There are at least two subspecies of juniper. The best known, J. communis communis, whose bushes vary between a metre and 10 metres tall, can form tall, conical spires and often appear to have been trimmed into exotic shapes. The evergreen leaves are dark green and the stems are fiercely prickly. The dark purple berries are famous for being used as flavouring for gin. The other subspecies of the plant, J. communis nana, is a matted shrub that grows close to the ground. There might also be a third subspecies, J. communis hemisphaerica, found on sea cliffs in Cornwall and Pembrokeshire. Juniper has been part of human life for centuries. The spiny branches were used as an early form of barbed wire and the berries, as well as flavouring, were used in ancient medicines for horses as well as humans.
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