Trees and Shrubs

Savin Juniper - Ginepro Sabino
Juniperus Sabina

Family: Cupressaceae 

This is a graceful, low evergreen shrub with ascending or spreading branches that ascend or spread at a high angle and flare out at the top, producing a goblet shape. It is usually about 4-5 ft. high, though sometimes attaining 10-15 ft., and is useful on soil which is too light and sandy for most growing things. Leaves dark green and of two types: needle-like in pairs, concave and glaucous above; on mature branches scale-like, rather thick and with a gland on the back. Flowers are dioecious and of no ornamental value. Fruit is globose/globular, 1/4 in. long brown berry-like cones covered wiht bluish bloom and found on recurved stakes,  4 to 6 scales. The bark is hard to see generally covered with needles. It has a wide-spreading habit and slow growth rate.

Native to mountains of central and southern Europe, western Asia to Siberia. Hardy from zone 3 southward.

One of the handsomest dwarf evergreens, it stands city conditions and likes limey soil. The whole plant has a strong, slightly disagreeable odor; var. eupressifolia, a low, almost prostrate form, usually with overlapping, scale-like leaves; var. tamariscifolia, a low form to which the leaves are mostly needle-like and borne in 3's.

A young Juniperus sabina 'Tamariscifolia' (Tamarix Juniper) with typical rounded top, branches arching out from the centre carrying the upward-facing branchlets of rich deep-green foliage, which is quite prickly to handle; the tiny leaves are mainly of juvenile type and sharp.

Juniperus sabina 'Tamariscifolia' (Tam/Tamarix Juniper)

A conifer that stands out among alI others as a distinct and recognisable form, 'Tamariscifolia' (above photograph) has been in cultivation for 200 years and will doubtless continue to be grown for a long time yet. It is technically a botanical variety, being found in the wild in Southern Europe, and is therefore often found listed as var. tamariscifolia. Poorly-nourished plants usually revert to adult foliage and the bluish-dark green color will fade to an unattractive dull green. It can be expected to make a tidy mound of foliage of 1.5m (4ft) wide by 50cm (20in) high in ten years and can be kept to this size if required by a yearly pruning. Two similar cultivars, 'Broadmoor' and 'Buffalo', have recently been introduced as compact-growing editions of 'Tamariscifolia'. Hardiness 5.

  • Conifer, evergreen, shrub, low spreading, mounded form, 18" (45 cm) high by 10 ft (30 m) across, branches horizontal and layered on each other, branchlets crowded, tend to arise from upper 30o of a branch. Leaves scale-like (4 ranked), sharp tipped, out spreading and, on older branchlets, awl-shaped, 2-3 mm long, blue-green. Like other J. sabina, leaves emit an unpleasant odor when crushed; difficult to detect in cold weather. 
  • Sun. Adaptable. Does well on limestone soil and well-drained and dry soils. Tolerates city conditions. 
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 Found in the wild on the mountains in Southern Europe, and may deserve the botanical categorization of variety (i.e., var.). Probably more than one clone in the nursery trade.  


  • Norman Taylor, Taylor's Encyclopedia of Gardening, 4th Edition, Houghton Mifflin Co. (Boston, 1961)
  • James & Louise Bush-Brown, America's Garden Book, Charles Scribner's Sons, printed by the Murray Printing Co. (Forge Village, 1965)
  • Ornamental Conifers, Hafner Press, a Division of Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (New York, 1975)
  • University of Connecticut plant data base -
  • Iconotheca botanica (Plant images collection of the Herbarium of Moscow University), Otto Wilhelm Thomè - Juniperus sabina -
  • Liber Herbarum II -
  • Oregon State University Horticulture, Landscape Plants - juniperus sabina -

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran

Created: Sunday, October 28, 2001; Updated Sunday, October 14, 2012
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