Oldfield Common Juniper is a Wisconsin native groundcover evergreen. It’s a cold hardy, shrubby evergreen which inhabits the sandy hills of the Kettle Moraine and the clay bluffs along Lake Michigan. Ours are produced from locally collected seed. This plant is tolerant of poor, shallow soils, and sunny, windy sites. Its green-needle foliage and blue seed cones (‘berries’) are characteristic of Junipers. This native plant is slow growing, long-lived, and valuable to both wildlife and their ecosystems. May also be known as Canadian Juniper.
Seed cones are prized by birds, including the American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, Cedar Waxwings, and Wild Turkeys! They provide a critical source of food for birds and small mammals in winter. Due to the prickly nature of its foliage, small mammals and birds may use it for nesting habitat, while deer usually prefer other, less-prickly options.
At least one native insect feeds on the leaves and other parts of Oldfield Common Juniper: Evergreen Bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis). Other moth species also use this evergreen as feed, but those species are typically found in the eastern US.
Overwatering and poor drainage are the main causes for concern. After establishing, Oldfield Common Juniper is drought tolerant and requires little, if any, pruning. Take care when siting this evergreen; since it prefers full sun, site it further away from encroaching forests so it doesn’t become shaded out.
Oldfield Common Juniper thrives in nutrient poor conditions – don’t over-fertilize!
Oldfield Common Juniper produces an edible fruit. The consistency of the fruit when ripe is soft, mealy, and sweet with resinous flesh. The fruit has been traditionally made into a syrup, flavor for gin, and spicing up culinary dishes. Medicinally, the fruit was used as a diuretic, rheumatic pains, scurvy, and fevers. Juniper was burned in the Middle Ages to cleanse the air and ward off Plague.
Does not tolerate wildfires because the resinous and flammable foliage.
This plant is listed as ‘Threatened’ in Illinois.
Oldfield Common Juniper can develop a picturesque windswept look with age, usually seen on the bluffs of Lake Michigan.
Pair this native evergreen with other plants that thrive in full sun, don’t grow too tall (so as not to shade out the juniper), and prefer drier sites. Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), Bush Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa), Creeping Juniper (Juniperus horizontalis), Prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa), and Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa) would grow quite happily alongside Oldfield Common Juniper – plus they’re all Native!