How to distinguish between thuja and junipers

Hello. Recently, a friend boasted that she planted a large number of arborvitae and junipers, as well as other ornamental plants. Thus, she ennobled her summer cottage. On reflection, I came to the conclusion that it would not hurt me to do the same. Yes, the trouble is - I do not understand such plants at all. In my opinion, there is no difference between them. Or I'm wrong? Thank you in advance for your reply.

Indeed, thuja and junipers are so similar to each other that an ordinary person who does not have any special knowledge may well confuse them. The external similarity of plants is primarily manifested in the presence of scaly needles. It resembles the needles of pine, fir, spruce. Thus, it is impossible to distinguish both of these plants from each other at first glance.

However, it should be noted that in young shrubs and trees, the needles have the shape of needles. In some species of juniper, it persists throughout its existence. However, trees can be distinguished by size and shape of cones. Juniper tree can reach a height of approximately 15 m. This height is comparable to the height of a residential building, which has 5 floors. In this case, individual species of thuja can grow up to 70 m, the trunk diameter can be 6 m. However, trees of this size are quite rare.

As for the cones, then in the thuja they are oblong or oval. In the juniper, the spherical shape of the cones prevails. Thuja, like juniper, belongs to the cypress family, which is part of the class of conifers. In this case, the genus thuja includes only 5 species, while the genus of juniper is 67 species.

There are differences in the places where plants grow. Wild thuja can be found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, temperate zones. Juniper is also found in the Northern Hemisphere, but, unlike thuja, in vast territories from subarctic regions to the tropics. It should be noted that both plants are unpretentious to the soil. That is why they can often be found both in suburban areas and in city parks. These plants are famous for their ability to purify the air from pathogenic microbes.

In addition, the fruits of juniper are widely used in the food industry. For example, in the form of spices, which are used during the preparation of individual dishes and alcoholic beverages. It is curious that at one time even experts in the field of botany could not really figure out which plants could be called thuja and which could not. Some species that previously belonged to this genus of coniferous plants have recently been considered an independent genus of the cypress family. A good example of this is the oriental flatflower (Platycladus orientalis).