For the love of gin! Have you seen this plant?
In collaboration with Massey University, we are on the hunt for New Zealand juniper trees! Do you have one in your backyard?
What are we looking for?
1) Needle like leaves with sharp tips (up to 25mm long);
2) Leaves are not decurrent on the stem (i.e. do not extend downward on the stem);
3) Leaves have one wide white band (it should be wider than the green borders that surround the white portion);
4) fleshy berries 5-6mm wide with several seeds (blue/black when ripe).
Note: The actual size and shape of the shrub/tree varies. The iNaturalist site provides further detail.
Juniper is the main botanical in any gin—without it we wouldn’t have gin.
However, right now, without a local supply, we are forced to rely on juniper berries coming in from overseas (typically, from the Mediterranean), which isn’t great on the planet and means we miss out on the huge potential benefits of using fresh, locally-sourced juniper berries that would boast flavours unique to New Zealand.
At Juno, we’re witnessing a boom amongst Kiwis thirsty for New Zealand artisan gins. So, we see the gin industry as an important growth area that should be able to service itself entirely from New Zealand produce. Planting commercial juniper crops is the missing ingredient to complete the cycle of New Zealand’s wonderful artisan gin industry.
So, we need to find juniper trees!
We’re after a good range of fruitful juniper plants that already do well in the New Zealand environment. The clever people at Massey University will do their work testing and extracting DNA and then we can get a New Zealand juniper growing industry started!
How can you help?
We would love as many Kiwis as possible to be our eyes on the ground in your neighbourhood, backyard and travels, spotting juniper trees and shrubs.
Thankfully, juniper communis has been a popular ornamental exotic plant in New Zealand gardens and parks for decades, so they are around. But you have to know what you’re looking for. So, please follow the points above and refer to iNatrualist site for the detail.
If you have any queries or you think you’ve found some juniper, please contact Talon Sneddon T.Sneddon@massey.ac.nz
Use the hashtag #nzjuniperhunt to share your finds on social media.
Resources & Media
- The Great Juniper Hunt story and interview on Radio New Zealand – listen now
- Farmers Weekly – read now
- Noted.co.nz – read now
- Msn.com – read now
The Great New Zealand Juniper Hunt is made possible through Venture Taranaki’s Tapuae Roa project and the following wonderful organisations: