The essential oils obtained by steam distillation from needles of six China endemic Pinus taxa (P. tabulaeformis, P. tabulaeformis f. shekanensis, P. tabulaeformis var. mukdensis, P. tabulaeformis var. umbraculifera, P. henryi and P. massoniana) were analysed by GC/MS. A total of 72 components were separated and identified by GC/MS from the six taxa. The major constituents of the essential oils were: α-pinene (6.78%-20.55%), bornyl acetale (3.32%-12.71%), β-caryophellene (18.26%-26.31%), α-guaiene (1.23%-8.19%), and germacrene D (1.26%-9.93%). Moreover, the essential oils were evaluated for antioxidant potential by three assays (DPPH, FRAP and ABTS) and tested for their total phenolic content. The results showed that all essential oils exhibited acceptable antioxidant activities and these strongly suggest that these pine needles may serve as a potential source of natural antioxidants for food and medical purposes.
Keywords: GC/MS; antioxidant activity; essential oil; pine needle.