The juniper is a hardy tree that needs full sun and can tolerate dry and well drained soil. Junipers are often seen as pests to farmers, because once established, they can be difficult to get rid of. Many animals do not like the taste of the needles, so most animals only eat the berries. Three types of juniper grow in New England.
Common juniper (Juniperus communis)
The Common juniper is also known as the Pasture juniper. This plant has sharp pointed needles of about 1/4 inch, with a white stripe down the center. The needles tend to grow upside down on the shrub. The Common juniper grows in low mats with male and female flowers on separate plants. The berries ripen after 2 to 3 years and turn from green to blue or black. These berries have been used to flavor gin.
Creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis)
The Creeping juniper is sometimes planted in exposed coastal settings, but is most often used as a groundcover. Like the Common Juniper, it grows in mats 1 to 2 feet tall and these shrubs get to be up to 8 feet in diameter.
Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
The Easter Red Cedar grows in traditional tree form and is sometimes planted to attract birds. There are two types of needles, pointed and thread-like. The bark is stringy and the wood is red with stripes. The wood is popular because it does not rot, and has been used to make pencils, fences and shingles. The oil from the wood is often used in perfumes and medical products. This tree is prone to get Cedar apple rust, which produces orange gooey ball formations on the tree in the spring. The spores from this rust infect apple tree leaves and their fruit.