Juniper Berries are in fact not berries at all, but a fused seed cone. This evergreen plant is native to Europe, Asia, and North America, and the berries carry a distinctive pine-like scent.
These days, Juniper Berries are probably best known for giving gin its unique herbaceous scent and flavour, but the folklore around Juniper stretches as far back as Ancient Egypt, where Juniper berries were the symbol of the Canaanites fertility goddess, Ashera. In Western European folklore, Juniper was thought to have a protective quality — a Juniper tree planted by the door of a house would prevent a witch from entering, and in Scotland an incense of Juniper was used to ward off the evil eye. Similarly, in Tibet, Juniper has been used to remove demons. In Celtic celebrations of Samhain (Halloween), when the veil between worlds was considered to be at its thinnest, people burned Juniper as a way to encourage contact with the Otherworld.
Juniper has a number of health benefits that support the liver, kidneys, and digestive system, as well as boasting antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.