, and ternate, with a single white stomatal band on the upper side.

The female flowers develop seed cones, which have fused scales and are round and berry-like, up to 1 cm in diameter.

Seed cones ripen to blue or black with a glaucous (wavy) coating, and typically contain 3 to 6 seeds. [4]

The essential oil of J. communis is colourless, pale green or yellow in colour with a crisp, balsamic, conifer-like aroma. [5]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

Alcohol extract of J. communis fruits has been reported to contain terpenene compounds (e.g. α-pinene, β-pinene, sabinene, limonene, and mircene. [6][7][8][9]

Plant Part Used

Berries. [3][8][9]

Traditional Use

The berries (or the fruit) have been used in a prescription that is mostly made up of spices to treat rheumatism. In India, the berries are used as a diuretic and a stimulant. It is also used to relieve gonorrhoea. [4]

Preclinical Data


Antimicrobial activity

J. communis essential oil was shown to be an important antimicrobial agent. The oil was tested against both gram +/- bacteria and showed inhibitory effects. In addition, J. communis also showed antifungal properties against fungi and yeast-like fungi, especially against Candida strains. [8]

In another study, J. communis oil, among other oils, was tested against Gram (+) Staphylococcus epidermidis and the Gram (-) Escherichia coli F'lac K12 LE140, and on two yeast strains. The results demonstrated antimicrobial activity against all. [10]

Essential oil of J. communis also tested on P. acnes showed it as a potent anti-acne topical formulation for treatment of the skin. [11]

Anticancer activity

The oil of J. communis inhibited heat shock-induced apoptosis in human astrocytes. [12]

Antioxidant activity

J. communis leaves extract has been demonstrated to exhibit antioxidant properties that would be considered consistent with the requirements for food preservation. [13]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


J. communis is considered to be an abortifacient and should be completely avoided by pregnant women as well as those who are nursing. [7][14]

While there is limited safety information on the oil, it is considered safe when used as directed. [15]

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Juniperus communis L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 09]. Available from:
  2. U.S. National Plant Germplasm System. Juniperus communis L. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2007 July 17; cited 2016 May 09]. Available from:
  3. Burkill IH. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 2. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 1272-1273.
  4. Encyclopedia of Life. Juniperus communis. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 May 09]. Available from:
  5. Surburg H, Panten H. Common fragrance and flavour materials: Preparation, properties and uses. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2006; p. 211.
  6. Filipowicz N, Piotrowski A, Ochocka JR, Asztemborska M. The phytochemical and genetic survey of common and dwarf junifer (Juniperus communis and Juniperus nana) identifies chemical races and close taxonomic identity of the species. Planta Med. 2006;72(9):850-853.
  7. Final report on the safety assessment of Juniperus communis extract, Juniperus oxycedrus extract, Juniperus oxycedrus tar, Juniperus phoenicea extract, and Juniperus virginiana extract. Int J Toxicol. 2001;20(2):41-56.
  8. Pepeljnjak S, Kosalec I, Kalodera Z, Blazević N. Antimicrobial activity of juniper berry essential oil (Juniperus communis L., Cupressaceae). Acta Pharm. 2005;55(4):417-422.
  9. Angioni A, Barra A, Russo MT, Corneo V, Dessi S, Cabras P. Chemical composition of the essential oils of Juniperus from ripe and unripe berries and leaves and their antimicrobial activity. J Agric Food Chem. 2003;7(51):3073-3078.
  10. Schelz Z, Molnar J, Hohmann J. Antimicrobial and antiplasmid activities of essential oils. Fitoterpia. 2006;77(4):279-285.
  11. Gavini E, Sanna V, Sharma R. Solid Lipid Microparticles (SLM) containing juniper oil as anti-acne topical carriers: Preliminary studies. Pharm Dev Technol. 2005;10(4):479-487.
  12. Na HJ, Koo HN, Lee GG. Juniper oil inhibits the heat shock-induced apoptosis via preventing the caspase-3 activation in human astrocytes CCF-STTG1 cells. Clin Chim Acta. 2001;314(1-2):215-220.
  13. Emami SA, Javadi B, Hassanzadeh MK. Antioxidant activity of the essential oils of different parts of Juniperus communis subsp. hemisphaerica and Juniperus oblonga. Pharm Biol. 2007;45(10):769-776.
  14. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.
  15. Schilcher H, Leuschner F. The potential nephrotoxic effects of essential juniper oil. Arzneimittelforschung. 1997;47(7):855-858. German.