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Juniperus virginiana. Red Cedar.

Juniperus Virginiana L. Red Cedar. Cedre de Virginie, Fr. Virginische Ceder, Rothe Ceder, G.—The tops of this plant were formerly included in the Secondary List of the U. S. Pharmacopoeia. The tree is an evergreen of slow growth, seldom very large, although sometimes attaining a height of 25 m.

It grows on dry hills or deep swamps from Maine westward to the Rocky Mountains, from Vermont to the Gulf of Mexico, is most abundant and vigorous in the southern section. The interior wood is of a reddish color, and highly valuable on account of its great durability. Small excrescences, which are sometimes found on the branches of the tree, are popularly known as cedar apples and used as an anthelmintic in the dose of from ten to twenty grains (0.65-1.3 Gm.) three times a day. The tops have a pleasant odor, and a strong, bitterish, somewhat pungent taste. These properties reside chiefly in a volatile oil, and are readily imparted to alcohol. The leaves, analyzed by Wm. J. Jenks, were found to contain volatile oil, gum, tannic acid, albumen, bitter extractive, resin, chlorophyll, fixed oil, lime, and lignin. (A. J. P., xiv, 235.) They bear a close resemblance to the leaves of Juniperus Sabina L., an European shrub, from which they can be certainly distinguished only by the difference of odor. The oil of red cedar is now an article of commerce; it is used generally in perfumery, and was formerly one of the principal constituents of the popular extract of white rose. (A. J. P., 1877, 186.) It possesses, in a marked degree, the well-known agreeable odor of the red cedar wood. Schimmel describes a volatile oil from Haitian cedar wood which differs from our domestic oil of cedar, only in. having a higher specific gravity. (Schim. Rep., 1905, 17.) I. W. Brandel obtained from the leaves of J. Virginiana 0.47 per cent. of volatile oil, sp. gr. 0.913 at 15° C. (59° F.). It had a very pleasant odor. (Proc. A. Ph. A., 1906, 459.) Cedrene camphor, C10H26O=C16H24+H2O, may be obtained by cooling the oil until coagulated, and separating the crystalline portion by expression; the expressed liquid is cedrene, C15H24, which, after rectification and distillation, has the sp. gr. 0.984 at 15° C. (59° F.), boiling at 237° C. (458.6° F.). Cedrene may also be prepared from the cedrene camphor by the dehydrating action of phosphoric anhydride, P_O_. The resemblance of red cedar to savin is said also to extend to its medicinal properties. It is, however, much less energetic, and has not acquired the confidence of the profession. Externally applied it acts as an irritant, and an ointment, prepared by boiling the fresh leaves for a short time in twice their weight of lard with the addition of a little wax, is employed as a substitute for savin cerate in maintaining a purulent discharge from blistered surfaces. Sometimes the dried leaves in powder are mixed with six times their weight of rosin cerate, and used for a similar purpose. But neither of these preparations is as effectual as the analogous preparation of savin.

The volatile oil, which resembles oil of savin in its medicinal properties, has been used for the purpose of producing abortion, and in some cases has caused death. The symptoms have been burning in the stomach, vomiting, convulsions, coma, and a slow pulse, with evidences of gastro-intestinal inflammation after death. (See S. C. Watt, B. M. S. J., vol. xl.)

Under the name of cedar are known in commerce various trees, some of which do not belong to the genus Juniperus. The wood of Juniperus bermudiana L. is said to be largely used in making pencils. The cedar of Lebanon, Cedrus Libani Barrel, and its two varieties, the African cedar, C. atlantica Manetti, and the Indian cedar or deodar, C. Deodara Loud., are sometimes distilled for oil, and, under the name of libanol. An oil obtained from Cedrus atlantica, Manetti, or satin-wood, has appeared in commerce and is said to be useful in the treatment of blennorrhagia, phthisis, bronchitis, and eruptions upon the skin, having properties very similar to those of the oil of santal. It may be given in capsules up to forty-five grains (3 Gm.) per day. In skin eruptions the 25 per cent. ointment made with vaseline has been used. Other trees known as cedars are the white cedar, Cupressus thyoides L.;the American white cedar, Thuja occidentalis Linn.;the Californian white cedar, Libocedrus decurrens Torr.;the New Zealand cedar, Libocedrus Bidwillii Hook. The Australian red cedar, Cedrela Toona Roxb., and the West India cedar, Cedrela odorata L., belong to an entirely different family, the Meliaceae (Cedrelaceae). The wood of the latter species is used in making cigar boxes, and, according to Schimmel, yields 3 per cent. of a volatile oil, which has a specific gravity of 0.915, boils between 265° and 270° C. (509°-518° F.), and has an optical rotation of 0.053° in a 100 mm. tube. It is said to be a powerful insecticide. (P. J., Aug. 29, 1896, 179.)


The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.



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