The juniper is a low-spreading evergreen shrub or small tree, growing to a height of between 1 and 10 metres. Its bark is very thin, reddish brown and scaly. The prickly leaves are needle-like and 5 to 12 millimetres long. The seed cones are berry-like, between 6 and 10 millimetres in diameter. They remain green for around 18 months, then ripen to become blue-black with a waxy coating.
The juniper is widely distributed throughout the world and grows on open, dry, rocky or wooded hillsides or on exposed slopes.