PROTA homepage Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Record display


Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco

Protologue
Portugaliae Acta Biol., Sér. B, Sist. Julio Henriques: 33 (1949).
Family
Cupressaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Synonyms
Thuja orientalis L. (1753), Biota orientalis (L.) Endl. (1847).
Vernacular names
Chinese arbor-vitae, biota, eastern thuja (En). Cyprès chinois, thuya de Chine (Fr). Biota da China, tuia da China (Po).
Origin and geographic distribution
The natural distribution of Platycladus orientalis is obscured by its long history of cultivation in large parts of Asia. It is assumed to have originated from northern and north-eastern China, Korea and Siberia. Its distribution has extended to Japan, Taiwan and Central Asia, and it is locally naturalized in Indo-China. It has been cultivated in Europe since the first half of the 18th century. In cooler areas of tropical Africa it has been planted primarily as an ornamental.
Uses
In Réunion the main use of Platycladus orientalis is as an antirheumatic. The cones are crushed and soaked in alcohol for 2–3 days. Painful joints are rubbed with the extract. Small branches are used to make a tea which is drunk to overcome varicose veins, haemorrhoids and menopausal problems. They are used to improve the circulation, to bring down fever and to treat gastric ulcers. In Mauritius tea from branches and leaves is used to cure throat inflammation, fever and influenza.
In traditional Chinese medicine the leaves are credited with bitter stomachic, refrigerant, astringent, diuretic, tonic and antipyretic properties. A decoction or the juice of the leaves has been used to relieve all kinds of bleeding, gastric ulcers, gonorrhoea and colds. The seeds are prescribed as a sedative, tranquillizer, antitussive and haemostatic. In Indo-China the ground leaves are used as an emmenagogue and antitussive, the seeds as a tonic, sedative, tranquillizer and aphrodisiac. A decoction of the twigs is prescribed to treat dysentery, skin affections and cough.
In Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa Platycladus orientalis is grown as an ornamental and has no documented medicinal uses. The essential oils extracted from leaves, cones and wood are important in body care products used in the Western world.
Production and international trade
Dried herbal materials of Platycladus orientalis are traded from Asia. Retail prices in 2001 amounted to US$ 7 for 500 g dried leaves, US$ 8.7 for 100 g of extract granules of leafy parts and US$ 12 for 100 g of extract granules of charred leafy parts. Essential oils from leaves, cones and wood are also traded internationally.
Properties
The leaves and cones of Platycladus orientalis contain an essential oil with high amounts of α-pinene, sabinene, 3-carene, limonene and cedrol. In Egyptian material the highest yield was obtained from fresh cones. Pinusolide, a labdane-type diterpene, and pinusolidic acid were isolated from leaf extracts. Pinusolide is a potent platelet-activating-factor (PAF) antagonist. The results of tests on mice suggest that pinusolide may prove of therapeutic value in the treatment of hypotension and pinusolide analogues may provide the possibility of new PAF specific antagonists. Pinusolidic acid has similar activity.
Chronic oral administration of the seed extract to mice improved impaired memory acquisition and disturbed memory retention in a dose-dependent way. Other proven effects of leaf extracts include the haemostatic properties, in-vitro and in-vivo antitumour activity and an activity similar to that of vitamin K. In an antibacterial screening the aqueous leaf extract inhibited the growth of gram-positive bacteria, and significantly inhibited aflatoxin production of Aspergillus parasiticus on products such as rice, wheat, maize and groundnut. Methanol extracts of leaves and cones inhibited the growth of Candida albicans. Immunosuppressant activity was observed in mice fed with a diet containing 10% seed oil.
Botany
Monoecious shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall, in cultivation often forming multiple stems; bark thin, reddish brown, peeling in thin longitudinal strips; branches ascending. Leaves decussately opposite, scale-like, those of finer lateral sprays c. 2 mm long, tightly appressed. Male cones terminal, 2–3 mm long; female cones axillary, oblong, 20–25 mm × 10–18 mm, with 6–10 fleshy scales, with a recurved horn below the tip of each scale, central 4 scales fertile with 2(–3) seeds. Seeds ovoid, flattened, 5–7 mm × 3–4 mm, wingless.
Platycladus comprises only one species and is closely related to Thuja. It can easily be distinguished by the vertical arrangement of its sprays of foliage, which lack odour when crushed, the strongly hooked cone scales and its wingless seeds.
Ecology
In Asia Platycladus orientalis usually grows on steep rocky hillsides and cliffs. This explains the success of plantings on poor, excessively drained soils, as well as the success of smaller cultivars in rock and succulent gardens. Platycladus orientalis is also tolerant of soils with a high pH. It prefers full sun but is tolerant of partial shade.
Management
Platycladus orientalis can be raised easily from cuttings and seed. Cultivars are best raised from cuttings, but side-veneer grafting is possible as well.
Growth of seedlings is enhanced by NPK 10:20:10 application. This markedly increases stem diameter growth. A high level of P in NPK mixtures increases root length and the number of branches. The fresh and dry weight of leaves greatly increases with increasing N and P levels.
After harvesting the leafy parts can be dried and stored for future use. The seeds are obtained by opening the dried cones and used fresh. The essential oil from leaves and cones can be extracted by steam distillation.
Genetic resources and breeding
Platycladus orientalis has a large area of distribution and is widely cultivated, and is therefore not at risk of genetic erosion.
Numerous cultivars are registered in horticultural trade, ranging from dwarf types to trees, types with needle-like leaves when young, golden green or slightly variegated types or with filamentous branches.
Prospects
The potential for cultivation of Platycladus orientalis in tropical Africa is best at higher elevations with a cooler climate. Pinusolide shows interesting activity in relation to hypertension and PAF-antagonism. Although more research will be needed, the compound or its (semi-)synthetic analogues may have potential in future medicinal research.
Major references
• Aggarwal, S., 2001. Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 439–441.
• Gurib-Fakim, A., Guého, J. & Bissoondoyal, M.D., 1996. Plantes médicinales de Maurice, tome 2. Editions de l’Océan Indien, Rose-Hill, Mauritius. 532 pp.
• Lavergne, R. & Véra, R., 1989. Médecine traditionelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques à la Réunion. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 236 pp.
• Morgan, C.S., 1999. Platycladus orientalis: Cupressaceae. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine 16(3): 185–192.
• Poynton, R.J., 1966. Cultivated Gymnosperms (Ginkgoaceae, Araucariaceae, Pinaceae, Taxodiaceae, Cupressaceae). In: Codd, L.E., de Winter, B. & Rycroft, H.B. (Editors). Flora of southern Africa. Volume 1. Botanical Research Institute, Department of Agricultural Technical Services, Pretoria, South Africa. pp. 51–53.
Other references
• Chen, C.P., Lin, C.C. & Namba, T., 1987. Development of natural crude drug resources from Taiwan VI. In-vitro studies of the inhibitory effect on 12 microorganisms. Shoyakugaku Zasshi 41(3): 215–225.
• Da Graça Silva, M., 1983. Cupressaceae. In: Mendes, E.J. (Editor). Flora de Moçambique. No 3. Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical, Lisbon, Portugal. pp 41–44.
• Ezzat, S.M., 2001. In vitro inhibition of Candida albicans growth by plant extracts and essential oils. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 17(7): 757–759.
• Farjon, A., 1998. World checklist and bibliography of conifers. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 298 pp.
• Hassanzadeh, M.K., Rahimizadeh, M., Fazly Bazzaz, B.S., Emami, S.A. & Assili, J., 2001. Chemical and antimicrobial studies of Platycladus orientalis essential oils. Pharmaceutical Biology 39(5): 388–390.
• Kim, K.A., Moon, T.C., Lee, S.W., Chung, K.C., Han, B.H. & Chang, H.W., 1999. Pinusolide from the leaves of Biota orientalis as potent platelet activating factor antagonist. Planta Medica 65(1): 39–42.
• Lai, L.T., Naiki, M., Yoshida, S.H., German, J.B. & Gershwin, M.E., 1994. Dietary Platycladus orientalis seed oil suppresses anti-erythrocyte autoantibodies and prolongs survival of NZB mice. Clinical Immunology and Immunopathology 71(3): 293–302.
• Nishiyama, N., Chu, P.J. & Saito, H., 1995. Beneficial effects of biota, a traditional Chinese herbal medicine, on learning impairment induced by basal forebrain-lesion in mice. Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin 18(11): 1513–1517.
• Singh, P. & Sinha, K.K., 1986. Inhibition of aflatoxin production on some agricultural commodities through aqueous plant extracts. Journal of the Indian Botanical Society 65(1): 30–32.
• Yang, H.O. & Han, B.H., 1998. Pinusolidic acid: a platelet-activating factor inhibitor from Biota orientalis. Planta Medica 64(1): 73–74.
Sources of illustration
• Aggarwal, S., 2001. Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco. In: van Valkenburg, J.L.C.H. & Bunyapraphatsara, N. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(2): Medicinal and poisonous plants 2. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 439–441.
Author(s)
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Based on PROSEA 12(2): ‘Medicinal and poisonous plants 2’.

Editors
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2008. Platycladus orientalis (L.) Franco. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, twig with cones; 2, detail of shoot.
Source: PROSEA



tree habit


bark
obtained from
Botanypictures


leafy branch


fruiting branch


fruits


branch with opened fruits