One-Seeded Juniper - Juniperus monosperma

Ethnobotanical Uses


"The One-seeded Juniper - Juniperus monosperma is used by the native Americans as food, medicine construction and crafts. Puebloans both ancestral and modern use the berries for food. The berries can be eaten either raw or stewed with meat." (Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"The principal individual, non-commercial use of juniper berries today is as a nibble and as a woodsy seasoning. A few will take the edge off hunger. Too many, though, are irritating to the kidneys. In fact, a diuretic is made from the fruit, a teaspoon to a cup of boiling water, drunk cold, a large mouthful at a time, one or two cups a day." (Angier 114)

"Juniper tea, quaffed in small amounts, is one of the decidedly pleasant and vitamin-rich evergreen beverages. Add about a dozen young berryless sprigs to a quart of cold water. Bring this to a boil, cover, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for ten minutes. Then remove from the fire and steep another ten minutes. Strain and serve like regular tea. For really high Vitamin C content, though, steep overnight after covering with boiling water." (Angier 114)

"Indians used to dry and grind juniper berries and use them for cake and for mush. These berries, too. were sometimes roasted for a coffee substitute. The ripe fruit was also sometimes crushed and sieved and used like butter." (Angier 114)

Recipe 1: Raw Juniper Berries

"One of the most rewarding ways to eat wild foods is raw, straight from the plant. It allows you to experience the plant and understand its properties in a pure and powerful form that just doesn't happen when it gets mixed up in a fancy recipe.

Hiking along any trail in our region, you will pass one form of juniper or another. I like to pick the green tender berries and the older blue ones. (Warning: Berries are strong tasting, sort of like peppercorns but not really. --- don't overconsume).

Variation: Eat 1 juniper berry together with 1 rose hip. (Seeds are edible.) Both can be found hanging from bushes year-round." (Morgan 199)

Recipe 2: Simple Lamb or Venison Stew with Crushed Juniper Berries

"Combine in a slow cooker: 2 pounds lamb or venison with bones, 12 crushed fresh or dried juniper berries, 4 carrots (chopped), 4 stalks celery (chopped), 3 potatoes (cubed), 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, 5 bay leaves, 1 jalapeno (or less to taste). Fill slow cooker with water.

Cook on high for several hours. Once beans are soft and fully cooked,add salt and pepper to taste. Add additional water during cooking if needed." (Morgan 199)

"Berries pounded with yucca fruit to make a gravy."(Moerman 290)


"Some tribes cooked juniper berries into a mush and dried it in cakes for winter use. --- Dried, roasted juniper berries were ground and used as a coffee substitute. --- Juniper berries were chewed to relieve cold symptoms, settle upset stomachs and increase appetite. --- Tea made from the branches and cones was used to treat fevers, colds, coughs and pneumonia. This tea was also heated to soak arthritic and rheumatic joints."(Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"A tea made from the juniper berries has worked as a diuretic and for internal chills by Santa Clarans and tea from leaf sprigs for colds, stomach disorders, constipation, and rheumatism by various other Puebloans." (Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"Primarily a urinary tract herb, most frequently used for cystitis and urethritis. The berries are the most effective.) --- The aromatic properties of all parts of Juniper plants have been used against bad magic, plague, and various negative influences in so many cultures ---. --- the Juniper berries, dry or moistened, can be thrown on hot rocks in saunas, sweat lodges, and the like, and the dried crushed leaves can be used as an incense." (Moore 94)

"Juniper bark has been boiled and bathed in by Sandians to relieve itch from spider bites, and a powder from inside the bark has been used by Chochitis for earaches. The inhabitants of several pueblos burn juniper branches in their homes when fumigation is needed, sometimes to relieve colds, or often simply for the clean, woodsy fragrance." (Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"Infusion of berries taken on three successive days for birth control." (Moerman 290)

Other Uses:

"The wood has been used in endless ways, including for fuel, construction, and smaller implements, such as bows, digging sticks, and basket frames. The soft bark was formerly employed in matting, and in the late 1940's the young women of San Ildefonso were still crushing and shredding juniper bark as an absorbent packing around the bottoms of their babies to keep them dry and sweet smelling." (Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"Several artisans at San Juan (Ohkay Owingeh), a pueblo noted for its lovely plant-formed jewelry, work drilled and shellacked juniper berries into their handcrafted seed necklaces." (Dunmire and Tierney 107)

"Bark woven into garments and used to make sandals. Dry bark mixed with mud and worn as clothing during hard times." (Moerman 290)

"Wood used for kindling and fuel. --- Wood used to make dice" (Moerman 290)

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