Guest post and photos by Marcia in Rhode Island.
Every family has one. A non-conformist.
In the pine family, juniper is the rebel. Unlike its cousin, the slender and erect red cedar, juniper spreads low to the ground, sloppily, in all directions. Another cousin, white pine, can be lumbered, while juniper is almost impossible to uproot. And a third cousin, hemlock, has feathery soft needles; juniper’s are nasty, vicious little things.
Most of the pine cousins have woody cones that send seeds flying into the wind; the fruits start off as a cluster of fleshy scale, and when they dry out, they look like the familiar pine cones.
Juniper holds its cones tightly on the branches; the scales stay fleshy and look like berries, but they’re not. What we call juniper berries are actually soft purplish “pine cones”.