The cedar leaf (Thuja Occidentalis) comes from the cedar tree, a genus of coniferous trees belonging to the Pinaceae family native to the western Himalayas and Mediterranean region. These leaves have a sharp, fresh, and woody camphor scent that is used often in pharmaceutical products for its therapeutic properties.
Because cedar trees share a very similar cone structure with firs, it was long thought that the two were genetically similar. Molecular evidence, however, shows that the genuses are actually quite different.
Cedar leaves are evergreen and needle-like, growing in an open spiral phyllotaxis on long shoots. They are arranged in dense spiral clusters of 15-45 needles together, and vary from a bright, grassy green to a deep verdant hue to a dull blue-green depending on the thickness of the layer of white wax that protects the leaves from desiccation, or drying.
The plant’s seeds have several resin blisters which possess unpleasant tasting resin. This resin is thought to be a deterrent to squirrels, who otherwise are considered predators due to their propensity to snack on the seeds.
The cedar genus contains four known species, including the Atlas cedar, the Cyprus cedar, the Himalayan cedar, and the Lebanese cedar. These species vary in size, color, and distribution, though all grow in mountainous regions around the world.
While cedar wood and cedar berries are more commonly used, cedar leaves have their own speciality uses. These leaves were long thought to be useful in steam baths, helpful in curing rheumatism, arthritis, and congestion, as well as to wash swollen feet and burns. It was used in treating scurvy as late as the 1900s, and today is commonly used in perfumes, cosmetics, and soaps for its delightful aromatic properties. A carrier oil is recommended when applied to the skin to dilute both the scent and effect.
In AMASS Forest Bath, cedar leaf oil blends with Siberian fir and black spruce for a full forest aroma that transports to the towering trees of the Pacific Northwest.