Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 44, Issue 5, pp 510–524 | Cite as

Yellow-Cedar, Callitropsis (Chamaecyparis) nootkatensis, Secondary Metabolites, Biological Activities, and Chemical Ecology

  • Joseph J. Karchesy
  • Rick G. Kelsey
  • M. P. González-Hernández
Review Article


Yellow-cedar, Callitropsis nootkatensis, is prevalent in coastal forests of southeast Alaska, western Canada, and inland forests along the Cascades to northern California, USA. These trees have few microbial or animal pests, attributable in part to the distinct groups of biologically active secondary metabolites their tissues store for chemical defense. Here we summarize the new yellow-cedar compounds identified and their biological activities, plus new or expanded activities for tissues, extracts, essential oils and previously known compounds since the last review more than 40 years ago. Monoterpene hydrocarbons are the most abundant compounds in foliage, while heartwood contains substantial quantities of oxygenated monoterpenes and oxygenated sesquiterpenes, with one or more tropolones. Diterpenes occur in foliage and bark, whereas condensed tannins have been isolated from inner bark. Biological activities expressed by one or more compounds in these groups include fungicide, bactericide, sporicide, acaricide, insecticide, general cytotoxicity, antioxidant and human anticancer. The diversity of organisms impacted by whole tissues, essential oils, extracts, or individual compounds now encompasses ticks, fleas, termites, ants, mosquitoes, bacteria, a water mold, fungi and browsing animals. Nootkatone, is a heartwood component with sufficient activity against arthropods to warrant research focused toward potential development as a commercial repellent and biopesticide for ticks, mosquitoes and possibly other arthropods that vector human and animal pathogens.


Nootkatone Chemical defense Repellents Biopesticides Monoterpenes Sesquiterpenes Tropolones Tannins 


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© This is a U.S. government work and its text is not subject to copyright protection in the United States; however, its text may be subject to foreign copyright protection 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph J. Karchesy
    • 1
  • Rick G. Kelsey
    • 2
  • M. P. González-Hernández
    • 3
  1. 1.Wood Science and EngineeringOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.USDA Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Crop Production and Projects of EngineeringSantiago de Compostela UniversityLugoSpain

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