Essential Oil Composition and Bioactivity of Two Juniper Species from Bulgaria and Slovakia

Molecules. 2021 Jun 15;26(12):3659. doi: 10.3390/molecules26123659.


Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb and J. sabina L. contain essential oil (EO), while J. sabina also contains podophyllotoxin, which is used as a precursor for anti-cancer drugs. Two studies were conducted. The first assessed the variability in the EO profile and podophyllotoxin concentration of the two junipers, depending on the location and tree gender. The main EO constituents of J. excelsa were α-cedrol, α-limonene and α-pinene, while the constituents in J. sabina were sabinene, terpinen-4-ol, myrtenyl acetate and α-cadinol. The podophyllotoxin yield of 18 J. sabina accessions was 0.07-0.32% (w/w), but this was not found in any of the J. excelsa accessions. The second study assessed the effect of hydrodistillation (Clevenger apparatus) and steam distillation (in a semi-commercial apparatus) on the EO profile and bioactivity. The extraction type did not significantly alter the EO composition. The EO profiles of the two junipers and their accessions were different and may be of interest to the industry utilizing juniper leaf EO. Breeding and selection programs could be developed with the two junipers (protected species) in order to identify chemotypes with (1) a high EO content and desirable composition, and (2) a high concentration of podophyllotoxin in J. sabina. Such chemotypes could be established as agricultural crops for the commercial production of podophyllotoxin and EO.

Keywords: anti-cancer; antimicrobial; elemol; eugenol; podophyllotoxin; protected plants; sabinene; safrol; terpinen-4-ol; α-cedrol; α-limonene; α-pinene.

MeSH terms

  • Bulgaria
  • Distillation / methods
  • Juniperus / chemistry*
  • Juniperus / metabolism
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Plant Leaves / chemistry
  • Plant Oils / chemistry
  • Podophyllotoxin / analysis
  • Podophyllotoxin / chemistry*
  • Slovakia


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Podophyllotoxin