The Gymnosperm Database


Prostrate plant in the Parque Natural Sierra de las Nieves, Spain [Jose Angel Campos Sandoval].


Foliage and mature female cones on the plant shown above [Jose Angel Campos Sandoval].


Foliage and mature female cones on a plant in habitat west of Abriès, Queyras, France (44.803° N, 6.904° E), elevation 1,600 meters [Réjean Drouin, 2014.07].


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Conservation status

Juniperus sabina

Linnaeus 1753, p. 1039

Common names

Savin (Vidakovic 1991).

Taxonomic notes

Three varieties (Farjon 2005):

Juniperus sabina var. arenaria (E.H. Wilson) Farjon 2005. Type: China, Qinghai Lake, J.F. Rock 13346. Syn.:

Juniperus sabina var. davurica (Pall.) Farjon 2005. Type: Russia, Amur River. Syn.:

Juniperus sabina var. sabina. Type locality unknown. Syn.:


"A shrub up to 5 m high, with irregular crown, rarely erect and usually more or less prostrate. Branches with upturned ends. Bark on old trees reddish-brown. Shoots slender, up to 1 mm in diameter, rounded to slightly angled. Shoots and leaves emit an unpleasant odour when rubbed. Foliage dimorphic; on young plants and sterile branches leaves needle-like, in whorls, 4 mm long, pointed, glaucous above; scale leaves decussate, ovate, 1-3 mm long, with a dorsal gland. The species monoecious or dioecious. Fruit globose to ovate, 5-7 mm long, bluish-black, pruinose, composed of 4 to 6 scales, on a curved petiole; ripening in the autumn of the first year or in the following spring. Seeds 1-3 to a fruit, ovate and furrowed. The fruit and leaves are poisonous" (Vidakovic 1991).

Distribution and Ecology

S & C Europe, Asia Minor, the Caucasus, Ural and Siberia; in mountains at 1400-2300 m. "It is very tolerant to cold, drought and gases. It has no special requirements regarding soil" (Vidakovic 1991). Among other places, it is native to Croatia. Hardy to Zone 3 (cold hardiness limit between -39.9°C and -34.4°C) (Bannister and Neuner 2001, variety not specified).

Big tree




A popular ornamental (Vidakovic 1991). In traditional medicine, its foliage was used as an abortifascient. For this reason, cultivation of this species was long prohibited in France (L'Herbier Virtuel).



The foliage and the seeds contain sabinol (a terpenic alcohol) and gallic acid, which is transformed into pyrogallol. Consumption of the foliage causes a severe irritation of all mucous membranes. The sabinol attacks the nervous system, causing convulsions. The pyrogallol blocks the intestinal circuit completely. Death occurs quickly (L'Herbier Virtuel).


See also

Farjon (2005) provides a detailed account, with illustrations.

Last Modified 2017-12-29