Juniperus alpina Lodd.
Juniperus arenaria (E.H.Wilson) Florin
Juniperus chinensis arenaria E.H.Wilson
Juniperus chinensis expansa-variegata Hornibr.
Juniperus chinensis parsonsii Hornibr.
Juniperus davurica Pall.
Juniperus davurica arenaria (E.H.Wilson) R.P.Adams
Juniperus excelsa Willd.
Juniperus foetida davurica (Pall.) Spach
Juniperus humilis Salisb.
Juniperus lusitanica Mill.
Juniperus squamata albovariegata L.H.Bailey
Juniperus squamata variegata L.H.Bailey
Juniperus tamariscifolia K.Koch
Sabina alpestris Jord.
Sabina cupressifolia Antoine ex K.Koch
Sabina davurica (Pall.) Antoine
Sabina officinalis Garcke
Sabina tamariscifolia K.Koch
Sabina villarsii Jord.
Sabina vulgaris Antoine
Sabina vulgaris arborescens Antoine
Common Name: Savine
Juniperus sabina is an evergreen shrub with branches partly decumbent, partly ascending; it can grow up to 4 metres tall, but is more likely to be less than 2.5 metres[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials.It has at times been grown as a medicinal plant, with records dating back to at least the 8th century BCE[
]. The plant is also often grown as an ornamental, there are many named forms.
This is one of the most widespread conifer species in the world, occurring in habitats such as alpine-subalpine meadows with rocky outcrops and steppes or semi-deserts, that are not under serious environmental pressures globally. The plant is classified as 'Least Concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species(2013)[
The whole plant is poisonous and can produce abortions[
The foliage and the seeds contain sabinol (a terpenic alcohol) and gallic acid, which is transformed into pyrogallol. Consumption of the foliage causes a severe irritation of all mucous membranes. The sabinol attacks the nervous system, causing convulsions. The pyrogallol blocks the intestinal circuit completely. Death occurs quickly[
Eurasia - Germany to Spain, east through Siberia, the Caucasus and Turkey to the Russian Far East, Mongolia, China and Korea; N. Africa - Algeria
Montane to subalpine coniferous forests; invading alpine meadows, most abundant on sunny, dry slopes in mountains with a mesic climate, often on limestone but also on granitic rock, especially on drier slopes; at elevations from 700 - 3,000 metres[
|Conservation Status||Least Concern
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
Juniperus sabina is a very cold-hardy plant, able to tolerate temperatures down to around -35°c when fully dormant[
]. This species is most abundant on sunny, dry slopes in mountains with a mesic climate like the Alps; its drought tolerance accounts for its wider distribution in Asia into the Artemisia steppe and desert zones[
Succeeds in most soils if they are well drained, preferring a neutral or slightly alkaline soil[
]. Prefers a limestone soil[
]. Succeeds in poor soils and in light shade[
]. Established plants are drought tolerant, succeeding in hot dry positions[
]. Tolerates maritime exposure[
A very ornamental plant[
], there are many named varieties[
All parts of the plant have a powerful pungent smell[
Plants can be dioecious or monoecious. Male and female plants must usually be grown if fruit and seed are required.
The plant is sometimes attacked by a rust, this is a fungus with an aecidial stage on the leaves of pear trees[
]. Plants are resistant to honey fungus[
The globose or broadly top-shaped fruit is dark brown, ultimately covered with a blue bloom; it is 6 - 8mm in diameter, usually containing two seeds[
]. We have no records of any edible uses.
The young shoots are abortifacient, diuretic, emetic, powerfully emmenagogue and irritant[
]. The plant is rarely used internally but is useful as an ointment and dressing to blisters etc in order to promote discharge[
]. The powdered leaves are also used in the treatment of warts[
]. The shoots are harvested in spring and dried for later use[
]. Use with great caution and never during pregnancy[
], see notes above on toxicity.
An essential oil from the leaves and shoots has strong diuretic properties[
The fresh, red seed cones are swallowed as a treatment for stomach disorders[
A tar obtained from the wood is mixed with flour and taken orally as a treatment for eczema. It is pounded with candle wax to form pills and taken orally to treat scabies[
The green branchlets contain up to 17% of an essential oil. It is used as emmenagogue and abortive agent. The action is so strong that in Germany, where it is considered to be a beautiful ornamental shrub, it is banned from general-purpose gardens, as being toxic[
The taller forms of this species make a good hedge[
A good dense ground cover plant, though it is slow to cover the ground[
]. The species type eventually forms a high ground cover, but there are many named forms that are lower-growing[
]. The sub-species J. sabina tamariscifolia has been particularly recommended[
]. Plants should be spaced about 1.2 metres apart each way[
Leaves are used as an insect repellent, a decoction of them is used against lice[
An essential oil from the leaves and shoots has strong diuretic properties and is also used in perfumery[
]. Yields of around 4% are obtained, this oil is also used as an insecticide[
The wood is of little value, but was traditionally used in the Alps to make walking sticks[
The seed requires a period of cold stratification. The seed has a hard seedcoat and can be very slow to germinate, requiring a cold period followed by a warm period and then another cold spell, each of 2 - 3 months duration[
]. Soaking the seed for 3 - 6 seconds in boiling water may speed up the germination process[
]. The seed is best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Some might germinate in the following spring, though most will take another year. Another possibility is to harvest the seed 'green' (when the embryo has fully formed but before the seedcoat has hardened). The seedlings can be potted up into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. Grow on in pots until large enough, then plant out in early summer. When stored dry, the seed can remain viable for several years[
Cuttings of mature wood, 5 - 10cm with a heel, September/early autumn in a cold frame. Plant out in the following autumn[
Layering in September/early autumn. Takes 12 months[