Low Juniper, Creeping Juniper, Common Juniper
- Low evergreen shrub, 3 to 5 ft tall, with horizontally spreading branches and bark that is light gray and scaly.
- Shrub that can grow singly to almost impenetrable thickets on rocky meadows, forest clearings, and as undershrubs in open coniferous forests.
- Stiff, sharply-tipped, awl-shaped, bi-color leaves that are up to 2/3 inch long.
- Female plants recognized by their round stemless cones, which are initially green with fleshy cone scales that merge and turn purplish black upon maturity (after 18 moths), giving the cone a berry-like appearance.
- Low juniper is the most widespread conifer in the world.
- Native to the temperate zone in the Northern Hemisphere, it extends south from the Arctic and east from North America to Europe, Asia and Japan.
- With its wide distribution, this species has evolved into several varieties and subspecies.
- Bi-color leaves of green and one or two narrow white stripes.
- Bi-coloration uniquely identifies low juniper, easily separating it from other juniper species.
- Dried cones of other evergreens (pines, spruce, etc) disperse their seed via the wind.Juniper cones with its fleshy scales attract animals who eat the fruit, and pass the seeds through their droppings.
- In winter, leaves exposed to the sun turn rusty brown (called winterburn), while leaves protected from the sun remain green.
- When green, they are an essential ingredient in the manufacture of gin.
- Used for seasoning stews, meats, sauces and stuffing.
- Tea brewed from the berries have a spicy, gin-like flavor.
- Roasted seeds make a good coffee substitute.
- Disinfectant as used by North American Indians in the treatment of urinary-tract infections.
- Western Indian tribes used a combination of juniper berries with berberis-root bark for the treatment of diabetes.
- As a treatment for colds and sore throats.
- As a diuretic - juniper-berry tea cleanses the kidneys and bladder, and is effective in dissolving kidney stones.
Low juniper is common throughout the Park occurring along most of the trails.