GIN LOVERS can breathe a sigh of relief: juniper, the spirit’s main ingredient, is to be added to the UK’s national seed bank thus preserving it for posterity. Horticultural experts from the UK National Tree Seed Project have collected and preserved seeds of juniper plants gathered from different parts of the country. The seeds will be stored in the Millennium Seed Bank in Wakehurst, Sussex. The project has been working to conserve native juniper in response to its being threatened by a deadly fungus, phytophthora austrocedri, which has caused extensive damage to juniper plants in parts of Scotland. By storing the seeds, the project, run by the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, hopes to prevent juniper from falling into extinction. In the appropriate controlled conditions, seeds can be preserved and remain viable for hundreds of years. While there is no suggestion that juniper is under immediate threat of extinction, the project’s measure is to preserve the seeds as “a type of insurance policy”, which would also enable people to conduct research and conservation work related to juniper. The seed has become the project’s priority owing to the threat posed by P austrocedri which was first reported in the UK in 2O11 and infected trees have since been found at sites across Scotland and the north of England, according to the Forestry Commission. The pathogen primarily attacks juniper roots, killing vascular tissue (phloem) and forming lesions which extend up into the lower stem. Eventually the tree will be killed by girdling of the main stem. With the new project underway now G&T and martini enthusiasts should be able to sip happily for years and years to come.