Prickly juniper, prickly cedar, cade juniper, sharp cedar (Eng), enebro, oxicedro, enebro de la miera, cada (Spa), càdec (Cat), hego-ipurua (Baq), oxicedro, zimbro-bravo (Por).
“...until she, rising and placing her left arm under the right of the rapt gentleman, led him through a low, fragrant juniper bush”.
‘Allá lejos, cada vez más lejos’, José Zorrilla
There are three subspecies of prickly juniper in the Iberian Peninsula; the subspecies badia is the one which has the most tree-like form, as it reaches 15 m in height, although it frequently occurs as a large, erect shrub. The bark is greyish-brown and sheds in longitudinal strips. Like its relatives, the whole plant is aromatic and contains essential oils. The leaves are acicular (needle-like), 12-20 cm long, 1.2-2 mm wide, sharp and pointed with two white bands on the upper side that differentiate it from the other juniper species (J. communis L.). They are arranged in threes, like a three pointed star or the blades of a fan. There are both male and female specimens. The males develop very small cones that produce pollen and the females grow fleshy and globose fruit (actually false fruit), called galbuli, that measure 0.8-1.2 cm in diameter. They have a coating that looks like dust or wax, known as bloom, and are greenish when they are unripe, becoming a reddish-chestnut brown colour.
This is a common plant in Mediterranean ecosystems, strongly associated with the holm oak or as a substitute species in degraded holm oak woodlands. It grows on dry, stony soils from sea level up to 1000 m and is very drought-tolerant.
This species inhabits the Mediterranean region, while the subspecies badia is found in northern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. On the peninsula it is confined to the interior regions of Spain, as well as northeastern and central Portugal.