The plant integral to the production of gin is being killed off by disease, according to a new report.
The study, from Plantlife, said the juniper plant is now in a “critical state” in Scotland, thanks to the spread of phytophthora austrocedrae – a deadly fungal disease.
Scotland is considered to be the UK’s “last remaining stronghold” for juniper, but studies have found less than a third of the stock is fit for usage.
In 2013 it was revealed many southern English counties had lost around 60 to 70 per cent of their juniper stock because of the disease.
The ‘State of Scotland’s Juniper in 2015’ report found 79 per cent of juniper recorded in 2014 was either mature, old or dead and 63 per cent of bushes were found to have brown patches – a sign of poor health or disease.
The disease has only been reported in Argentina and Britain, though scientists are still unaware of how it originally arrived in the UK.
Deborah Long, head of Plantlife Scotland, said: “Volunteer citizen science surveys are helping us understand what is happening to juniper in Scotland.
“We know juniper populations are struggling, but they now face an additional threat. It is thanks to these citizen scientists who have been helping us monitor the species, that we can start working with land owners to help juniper communities become more resistant to the threats they face, including this new disease.
“We need to ensure juniper has a future.”
Thankfully, before you start stockpiling Gordon’s, most gin producers in the UK import juniper from elsewhere in Europe – but a few brands, including Valentine Warner’s new bottle Hepple, use plants grown in Britain.
Next time you’re sipping on a G&T, it might be worth sending a prayer to the god of gin.
Let’s raise a glass or two to these famous gin drinkers…