Juniper: plant and its properties

Juniper: plant and its properties

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Juniper, a plant rich in properties and flavors even if, thinking of the saying “being in a hitch”, which metaphorically indicates a difficult and problematic situation, it does not immediately make a great impression. Instead, it is worth getting to know her better, because if with patience we know how to go beyond hers intricate branches and to its pungent leaves, we discover a spice with antiseptic and expectorant properties. A useful digestive, a cough remedy, a precious ingredient in the kitchen.

Juniper: the plant

There juniper plant, in technical language called Juniperus, is actually a larger category of several species of plants that belongs to the Cupressaceae family. There is the common juniper, but there are also many other types of juniper that we know well even if we are not aware of them.Some are highly appreciated for the quality of the wood and among these there is, for example Juniperus virginiana, other times it is the aesthetic characteristics that stand out. The Juniperus sabina and Juniperus rigida these are just two of the many species of juniper used for ornamental purposes and which are very successful.

Common Juniper

Known as "common", or as simply juniper, the Juniperus communis, is an evergreen shrub like the other colleagues. In his case the dimensions are very variable, they are one meter high as well as 10 meters, there are many factors that influence the growth, environmental and otherwise.The juniper leaves common are needle-like and flanked in the right season by berries also called cuddles. They are imperfect spheres of blue, tending to purple, covered with an opaque film which in jargon is called bloom. The common type in Italy is really common, it is found in abundant quantities in the Alps but also in the Apennines up to Lazio. It has also been sighted in Sardinia.

Juniper: property

In addition to the aesthetic qualities, the juniper plant has valuable healing properties. It is known as stomachic, for example, and since ancient times it has been known that chewing its berries facilitates digestion. It is also among the natural antiseptics, above all it acts on the urinary and respiratory tract and is therefore useful to treat urinary stones, against cough or as an expectorant.Changing gender, of properties, there are also antirheumatic ones, through the'essential oil which we find widely used by those who do and receive massages. This precious blend serves to relax contracted muscles, prevents cramps and tones connective tissues.Going to consult the ancient beliefs of folk medicine, we can then learn how the juniper was in the past intended as a natural remedy for many ailments, sometimes rightly, sometimes a little randomly.The success rate of the treatment suggested for example in the nineteenth century by theGerman Abbot Sebastian Kneipp: the religious told the sick with the flu to wrap themselves in a blanket heated by the vapors of a pot in which they boiled berries and juniper branches. If we want, nothing prevents us from trying to follow his advice today, at our "risk" and peril.

Juniper: berries

With just over a euro you can find jars of Juniper berries. What to do with it is not a question that you have to ask yourself because there is only one to choose from among many interesting and useful options. I propose two of them, my favorites and those on which I can personally promise success. Tastes aside.Speaking of boiling, you can also get a excellent infusion leaving about 15 grams of crushed berries in 1 liter of boiling water to infuse for 5 minutes. The recommended dose for this aromatic drink is 2 cups, in order to promote benefits on diuresis, cough and urinary tract.There is also the possibility of preparing a juniper macerate to be consumed after meals to limit heartburn. Berries, about ten grams, must be left to macerate for 2 weeks, crushed in 1 liter of white wine with a lemon zest. Then it should be enjoyed, one glass at a time.

Juniper in the kitchen

Beyond the final digestive, passing through the maceration, the juniper it appears at the table and has been doing so since ancient times, already in Roman times it was a popular ingredient, as an "indispensable spice in a cook's kitchen and an excellent substitute for pepper". For those who can not get an idea of ​​his flavor, it tends to be acidulous, so perfect if you want to tone down strong foods like game and sauerkraut. Or to give character to potato dishes or baked fish.Even in the preparation of spirits, juniper can be taken into account using fermented juice. Distilling is obtained juniper and brandy, or with more complex processes, gin is also obtained. Not just berries: wood is also useful in the kitchen. Being very fragrant, it is a way to smoke cured meats such as speck from Trentino.If baked, in wood-fired ovens it means, it gives aroma to the bread. And the kitchen utensils? They too can be juniper, and its aroma is also released in this way until it reaches and flavor the foods we are cooking. Just imagine a flavored ladle that mixes the polenta.

Juniper bonsai

In Japan some shrubs are used in Japan in the art of Bonsai, particularly appreciated because they allow for very original and daring forms. In particular I am referring to the Juniperus rigida and al Juniperus chinensis.Another feature that plays in favor of these two types is resistance to climatic and cultivation adversities. Among the various bonsai, therefore, there is one easy to maintain plant even for those who are not a true master inbonsai art.Do not panic for any summer “dry blows”, or for severe winter frosts.

Prickly juniper

The species bearing this curious name is actually an important subspecies of Red Juniper. This "cuddly" is a reference to the cuddles that are precisely the berries produced. Also this time two white lines appear in the needles, shorter than average, the plant also stands out for its less upright and vertical appearance. The prickly juniper it is widespread above all in the coastal areas of the Mediterranean basin, it appears with an air of a bush, an irregular crown of up to 6 meters.It has a gray-brown bark, blooms from January to March and bears fruit in the autumn of the following year. We find it in areas with sandy dunes used for their consolidation or as a windbreak. It is also sought after for wood: compact, hard, very resistant and very fragrant, if it is smoothed and inlaid, it is excellent for statues, boats, beams and attics. With the berries of coccolone you can instead prepare jams and preserves, table liqueurs or for medicinal use.

Juniper: essential oil

Juniper essential oil is perfect for a relaxing and emollient massage, especially when combined with that of almonds or jojoba. In the meantime, with 4 euros we can easily get a 10 ml bottle of juniper leaf essential oil.Among the properties attributed to this substance we find those purifying and draining. It would therefore be useful for detoxifying the body in a natural way by acting on the kidneys and lymphatic system so as to help our body expel toxins and waste. To find out more, read the article in which we deepen the topic: "Juniper essential oil, properties and uses”.

Curiosities about juniper

The name juniper, although not cuddly, derives from the Celtic word juneprus which means “acrid”, obviously from its flavor. Seeing is believing. This plant also appears in a fable by the Brothers Grimm and in many popular stories and beliefs. It also has its role in religion: it would have been blessed by the Virgin as the only plant that, according to a medieval legend, sheltered the Holy Family during the flight into Egypt.Still at the level of unverified beliefs, it is said that juniper still has the power to keep away witches and evil spirits. We can try to see if it works by hanging branches on the door. The ancients did it with the doors of the stables to preserve the health of the cattle.If you liked this article keep following me also on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and ... elsewhere you have to find me!You may also be interested in the following articles:Medicinal plants: fact sheets and listNarcissus: flower and propertiesGinko Biloba: plant and cultivationPrivet: hedge tree Evergreen garden trees

Video: Step by Step Juniper Cutting Propagation- 100% Success, उगए जनपर कटग, Be The Creator, (January 2023).