Conifers are a family of more than 700 species of trees and shrubs, the most famous of which are pines, spruces, firs, and cedars. It is easily recognized by its needle-like or scaly leaves and cone-shaped fruits.
Coniferous trees are often used as ornamental plants in gardens and parks, but some are edible and have been used by indigenous peoples since ancient times for food and medicine.
The needles of some coniferous trees, such as pine and spruce, can be eaten raw or cooked and have a resinous taste.
It is rich in vitamin C and was used to combat vitamin deficiencies in areas where fresh vegetables were scarce. Needles can be added to decoctions, salads, and soups to add a refreshing and aromatic taste.
However, the main focus of this article is to find out whether conifer berries are edible and what benefits they have.
Which Coniferous Trees Produce Edible Fruit Or Berries?
A variety of coniferous trees that bear fruit. As anyone who enjoys a good GIT will know, Juniper is a type of coniferous tree used to make gin.
Juniper berries are female seed cones produced by various species of juniper conifers. In fact, it is not a real berry but a cone with flesh and intertwined scales, giving it a berry-like appearance.
Juniper compressa is a vibrant evergreen dwarf conifer that is useful for any small garden, producing narrow, upright, cone-shaped fruits atop attractive bright green leaves.
Other conifer species that form berry-like cones are in the Taxus family. Yew plant from dense evergreen hedges, growing bright green in spring, turning dark green at maturity, and red fleshy cone-shaped fruits appear in autum.
What is Juniper, a berry bearing conifer?
Juniper berries come from the juniper tree, a tree with spiny needles that can grow up to 30 meters tall. Juniper berries have long been called poor man’s pepper because of their aromatic properties.
The Roman encyclopedia Pliny the Elder even reports in his works on botany that juniper berries were consumed as a substitute for pepper, although the latter was much more available in 23 AD than it is today.
According to their scientific name, Juniperus, they are cultivated all over the world and are found in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. No wonder, because it can grow almost anywhere.
Although the young shoots can be eaten, it is the fruit that is usually used in cooking. The green pearls turn purple when ripe and become a slightly bitter, strong spice that is added to many dishes.
The list of dishes that can be prepared in this way is long, as well as juniper alcohol and its derivatives such as gin and wine, which are consumed in several European countries.
Are Conifer berries edible?
Juniper berries are used in many traditional Canadian dishes, but their properties are not limited to flavor. It is also known for its medicinal properties, which help fight various ailments, especially digestive problems.
Take note of the various benefits of this berry.
- Juniper berries can be consumed in many different forms. Among these, we particularly recommend the use of:
- As a decoction, it is great for dealing with urinary infections. Add berries to 3 cups of water.
- As a topically applied essential oil, it’s great for relieving joint and muscle pain, especially when combined with wintergreen essential oil or diluted with a neutral cleansing base and poured into a hot bath to give it the right aroma.
- Only 10–20 drops, when applied topically to the skin, combine the same dose with grape seed oil for an anti-cellulite massage.
- It is injected for digestion after a heavy meal.
Most spices have many health benefits, and juniper berries are no exception, offering a variety of benefits. Here is the list:
Juniper berry properties
- Antispasmodic: Fights indigestion, colitis, gastrointestinal spasms, gastritis, bloating, and even menstrual pain.
- Digestive: Aids in digestion. It is interesting to use this plant in flavorful dishes to support the digestive system.
- Preservatives: Help fight bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms on external surfaces of the body.
- Anti-infective: helps treat infections caused by microorganisms. For example, it is used to treat urinary tract infections.
- Tone and form: Reduce anxiety and depression, improve form, and reduce fatigue
- Increase your vitality: In this case, you should consume this spice for its medicinal properties in rheumatism, urinary tract infections, flatulence, etc.
When added to flavorful dishes, berries like cardamom seeds aid digestion.
Are Juniper berries poisonous?
Contrary to what you might think, this spice is not poisonous, although it grows on coniferous trees. In fact, it is not dangerous and can be consumed without any side effects.
As with any food, you need to be careful with your portion. Children and pregnant women can also take it; there are no contraindications.
On the other hand, the Yew tree (Taxus spp) is a good example of why ingesting samples of unknown plants is not necessarily a safe practice.
This shrub is often planted in front of houses, apartments, and stores. However, almost all parts of the plant are highly poisonous.
Even just a few berries can cause severe poisoning and death. But that doesn’t mean you need to be scared and avoid wild food.
Yew trees can be easily distinguished from edible evergreens by paying attention to important identifying characteristics.
In conclusion, coniferous trees are a type of tree or shrub that includes many edible and aromatic species. However, it is important to be aware of the toxicity of some of them before ingesting them.
Conifer corn, on the other hand, can be grilled and eaten as an appetizer or added to dishes to add a unique flavor.
The seeds inside the cones are also edible and can be eaten raw or roasted. It is important to note that some conifers are poisonous and should not be eaten.
For example, the leaves and berries of the yew tree, or a conifer common in Europe and North America, are highly poisonous and can be fatal if ingested.
Therefore, it is important to be careful and learn about edible species before eating.
- Muto N., Tomokuni T., Haramoto M., Tatemoto H., Nakanishi T., Inatomi Y., Murata H., Inada A. Isolation of apoptosis- and differentiation-inducing substances toward human promyelocytic leukemia HL-60 cells from leaves of Juniperus taxifolia. Biosci. Biotechnol. Biochem. 2008;72:477–484. doi: 10.1271/bbb.70570.
- Tavares W., Seca A. The Current Status of the Pharmaceutical Potential of Juniperus L. Metabolites. Medicines. 2018;5:81. doi: 10.3390/medicines5030081.