Latin name: Juniperus communis ssp. communis

Family: Cupressacea

If you’ve ever had a gin and tonic, then you’ve probably come across juniper as its berries are used to flavour this popular spirit. It also has other culinary uses such as for flavouring sauces for meat dishes.

In the Yorkshire Dales National Park, juniper grows in a variety of forms, ranging from a spreading shrub to a column-like tree.

The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has made a commitment to help to conserve Juniper by implementing the Local Biodiversity Action Plan. As well as encouraging landowners and land managers to manage juniper populations in a way that will allow natural regeneration, National Park staff have also gained permission from Natural England and landowners of the largest populations to collect juniper seed. This seed is then propagated and grown on to a saleable size by specialist tree nursery Cheviot Trees. Once large enough the plants are available  for suitable new native woodland plantings within the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

At risk?

This species was once widespread in the upland fringes of northern England, growing often as an understorey shrub in open woodland of birch, rowan, alder, hawthorn and hazel. However, nationally there was a dramatic reduction in Juniper distribution due to a combination of factors including changes in land management. In addition, in 2012 the fungal disease Phytophera austrocedrae was confirmed in the wild populations of Juniper in Teesdale (North Pennines). Forest Research are carrying out work to determine the extent to which wild Juniper populations have been affected by the disease. To date 2 populations have been confirmed as being infected in the National Park, these are at Harkerside Moor in Swaledale and Moughton  between Ribblesdale and Crummackdale. As a precautionary measure seed collecting and propagation is currently on hold in the National Park. For more information please follow the weblinks provided to the right.

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Still summer’s song beats in my blood Alan Hartley

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