Arbor vitae

Family - Cuppressaceae - Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco - BIOTA - Huang bai

Scientific names

Biota ericoides Carriere
Biota freneloides Gordon
Biota japonica Siebold ex Gordon
Biota orientalis
Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco
Platycladus stricta Spach
Thuja chengii Borderes & Gaussen
Thuja orientalis L.
Ce bai (Chin.)

Common names

Biota (Engl.)
Chinese arbor-vitae (Engl.)
Oriental arbor-vitae (Engl.)
Huang bai (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Xiang bai, Bian bai, Bian gui, Xiang shu, Xiang ke shu.
CZECH: T-je v-chodn-, Zeravec v-chodn-.
DUTCH: Oosterse levensboom.
FRENCH: Thuya d’Orient, Thuya de Chine.
GERMANY: Morgenl-ndischer Lebensbaum, Orientalischer Lebensbaum.
HUNGARY: Keletfa.
ITALIAN: Albero della vita, Tuia orientale.
KOREA: chuk paek namu.
PORTUGUESE: Biota-da-china.
RUSSIAN: Biota vostochnaya, Tuya vostochnaya.
SLOVAKIAN: Tuja v-chodn-.
SPANISH: Arbol de la vida, Arbol de la vida chino.


Oriental arbor-vitae is a small, slow growing tree, growing to a height of 15 to 20 meters, the trunk about 0.5 meters in diameter, up to 2 meters in very old trees. Stems are multiple. Bark is thin, reddish brown and peeling in longitudinal strips. Branches are ascending, ramified in a vertical plane. Leaves are decussately opposite, scale-like, 2 millimeters long, tightly appressed. Male cones are terminal, 2 to 3 millimeters long; female cones are axillary, oblong, 20 to 25 millimeters by 10 to 18 millimeters, with fleshy scales. Seeds are ovoid, flattened, 5 to 7 by 3 to 4 millimeters, and wingless.

It is similar to Thuja occidentalis in general appearance, but has upright cones and thickened scales.

– Planted in gardens in the Philippines.
– Native to China.
– Widely naturalized from east Asia to Korea and Japan, south to northern India and west to northern Iran.
– Often planted as ornamental.


– Essential oil of leaves and fruits yielded a-pinene, sabinene, 3-carene, limonene, and cedrol as major components.
– Defatted ethanol extract of leaves and fruits were rich in flavonoids and tannins.
– Hydrodistilled essential oils of fresh fruits and leaves yielded 24 and 21 compounds respectively. Major components were a-pinene, a-phellandrene, a-terpinene, and camphene in fruit oil, and a-pinene, benzyl benzoate, caryophyllene and a-cedrol in leaf oil.
– Leaf extract yield pinusolide, a labdane-type diterpene, and pinusolidic acid.
– Flavonoid constituents are rutin, quercitrin, quercitrin, amentoflavone.
– Study on chemical composition of leaves and fruit oils yielded 23 constituents (97.8 %) with major constituents viz. α-Pinene (35.2%, 50.7%), α-Cedrol (14.6%, 6.9%) and Δ-3-Carene (6.3%, 13.8%), respectively.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings


(2) 13- GC/MS ANALYSIS AND BIOCHEMICAL STUDIES OF THE ESSENTIAL OIL OF THUJA ORIENTALIS L. GROWING IN EGYPT. / Magda T. Ibrahim, Nevein M. Abdel-Hady and Lamiaa N. Hammad / Bull. Fac. Pharm. Cairo Univ., Vol. 42, No. 1 (2004)

(3) Antibacterial, antioxidant and phytochemical investigation of Thuja orientalis leaves / Nakuleshwar Dut Jasuja*, Suresh K. Sharma, Richa Saxena, Jyoti Choudhary, Ramavtar Sharma and Suresh C. Joshi / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, Vol. 7(25), pp. 1886-1893, 3 July, 2013 / DOI: 10.5897/JMPR12.1323

(4) Review / Pharmacological of Platycladus orientalis / Jaiswal Amit et al / International Research Journal of Pharmacy, 2011, 2 (11), 58-61

(5) Fumigant toxicity of essential oils of leaves and fruits of Platycladus orientalis to Lasioderma serricorne (F.) / Seyed Mehdi HASHEMI and Seyed Ali SAFAVI* / BIHAREAN BIOLOGIST 6 (1): pp.65-69

(6) Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco is an accepted name / Synonyms / The Plant List

(7) Hair growth-promoting activity of hot water extract of Thuja orientalis / Nan-nan Zhang, Dong Ki Park and Hye-Jin Park / BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, 13:9 / doi:10.1186/1472-6882-13-9

(8) Methylene chloride fraction of the leaves of Thuja orientalis inhibits in vitro inflammatory biomarkers by blocking NF-κB and p38 MAPK signaling and protects mice from lethal endotoxemia. / Kim JY, Kim HJ, Kim SM, Park KR, Jang HJ, Lee EH, Jung SH, Ahn KS. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 27;133(2):687-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.10.051. Epub 2010 Oct 30.

(9) The anti-inflammatory activities of an extract and compounds isolated from Platycladus orientalis (Linnaeus) Franco in vitro and ex vivo. / Fan SY, Zeng HW, Pei YH, Li L, Ye J, Pan YX, Zhang JG, Yuan X, Zhang WD. / J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jun 1;141(2):647-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2011.05.019. Epub 2011 May 17.

– Traditionally considered diuretic, anticancer, anticonvulsant, stomachic, stomachic, antipyretic, analgesic, anthelmintic.

Parts used
Leaves, fruits, essential oils.


– No reported folkloric medicinal use in the Philippines.
– In Reunion, used mainly as antirheumatic: cones crushed and soaked in alcohol for 2 to 3 days, and the extract rubbed on painful joints. Decoction of small branches used for varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and menopausal problems. Also used for fever and to treat gastric ulcers.
– In Mauritius, decoction of branches and leaves used for throat inflammation, fever, influenza.
– In traditional Chinese medicine, leaves used as stomachic, refrigerant, diuretic, tonic and antipyretic. Leaves used to treat coughs, excessive mucus secretion, chronic bronchitis, bronchiectasis and asthma.
– In Indo-China, ground leaves used as emmenagogue and antitussive; seeds as tonic, sedative, tranquilizer, and aphrodisiac. Decoction of twigs used for dysentery, skin infections, and cough.
– In East Asia, Thuja orientalis has been traditionally used for baldness and hair loss.

– Fragrance: Used as fragrance in the manufacture of cosmetics and soaps.

Study Findings
– Essential Oil / Antimicrobial: Study screened the essential oils of fresh fruits and branchlets with leaves of P. orientalis for bacteriostatic and fungistatic activities. Essential oil of leaves had no antimicrobial activity, while the essential oil from fruit showed modest and slightly antimicrobial activity against B. subtilis, C. albicans, E. coli, and S, aureus. Major constituents were a-pinene, sabinene, 3-carene, limonene, and cedrol.
– Essential Oil / Insecticidal: Study evaluated the essential oil of leaves and fruits from oriental arborvitae against adults of cowpea weevil (C. maculatus), rice weevil (S. oryzae) and red flour beetle (T. castaneum). Major component of both leaves and oils were α-pinene, α-cedrol, and Δ-3-carene. Results showed leaf oils were more toxic than fruit oils against the three species of insects. Study was done on the fumigant toxicity of essential oils of leaves and fruits of P. orientalis against the adults of cigarette beetle, Lasioderma serricorne. Results showed fumigant toxicity with the leaf oil showing more toxicity than fruit oils.
– Essential Oil / Diuretic / Antioxidant: Essential oil of fruits and leaves were tested for diuretic activity. Results showed an increase in urinary excretion, rise in sodium excretion, with hypokalemia. Oils of both leaves and fruit restored reduced levels of glutathione in alloxan-diabetic rats, showing antioxidant activity comparable to that of vitamin E.
– Anthelmintic: Ethanol extract of leaves of P. orientalis was investigated for anthelmintic activity against Pheretima posthuma. The extract exhibited significant dose-dependent anthelmintic activity comparable to piperazine citrate.
– Antipyretic: Ethanol extract of leaf showed antipyretic effect in induced fever in albino rabbits. Effect comparable with standard aspirin. Alcoholic extract of leaf showed dose-dependent antipyretic activity by Brewer’s yeast-induced pyrexia in rats.
– Anti-Inflammatory: Total flavonoids isolated from P. orientalis showed significant anti-inflammatory effect in inflammatory rat models induced by dimethylbenze and carrageenan. Activity was attributed to decreasing the content of PGE2 and NO.
– Antiproliferative: Study of leaf essential oil showed cytotoxic activity on renal adenocarcinoma cell line and against amelanotic melanoma.
– Antioxidant / Antibacterial / Leaves: Study showed of a methanol:distilled water extract of leaves showed highest antioxidant effect in a DPPH assay while crude extracts showed significant inhibitory activity against both gram positive and gram negative bacteria.
– Hair Growth-Promoting Activity: Study evaluated the hair growth-promoting activity of Thuja orientalis hot water extract and its underlying mechanism of action. Extract was applied topically to shaved dorsal skin of telogenic C57BL/6N mice to study the induction of the hair follicle cycle. Results showed promotion of hair growth by induction of anagen phase. Immunochemical analysis reveals earlier induction of -catenin and Shh proteins in hair follicles of the extract-treated group. Results suggest a potential as hair growth-promoting agent.
– Anti-Inflammatory / Blocking of NF-ikB and p38 MAPK: Study showed the methylene chloride fraction of Thuja orientalis potentially inhibits biomarkers (LPS-induced iNOS, COX-2 protein, TNF–α and IL-6) related to inflammation in vivo and in vitro, and may be a potential candidate for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.
– Pinusolide / Anti-Platelet: Pinusolide, a labdane-tye diterpene, and pinusolidic acid have been isolated from leaf extracts. Pinusolide is a potent platelet-activating factor (PAF) antagonist. In mice, study suggested value in the treatment of hypotension and pinusolide analogues with a potential as PAF specific antagonist.
– Anti-Inflammatory: Chloroform fractions and pure compounds were evaluated for their ability to inhabit pro-inflammatory enzymes in vitro, and production of TNF-α and nitric oxide lipopolysaccharide stimulated RAW 264.7 macrophages. Results showed anti-inflammatory activity probably through the inhibitory effects of the CHL and its components (hinokiol and acacetin) on 5-lipoxygenase.

– Wild-crafted.
– Essential oils from leaves, cones and wood in the cybermarket; also traded internationally
– Dried herbal materials, dried leaves, extract granules traded from Asia.