[Herbalist] Iasmin's Current 4 Favorite Balm Recipes

Lauri Murakami lauri.murakami at worldnet.att.net
Sat Nov 3 09:45:41 PST 2001


I know this post was some time ago but I finally got around to doing
some investigation regarding the type of juniper we have here.  I had to
take a sample in to the local Forest Service and they gave me the
species name - Juniperus californica.  I found several sites with
species information and it seems the berries were eaten by Native
Americans in cake form.  Other documents state it was used in raw and
floured form.  I would assume they are not poisonous. The only piece of
information I am at odds with is can I use this in the preparation and
would It perform as Juniperus communis, Though they seem to be related.
Even the varieties of Juniperus communis seem to be scattered all over
the globe with most of the variations in North America.    I did find
some documented use by different Indian tribes.  I am sorry if this post
it long but I wanted to enclose some of the information I did find.  I
guess I wanted to get you input on what I have found and if I could use
what I have available to me.

Lauri Murakami


Native Americans used California juniper wood for sinew-backed bows.
They also ground up the berries (ie. fleshy cones) and molded them into
cakes, which were said to taste sweet [33].


Juniperus californica, a gymnosperm in the family Cupressaceae, is a
shrub that is native to California [Hrusa] and is endemic (limited) to
California alone [Lum/Walker].


Juniperus californica Carr.
; Cupressaceae

Costanoan Tribe
Decoction of leaves taken for pain and to cause sweating.
Berries used for food.

Bocek, Barbara R. 1984 Ethnobotany of Costanoan Indians, California,
on Collections by John P. Harrington. Economic Botany
38(2):240-255 (6)

Mahuna Drug
Infusion of berries taken or berries chewed for grippe fevers.

Romero, John Bruno 1954 The Botanical Lore of the California Indians.
York. Vantage Press, Inc. (9)

Diegueno Tribe
Infusion of leaves and bark taken for high blood pressure and hangovers.
Fruit eaten, informally only, or in times of starvation.

Hinton, Leanne 1975 Notes on La Huerta Diegueno Ethnobotany. Journal of
California Anthropology 2:214-222 (216)

Cahuilla Food
Berries eaten fresh or sun dried and preserved for future use.
Dried berries ground into a flour and used to make mush or bread.

Bean, Lowell John and Katherine Siva Saubel 1972 Temalpakh (From the
Earth); Cahuilla Indian Knowledge and Usage of Plants. Banning, CA.
Malki Museum Press (81)

Mendocino Indian Food
Dried fruits boiled and eaten.

Chestnut, V. K. 1902 Plants Used by the Indians of Mendocino County,
California. Contributions from the U.S. National Herbarium 7:295-408.


Juniperus communis Linnaeus 1753

Common Names
Common juniper, genévrier commun (2), Siberian juniper, dwarf juniper.
Taxonomic notes
Syn: Juniperus sibirica (1). Six varieties, communis, depressa,
hemisphaerica (J. Presl & C. Presl) Parlatore, megistocarpa, montana,
and oblonga.
"Juniperus communis is the most widespread juniper species, and many
subspecies and varieties have been described. A major study, including
chemical characters, is needed to clarify the taxonomy" (2).

"Shrubs or small trees dioecious, to 4 m (if trees, to 10 m),
multistemmed, decumbent or rarely upright; crown generally depressed.
Bark brown, fibrous, exfoliating in thin strips, that of small
branchlets (5-10 mm diam.) smooth, that of larger branchlets exfoliating
in strips and plates. Branches spreading or ascending; branchlets erect,
terete. Leaves green but sometimes appearing silver when glaucous,
spreading, abaxial glands very elongate; adaxial surface with glaucous
stomatal band; apex acute to obtuse, mucronate. Seed cones maturing in 2
years, of 2 distinct sizes, with straight peduncles, globose to ovoid,
6-13 mm, bluish black, glaucous, resinous to obscurely woody, with 2-3
seeds. Seeds 4-5 mm. 2n = 22" (2).
W & N Asia, N America, Europe, N Africa (1). See also (7).
Big Tree
"The tallest common juniper in Sweden is 18,5 high and grows at Lake
Glypen in the province of Östergötland. The largest ... is found at Råå
in the province of Närke. It has a girth of 2,8 m. at breast-height"
Ages to 600 years have been reported without supporting data (5).
The seed cones are used to flavor gin (2).
The only juniper species that occurs in both North America and Eurasia.
(1) Silba 1986.
(2) Adams, Robert P. in Flora of North America online.

(3) Elmore & Janish 1976.

(4) van Gelderen et al. 1986.

(5) Forest Sweden: The Swedish Forests. No date or author. URL =
http://www-forest.slu.se/skogen/eng/omtrad.cfm, accessed 5-Jun-1999.

(6) Common Scottish Plants page at the Flora Celtica. No date or author.
URL = http://www.rbge.org.uk/data/celtica/Plantuses.htm, accessed

(7) Robert S. Thompson, Katherine H. Anderson and Patrick J. Bartlein.
1999. Atlas of Relations Between Climatic Parameters and Distributions
of Important Trees and Shrubs in North America. U.S. Geological Survey
Professional Paper 1650 A&B. URL=
accessed 6-Apr-2001.

See also:

Elias 1987.

Little 1980.

Vascular Plant Image Gallery.

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