Juniperus virginiana L.

Last updated: 10 May 2016

Scientific Name

Juniperus virginiana L. 


Juniperus alba Knight ex Carriére, Juniperus arborescens Moench, Juniperus argentea Gordon, Juniperus bedfordiana Loudon, Juniperus cannartii Mill., Juniperus caroliana Du Roi, Juniperus chamberlaynii Carriére, Juniperus chamberlaynii Carriére, Juniperus cinerascens K.Koch, Juniperus dioica Carriére [Invalid], Juniperus foetida var. virginiana (L.) Spach, Juniperus fragrans Knight, Juniperus glauca Cels ex Link [Illegitimate], Juniperus gossainthanea Lodd. Ex Lindl. & Gordon, Juniperus gossainthanea C.Lawson, Juniperus hermannii (Pers.) Spreng., Juniperus nutans Beissn., Juniperus polymorpha Beissn., Juniperus schottii Gordon, Juniperus smithipendula Beissn., Juniperus tripartita (Lavallée) Beissn., Juniperus virginiana f. albospica Beissn., Juniperus virginiana f. bremerae Standl. & J.F.Macbr., Juniperus virginiana var. chamberlaynii Carriére, Juniperus virginiana var. crebra Fernald & Griscom, Juniperus virginiana subsp. crebra (Fernald & Griscom) A.E.Murray, Juniperus virginiana f. elegantissima (W.Hochst.) Rehder, Juniperus virginiana var. elegantissima W.Hochst., Juniperus virginiana var. freneloides Lavallée, Juniperus virginiana var. glauca Carriére, Juniperus virginiana f. glauca-pendula Simon-Louis ex Beissn., Juniperus virginiana var. hermannii Pers., Juniperus virginiana var. pendula C.Lawson, Juniperus virginiana var. pendula-viridis Gordon, Juniperus virginiana f. plumosa C.K.Schneid., Juniperus virginiana var. plumosa-argentea Beissn., Juniperus virginiana var. smithii C.K.Schneid., Juniperus virginiana f. smithii-pendula Beissn., Juniperus virginiana var. tripartita Lavallée, Juniperus virginiana var. variegata Loudon ex C.Lawson, Juniperus virginiana f. variegata (Loudon ex C.Lawson) Rehder, Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana, Junieprus virginiana var. vulgaris Endl., Sabina alba (Knight ex Carriére) Antoine, Sabina fragrans (Knight) Antoine, Sabina glauca Antoine, Sabina gossainthanea (Lodd. Ex Lindl. & Gordon) Antoine, Sabina virginiana (L.) Antoine, Sabina virginiana var. crebra (Fernald & Griscom) Moldenke. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Red cedar, Virginian cedar, [2] eastern redcedar, red or eastern juniper [3]

Geographical Distributions

Juniperus virginiana tree is native to Canada and eastern United States. It is now being cultivated across the world for the wood products industry. [3]

Botanical Description

J. virginiana trees can grow up to 30 m tall, single-stemmed, crown narrowly erect to conical, round, or flattened.

The bark is brown, exfoliating in thin strips that of small branchlets (5-10 mm diam.) smooth, that of larger branchlets usually not exfoliating in plates.

The branches are pendulous to ascending; branchlets generally erect, sometimes lax to flaccid, 3-4-sided in cross section, ca. 2/3 or less as wide as length of scale-like leaves.

The leaves are green but sometimes turning reddish brown in winter, abaxial gland elliptic or elongate, conspicuous, exudate absent, margins entire (at 20× and 40×); whip leaves 3-6 mm, not glaucous adaxially; scalelike leaves 1-3 mm, overlapping by more than 1/4 their length, keeled, apex obtuse to acute, spreading.

The seed cones maturing in 1 year, of 1 size, generally with straight peduncles, globose to ovoid, 3-6(-7) mm, blue-black to brownish blue when mature, glaucous, soft and resinous, with 1-2(-3) seeds. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

J. virginiana oil extract has been reported to contain sesquiterpenes (e.g. α-cedrene (20-30%), β-cedrene (5-10%)); thujospene (15-20%); sesquiterpenols (cedrol (20-35%), γ-eudesmol (4-6%), widdrol (5%). [4]

Plant Part Used

Wood [2]

Traditional Use

The essential oil of J. virginiana is used in a wide range of foods and beverages (including alcoholic beverages) as a flavouring agent. It is generally used in the fragrance industry due to is woody balsamic aroma to modify other scents. [5] Because of its characteristic scent, the oil is commonly used in cosmetics and colognes for men. In therapeutic aromatherapy, the oil is used as single oil and in combinations with other oils in a carrier.

There are variations in the quality and chemical makeup of oils extracted from different parts of the tree as well as from trees of different ages. The heartwood of the tree produces the most oil and older trees contain more oil in the heartwood than younger trees. [6]

Preclinical Data


Insecticidal activity

The essential oil of J. virginiana showed insecticidal activity at a rate of 67% against red bud borer Resseliella oculiperda, a pest common in apple trees. [3] J. virginiana has also been shown to disrupt the development and reproductive cycle in insects. [7]

Sedative activity

An animal study also tested the sedative attributes of this J. virginiana oil. When tested in different animals and compared to other oils, sedative effects were seen in all species. [8]

Cercaricidal activity 

Two studies have examined the use of J. virginiana as a biodegradable treatment for water supplies considered to be a source of schistosome cercariae. [9][10]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

A human study examined the sedative effects of cedrol, a constituent of J. virginiana oil.  Using the vaporization method in face masks, researchers recorded heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rates in 26 healthy individuals.  The results showed that inhalation of cedrol had a relaxant effect on the participants. [11]


J. virginiana species are known to have abortifacient properties and should be avoided by pregnant women as well as by nursing mothers. [5]

Case Report

Allergic contact dermatitis of J. virginiana has been reported. [12]

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Juniperus virginiana L. [homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 May 10]. Available from:
  2. Burkill IH. A dictionary of economic products of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 2. London: Published on behalf of the governments of the Straits settlements and federated Malay states by the Crown agents for the colonies, 1935; p. 1273.
  3. The Gymnosperm Database. Juniperus virginiana. [homepage on the Internet]. c2015 [updated 2014 Dec 05; cited 2016 May 10]. Available from:
  4. Eller FJ, Taylor SL. Pressurized fluids for extraction of cedarwood oil from Juniperus virginiana. J Agric Food Chem. 2004;52:2335-2338.
  5. Lis-Balchan M. Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 2006; p. 144-146.
  6. Dunford NT, Hiziroglu S, Holcomb R. Effect of age on the distribution of oil in Eastern red cedar tree segments. Biorescour Technol. 2007:98(14):2636-2640.
  7. Sabine JR. Exposure to an environment containing the aromatic red cedar, Juniperus virginiana: Procarcinogenic, enzyme-inducing and insecticidal effects. Toxicol. 1975;5(2):221-235.
  8. Kagawa D, Jokura H, Ochiai R, Tokimitsu I, Tsubone H. The sedative effects and mechanism of action of cedrol inhalation with behavioural pharmacological evaluation. Planta Med. 2003;69(7):637-641.
  9. Naples JM, Shiff CJ, Rosler KH. Schistosoma mansoni: Cercaricidal effects of cedarwood oil and various of its components. J Trop Med Hyq. 1992;95(6):390-396.
  10. Naples JM, Shiff C, Halden RU. Reduction of infectivity of Schistosome cercariae by application of cervaricidal oil to water. Am J Trop Med Hyq. 2005;73(5):956-961.
  11. Dayawansa S, Umone K. Takakura H, et al. Autonomic responses during inhalation of natural fragrance of Cedrol in humans. Auton Neurosci. 2003;108(1-2):79-86.
  12. Franz H, Frank R, Rytter M, Haustein UF. Allergic contact dermatitis due to cedarwood oil after dermotoscopy. Contact Dermatitis. 1998;38(3):182-183.