Juniperus sabina

Juniperus sabina

Juniperus sabina (Savin Juniper or Savin) is a species of juniper native to the mountains of central and southern Europe and western and central Asia, from Spain east to eastern Siberia, typically growing at altitudes of 1,000-3,300 m.

It is a shrub, very variable in shape, reaching 1-4 m tall. The leaves are of two forms, juvenile needle-like leaves 5-10 mm long, and adult scale-leaves 1-2 mm long on slender shoots 0.8-1 mm thick. Juvenile leaves are found mainly on seedlings but mature shrubs sometimes continue to bear some juvenile leaves as well as adult, particularly on shaded shoots low in the crown. It is largely dioecious with separate male and female plants, but some individual plants produce both sexes. The cones are berry-like, 5-9 mm in diameter, blue-black with a whitish waxy bloom, and contain 1-3 (rarely 4 or 5) seeds; they are mature in about 18 months. The male cones are 2-4 mm long, and shed their pollen in early spring.

There are two varieties, treated by some botanists as distinct species:

  • Juniperus sabina var. sabina. Juvenile foliage rare in adult plants.
  • Juniperus sabina var. davurica (Pallas) Farjon (syn. J. davurica Pallas). Juvenile foliage frequent in adult plants.

Juniperus sabina is a popular ornamental shrub in gardens and parks, with numerous named cultivars selected.

The hybrid between Juniperus chinensis and Juniperus sabina, known as Juniperus × pfitzeriana (Pfitzer Juniper, synonym J. × media), is found in the wild where the two species meet in northwestern China, and is also very common as a cultivated ornamental plant. It is a larger shrub, growing to 3-6 m tall.

All parts of the plant are poisonous due to several toxic compounds including ethereal oils.

References

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