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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - May 03, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: User Comments, Trees
Title: Retention of essential oils by Ashe Juniper wood from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am looking for information on why local Austin Juniper/Cedar trees are so great at retaining essential oils for aromatherapy. I make pendants for necklaces out of our local fallen cedar trees and use them for diffusing essential oils. All I can find online is that they are naturally rot resistant. I'm looking to find some information about the composition of the cedar wood that explains why it is so good at retaining the smell of essential oils for days.

ANSWER:

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Travis County, TX. While Juniperus ashei (Ashe juniper) is, indeed, a native tree, you are concerned with qualities of wood from this tree that is no longer living and growing ("fallen" trees). This takes it somewhat out of our area of expertise, thank goodness, since we haven't a clue what the answer might be.

However, we were interested in the process, whatever it is and learned about "terpenes" and "terpenoids" as we looked into it. Here is an article from Wikipedia on Terpene, in which we found these relevant sentences:

"Terpenes (/ˈtɜrpn/ TUR-peen) are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers."

"Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as natural flavor additives for food, as fragrances in perfumery, and in traditional and alternative medicines such as aromatherapy."

 

From the Image Gallery


Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

Ashe juniper
Juniperus ashei

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