The junipers form a genus of 55 species of evergreen trees and shrubs of the pine family. They vary in habit from low, prostrate shrubs to tall, slender trees, and are widely cultivated. The leaves are of two types: needle-shaped, and usually bome in 3's, and small, scale-like leaves that are opposite and pressed close to the twigs. On young plants and vigorous branches the needle-shaped leaves predominate, while the scaly leaves are characteristic of the adult plant. On older plants, however, both types are often found together and many species, especially in the communis group, retain the needle-like leaves permanently. The flowers are insignilìcant; male flowers are borne in small, oval clusters (catkins); the female flowers are composed of little scales on which the ovules are borne; these scales later become fleshy, grow together and form a berry-like fruit that takes 1-3 years to ripen, depending on the species. (Juniperus is the old Latin name for these plants.) By some considered as belonging to the family Cupressaceae.
The junipers have a wide distribution in the northern hemisphere from the arctic regions to the sub-tropics. Their diverse habits make them valuable ornamental plants; the tall, columnar types are conspicuous planted singly or in groups, while the low, spreading types are excellent for plantings around buildings. An aromatic oil is obtained from the berries and branchlets of certain species; the wood is durable and usually fragrant. Although a moderately moist, loamy soil is preferred, some species, as J. communis, will thrive in dry , rocky places. Propagation is by cuttings, seeds, layering and sometimes grafting.
This is an upright tree or shrub usually growing about 6-12 ft. high, though occasionally it attains 40 ft. The leaves are all needle-like, with a broad white band above, sharply pointed, spreading and in whorls. The fruit is about 1/4 in. in diameter, bluish-black, bloomy, used to flavor gin (and grappa/rakija). N.A. south to Pa., IIl., and in the mountains of N. Mex. and northern Cal. Also in Eurasia. Hardy from zone 1 southward.
This species is quite variable and has many good varieties. Var. depressa, the prostrate juniper, is a wide.spreading, low-growing fonn that rarely exceeds 3 or 4 ft. in height; it does well in dry, rocky soil; var. depressa aurea is a form of var. depressa in which the young growth is often yellow; var. hibernica, Irish juniper, a narrow, columnar form with upright, erect-tipped branches and rather short, dark green leaves, a good accent plant, often needs support; var. oblonga.pendula, a graceful, columnar shrub with narrow leaves and upright branches whose tips are pendulous; var. suecica. Swedish juniper: a columnar form with bluish. green leaves, the ends of the twigs drooping.
Comune in luoghi aridi e boschivi, fiorisce tra febbraio ed aprile. Si presenta come alberello alto fino a cinque metri in pianura e come arbusto cespuglioso in montagna. Secondo Catone il Censore, il vino medicamentoso ricavato dalle bacche di ginepro era utilizzato per guarire le sciatiche. Anche Virgilio ne parla diffusamente mettendo in evidenza il carattere aspro delle bacche dal quale deriverebbe il nome. Infatti nella terminologia celtica, junipernus potrebbe significare "asprezza".
Le bacche di ginepro sono molto usate ai nostri giorni non solo in medicina naturale, ma anche per correggere cibi particolarmente forti quali selvaggina o crauti e per preparare liquori come il gin e i vermouth. Le bacche di ginepro, raccolte in autunno contengono un olio essenziale costituito da una miscela di sostanze terpeniche stimolanti dell’epitelio del glomerulo renale e comportano un minor riassorbimento di acqua in transito aumentandone l’eliminazione. Si ha così un’azione diuretica intensa con drenaggio di cloruri ed urea. Gli stessi terpeni esplicano un’azione antisettica delle vie urinarie.
Specie urologica di ginepro, antisettico e urinario:
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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran