The Holidays are traditionally associated with various scents including cinnamon, frankincense, myrrh and nutmeg. However, if you live a cold, winter climate, you are probably familiar with the scents of several of the trees that are also around at this time of the year. Although some of these trees have more of an association with the Holidays than others, all of the following trees can be used during the Holidays – either in an aromatherapy diffuser as an essential oil, or use the plant itself as part of a Holiday decoration!
Breathe in the scents of pine, juniper, cypress and cedar this season!
The Scent of Pine for the Holidays
The pine tree family, Pinaceae, contains many species of pine trees, some of which are more aromatic than others. Pine trees are evergreen and resinous; resinous plants emit a liquid or substance that has chemical properties and uses. Mature pine trees have needles through which the tree performs the process of photosynthesis. Pine trees usually have both male and female cones, although it is the female cones that are present for a longer time and throughout the winter months.
You can dry the cones of pine trees for use in seasonal decorations in the home and they provide a strong, aromatic scent. In addition, pine trees are often harvested as Christmas trees. Historically, aromatic pine cones were used to add flavor to wine and ale. Examples of aromatic pine trees include the Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris), the white pine (Pinus strobus) and the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris).
Pine essential oil has a strong, balsamic aroma.
The Scent of Juniper for the Holidays
Juniper (Juniperus) belongs to the Cupressaceae plant family and is related to the cypress tree. There are many species of juniper tree, depending on location and distribution throughout the world, but the most common aromatic juniper species is Juniperus communis.
Juniperus communis is a small, evergreen tree which is highly fragrant. Female juniper trees produce berries (with the help of male juniper trees) that turn black-blue in color after the first year; female juniper trees have green flowers and male juniper trees have yellow flowers. Juniper trees have blue-green needles. You can also use juniper branches and berries in seasonal decorations.
Juniper essential oil has a woody-balsamic aroma.
The Scent of Cypress for the Holidays
Cypress (Cupressus) also belongs to the Cupressaceae plant family. There are several species of cypress trees within the Cupressaceae botanical family but Cupressus sempervirens is one of the most fragrant cypress tree species. Cupressus sempervirens is a tall, evergreen tree that has small flowers and brown-gray cones. It is an ancient tree that has been used medicinally for centuries. Use both the cones and branches in a Holiday wreath.
Cypress essential oil has a sweet, balsamic aroma.
The Scent of Cedar for the Holidays
Cedar (Cedrus) belongs to the Pinaceae plant family and is related to the pine tree. Again, there are many species of cedar tree; however, Atlas cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica) is one of the more fragrant cedar trees. It is a majestic-looking, evergreen tree with cones and pine-like needles.
Cedar essential oil has a woody-balsamic aroma with a camphoraceous top note.
Essential Oil Courses
If you want to learn more about essential oils and their use in aromatherapy practice, consider taking one of the Sedona Aromatherapie courses. You can also find essential oil profiles in the Aromatherapy Library.
Lawless, Julia, 2001, An Aromatherapy Garden, UK: Kyle Cathie Ltd
Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons
Price, Shirley, 2000, Aromatherapy Workbook, UK: Thorsons