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Common Juniper

The common juniper (Juniperus communis) is widely known as a juniper tree. As a cypress species, many can be found  on dry, nutrient-poor, calcareous soil.

The stingy leaves of the common juniper are needle-shaped and have a length of up to 15mm. The globular berries are cone-shaped. Initially greenish, they later turn blue-black and ripen in the second or even only the  third year after pollination.

The healing powers of the essential oils and tanning agents in its fruit have been known of for a long time. Still today it is often seen as a guard (in German: Wachhalter) next to graves. It is common belief that it helps the souls of the dead on their passage into the afterworld.

The common juniper is very common in the dry pine forests along the Lech river. It also appears as a tree there with a height of up to 8m. In the rest of Tirol common juniper trees are only known of in three other locations. In 1960 these populations were declared as being a “natural monument” by decree of the Tirolean Nature Conservation Law. A “natural monument” is a natural formation which should be preserved because of its rarity, uniqueness or beauty, or because of its scientific, historic, or cultural importance, and also because of its specific relevance to the  landscape.   If there is a public interest, the district’s authority can declare a natural monument by decree – Tirolean Nature Conservation Law, and thereby place a preservation order.

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