Elemi Resin

Elemi Resin & Essential Oil Profile & Uses

Jeanne Rose

Synopsis: Elemi, native to the Philippines, the bark resin is extracted and steam distilled;
the E.O. is clear and pale yellow with a citrus scent,
is therapeutic and used in perfumery as a bridge note or fixative
and in skin care (with Galbanum) to rejuvenate and soothe the complexion.
The resin has a history of medicinal uses.

Jeanne Rose photo of Elemi EO on the resin and in front of a piece of wood

Elemi E.O. and resin

LATIN BINOMIAL/BOTANICAL NAME ~ Elemi (Canarium luzonicum) (Blume) A.Gray and from Family Burseraceae. The tree bark produces a resin generally grouped as a balsam; it is more viscous than an oleoresin, very gooey, soft, malleable, and fragrant. When fresh, it is like crystalized honey and will later harden.

            FAMILY – Burseraceae family is the same family that produces Frankincense and Myrrh. The family Burseraceae comprises about 16-20 genera of shrubs and trees.

NAMING ~ Elemi is known as “Pili” in the Philippines. Elemi is a common name for resinous items used as varnishes, printing inks, and ointments. The word itself in Arabic, a translation of Elemi, is similar to the saying “as above, so below”.

            History: “It was Magellan’s discovery of the Philippines in 1521 that led to Manila elemi – known for its medicinal properties and fragrance – being introduced to Europe and the Middle East. The product’s name dates from this period, from the Arabic El-lemi. Its use in “Chinese incense” for religious ceremonies was already being mentioned in China in the 7th century. Further, it was used as a fumigant to perfume homes. Small bags of Elemi were also worn around the neck in that era. Starting in the 18th century, the West began regularly using Elemi for its therapeutic properties, and it is mentioned in many texts, including as “the inventory of simple drugs that must always be kept on hand in the King’s hospital pharmacies.” 2

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN of Elemi ~ Native to the Philippines. Manila Elemi is a resin (from the bark) grouped in the balsam category and is more viscous than an oleoresin; it is semisolid and quite fragrant. The Philippine Elemi resin (Canarium luzonicum) is also one of the best-known and the source of the world’s largest supply.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT, HABITAT & GROWTH ~ Elemi trees grow in lowland rainforests and primary forests at low and medium elevations. It is an evergreen tree about 30 meters in height, pollinated by insects, and not self-fertile. The resin comes from both cultivated and wild trees.

A chunk of Elemi resin on the wood

Elemi Resin

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS & YIELD ~ The tree bark of Canarium produces large quantities of the resin over a period of months. It is available both in the dry and the wet season, and there is a greater flow of resin during the wet season. A mature tree can produce up to five kilograms of Elemi a year. The gum is then shipped to warehouses using large palm fronds and placed in large wooden crates for export.

            While Frankincense is sweet and musky, Elemi delivers a fresh, peppery-citrus aroma.

         Elemi E.O. and CO2 are extracted from the bark resin using steam distillation or a supercritical carbon dioxide system from a tropical tree native to the Philippines. It is a  member of the Burseraceae plant family and is closely related to a resin that resembles Frankincense and Myrrh.

         Yield ~ 13-25% from the resin. Some sources mention yields as low as 3-6%.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ This particular species tree is considered to be threatened and/or vulnerable due to heavy usage, people moving into the areas where they live, and by over-tapping. Some species of Canarium are also considered to be invasive.

            Sustainability ~ These items may not be sustainable in the amounts used. My suggestion is to use only the actual resin as it was once meant to be, as incense, in small, moderate amounts as needed, and not use the essential oil at all.  

This work is sponsored and supported
by Prima Fleur Botanicals.


ELEMI Resin & OilResinEO
Color:Pale yellowPale yellow to colorless
Viscosity:Very viscousNon-viscous
Taste:noneBitter, aromatic
Intensity of Odor: 1-10 •
1 is least intense

ODOR DESCRIPTION ~ This oil has a clear to a yellow hue, is non-viscous, tastes bitter, and is medium intensity with a citrus resin scent. The odor of some Elemi E.O. is somewhat like the flower and leaf of Choisya in the spring when it is full of phellandrene. The odor of the principal oil constituent of alpha-phellandrene (more in the spring of Choisya) and the odor of β-phellandrene has been described as peppery-minty with a slightly citrusy note, and phellandrene is absorbed through the skin. Thus, the hydrosol of this resin is excellent in the bath or as a body spray, and the E.O. is helpful in skin care. It is anti-inflammatory.

            SOLUBILITY in 3 mediums – When you see Elemi discussed, it will often be described as a gum resin, resin, or an oleo-resin. Because each of these words has different meanings, I conducted my own simple experiment in determining the solubility of Elemi, in water (to see if it was a gum), in alcohol (to determine how quickly it might dissolve), and in oil (to see if it could be described as an oleo-resin). It was a revelation.

            The solubility of Elemi is Soluble in 0.5 to 5 vol. of 90% alcohol; and usually soluble in 5-10 vol. of 80% alcohol. It is about 30-50% soluble in oil and, by my own experiment, NOT soluble in water; thus, it is an oleo-resin and not a gum resin.   

SOLUBILITY in 3 mediums

photo of Elemi solubility in 3 mediums; neutral grape spirits, sunflower/jojoba oil, and distilled water.

5/27/18 At 9:30 A.M.
Day 1 Using 15 ml. Of 95% Neutral Grape Spirits, A Combo of Sunflower/Jojoba Oil, Or Distilled Water.
Day 2. Dissolving in alcohol; slightly dissolved in oil; not dissolving in water.
Day 3. Dissolved in alcohol; 30-50% dissolved in oil; not dissolved in water. [not a gum]

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ A study on the composition of Elemi essential oil from Manila and from the distillation of Elemi resin yielded 39 compounds, with the most abundant being phellandrene or limonene. Limonene for some tests was at 56%, or phellandrene was higher at 25-28%. These components change depending on the terroir and where and when the tree was harvested and distilled. Constituents are limonene and phellandrene with smaller amounts of elemol, elemicin, dipentene, and terpineol.

This oil is clear and light yellow in color and is non-viscous. Its main constituent is phellandrene (25-28%).

            The soft nature of Elemi resin partly results from the large quantity of liquid sesquiterpenes. It sometimes crystallizes from the triterpenes and becomes opaque and white.4 The optical rotation of this E.O. and the fresh resin changes if stored in sunlight, and care should be taken to keep either in a dark container. A box will be sufficient for the resin, and for large amounts of the oil, brown glass is best.

INTERESTING INFORMATION AND HISTORY ABOUT ELEMI ~ When Frankincense became too costly and scarce for mass consumption, Elemi quickly became a logical replacement, offering many of the same therapeutic benefits. In Arabic, a translation of Elemi is similar to the saying “as above, so below.” It was revered as an oil of the Gods and, like Frankincense, was used in meditation and prayer. While Frankincense is fruity and herbal, Elemi delivers a fresh, citrus-spicy aroma.

            Artifacts dating from Egypt’s 26th dynasty (664 B.C. and 525 B.C.) have been found at Saqqara that contained a fat-based ointment containing Elemi, a fragrant resin from tropical trees. “Elemi and another resin Dammar have not previously been linked to ancient Egyptian embalming practices and are highly  unexpected.” “Elemi was present in the (embalming) workshop mixtures used to treat the head, liver, and body bandages.”6.

Several bottles of essential oil of Elemi with the resin and a crystal and a shell.


Elemi resin is antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and rubefacient; it is used in plasters to ease coughing. If used in medicine, Elemi is a potent antiseptic that protects against bacterial and viral infections, fungus, and septic shock. Its resin is soft, odorous and has the texture of honey. It was formerly exported for the European pharmaceutical trade as Manila or Philippine gum Elemi for use as an ointment for healing wounds and as a plaster. The valuable resin, called ‘Pili,’ aka Manila elemi or ‘breabianca,’ is used as an ingredient in manufacturing plastics, printing inks, and perfumes. It is also used by the Spaniards for ship repairs.

            Raw nuts are purgative.  

In skincare, it has been used to rejuvenate and heal wounds topically, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It is widely used as a fixative in fragrances, soaps, and cosmetics. Elemi may be used as an excellent base note in perfumery, where its inherent complexity is at once earthy and citrusy. During massage and aromatherapy treatments, it can be inhaled to reduce stress-related conditions and bring a feeling of peace and well-being.

Skilled practitioners have incorporated using Elemi to address bronchial and chest congestion due to its expectorant and stimulant properties. A potent antiseptic, Elemi protects against bacterial and viral infections, fungus, and septic shock.

            Elemi, Canarium luzonicum, CO2 wild resin #201, and steam-distilled #217 are both from the resin. Try a bold new step in your skin-nurturing regime; protect and nourish your body with a luxuriously rich combination in a custom skincare line.

Elemi Properties (by IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation or AP=application)

Manila elemi (the resin obtained from the tree) and the essential oil distilled from the resin have a long history of medicinal use. They are considered to be antibacterial, antifungal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, and rubefacient.

Physical Uses & How Used (I.G. or I.G.). BA.P.Application –  The resin can be melted and used in an ointment for wounds. The resin is applied externally in a salve to arthritic and rheumatic joints, boils, abscesses, furuncles, burns, and sores. It is heated and used on the chest as a poultice to stop severe coughing. The essential oil is an ingredient in a commercial preparation that is a natural anti-louse foaming gel, and this gel also contains Echinacea purpurea.


         SKINCARE ~ ELEMI ~ Canarium luzonicum, the wild resin, is extracted by CO2 extraction and steam distilled for the E.O. It was used by the great Marguerite MAURY, a French biochemist and cosmetics chemist. In the 1950s, she was the first to use essential oils from plants in a method and by using therapeutic massage. Marguerite Maury believed that Elemi with Galbanum would eventually rejuvenate the complexion and body.

                It is used in products and perfumery. Try it in your skin-nurturing ritual; protect and nourish the skin with a 2% combination of these two ingredients in your night cream and daytime protection cream. In skincare, it has been used to rejuvenate and heal wounds topically, as well as reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It is widely used as a fixative in fragrances, soaps, and cosmetics.

            Make a luxuriously rich combination of these two resins in a combination of Rice Bran oil and Rosehip seed oil to protect and nourish your body and add to your skincare routine. Use this as a luxuriously rich combination in your custom skincare line.

Elemi & Rose Lotion


            By Ingestion – A corn kernel-sized drop of the resin is taken with water and is used in the treatment of fevers and chills.      

            By Inhalation – Skilled practitioners have incorporated the use of Elemi oil by inhalation or in a blend in a diffuser to address bronchial and chest congestion due to its expectorant and stimulant properties.

EmotiA.P.al/Energetic Uses (AP or IN):

            Inhalation –  The resin burns smoky but with a delightful citrus scent. Inhaled, it stimulates mental and psychic ability, gives spiritual balance, and calms the mind. Elemi resin for the 3rd chakra, the solar plexus, vibrates in yellow, the sound is E, and its scent is citrus-like and helps to balance your fire spirit. The smoke is used by inhalation “to treat the thymus gland.3”    

            Emotional Attributes -cleansing/purifying, strengthening, creativity, meditation, prayer. “On the emotional system, Elemi oil imparts a strengthening, balancing, and centering action, which makes it valuable in meditation. Use it to stimulate mental ability when you suffer from stress, nervous exhaustion, or simply feeling sluggish. Elemi essential oil can be used to help dispel loneliness and create a more positive outlook and encourage hopefulness.”5

• •

USING ELEMI herb, resin, and oil

HERBAL USES ~ One species of Canarium,  Canarium ovatum, the seed is used in the traditional Chinese dessert called ‘mooncakes’,The kernel (seed) is a major ingredient in this famous Chinese festive dessert’. However, kernels from some trees may be bitter, fibrous or have a turpentine odor. Young shoots are used in salads, and the fruit pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned. Boiled Elemi pulp called pili resembles the sweet potato in texture, it is oily (about 12%) and is considered to have food value similar to the Avocado. Pulp oil can be used for cooking. Young shoots from the tree are used in salads, and the fruit pulp is eaten after it is boiled and seasoned.1"
          The tree bark is commonly used for postpartum baths.

Use the essential oils in moderation. Choose to use the herb tea or resin more often.

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ Elemi is a resin and thus can gum up a diffuser. Suggest trying something else for that lovely citrus scent, like a combination of Lemon-Grapefruit-Orange CP (cold-pressed) in your diffuser. Use Elemi, the resin burned on charcoal, to clear the spirit of your home.

            I always use charcoal to burn resin, which is the way of using holy incense. I do it outside. And see the smoke curl into the air, and smell what is left in the air. It is a sacred thing. Resin is burned because it is fragrant and the “food of the gods” which they inhale. Burning incense is to feed the gods, and it is a meditative process.


BLENDING & PERFUMERY ~ Elemi blends well with Rose and other florals, adding a complex, spicy-citrus note. It contributes a unique freshness to Frankincense, Myrrh, Labdanum, Lavender, Rosemary, and Sage.

         E.O. Perfumery – Elemi E.O. may be used as an excellent base note where its inherent complexity is at once earthy and citrusy. During massage and aromatherapy, it can be inhaled to reduce stress-related conditions and bring a feeling of peace and well-being.

HYDROSOL ~ I have not as yet had the opportunity to try an Elemi leaf, bark, or resin hydrosol.

Key Use: ‘Resin for Skin Rejuvenation’ — M. Maury

Science article: Elemi contains dipentene and elemicine, which are responsible for Elemi being a strong antiseptic, protecting wounds, and being a strong healer. expectorant. https://www.discoverlsp.com/news/chemical-focus.html

1. http://www.worldagroforestry.org/treedb2/speciesprofile.php?Spid=425
2. http://www.albertvieille.com/en/products/55-elemi-essential-oil-philippines.html
3. Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book Applications & Inhalations. www.jeannerose.net/books.html
4.Langenheim, Plant Resins
5 .https://www.quinessence.com/blog/elemi-essential-oil
6. Bower, Bruce. Egyptian Mummy Recipes Revealed. Science News. February 25, 2023, p.6

Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 1972 reprint


Mabberley, D.J., Mabberley’s Plant Book, 2008 Third Edition with 2014 updates, Cambridge University Press

Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html


Elemi ~ A corny Jeanne Rose Limerick
Elemi, the resin smells citrus
But always sweetly odiferous
Gooey, it’s true
And so sticky too
But one thing it’s not is cruciferous.

• • •
PATCH TEST ~  If applying a new essential oil to your skin, always perform a patch test on the inner arm (afterE.O.ou have diluted the E.O. in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply E.O.iluted drop (1 drop E.O. + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64
DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that matters between you and your healthcare provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor. The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©

Moderation in All Things.

Be moderate in using essential oils, as they are not environmentally sustainable.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2010

MAY CHANG – Litsea cubeba

MAY CHANG – Litsea cubeba

Essential Oil Profile

photo of berries and essential oils

May Chang – Litsea cubeba

Background, history, name, use, and essential oil

Jeanne Rose

Summary ~ May Chang, Litsea cubeba, gives us an oil beautiful in name, color, and scent. In a diffuser, it can cleanse the environment, ease breathing and uplift the spirit. Diluted in a blend with a carrier oil (Rice Bran oil is good) is healing and regenerative to the skin and leaves a clean and refreshing scent.

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~ Litsea cubeba, the common name includes May Chang, Exotic verbena, tropical verbena (unrelated to lemon verbena), Kilemo, or Mountain Pepper.

         Family ~ Lauraceae, or the laurels, is a plant family that includes the true laurel, Mediterranean Bay, and its closest relatives. This family comprises about 2850 known species, including Avocado, Bay Laurel, Cinnamon, Clove, Massoia, and more.      

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS: COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN ~ China primarily produces Litsea cubeba oil. It is also cultivated in Taiwan, Japan, and Indonesia.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ This species is classified as a ‘Non-Timber Forest Product’ because it produces essential oils from several parts of the tree, such as leaves, fruits, flowers, and bark.

Unfortunately, the raw material for May chang oil has been obtained from natural forests, not cultivation. Continuous exploitation without cultivation efforts will threaten the existence of this endemic species.2.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Litsea cubeba is obtained from the small peppercorn-shaped fruits resembling the black peppercorns of another plant. Litsea cubeba, the aromatic Litsea or May Chang, is a deciduous to an evergreen tree or shrub 5–12 meters high. It flowers from March-April, and the seeds ripen from August to September. This small tropical tree has lemon-scented leaves and flowers, and the small berries resemble green or black peppercorns. The species is hermaphrodite, which has both male and female organs.1. It is native to the Southern Chinese region, including Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan, Taiwan and Fujian, and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia.

SUSTAINABILITY ~ you must examine each of the plants you use for their ability to reproduce before you choose to harvest or wildcraft them. Many plants are in dire straits because of human incursion into their environment. Best to learn to grow what you want to harvest.

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS ~ Berries are steam-distilled to produce the essential oil, sometimes solvent extracted for the absolute. Sometimes the leaves are distilled as well.

         Yield ~ 3-5% from the berries

photo of berries

ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS OF ESSENTIAL OIL ~A pale yellow liquid, clear, not-viscous, intensity 5-6, taste is tart and irritating, with a tart lemon-fresh and fruity odor. The scent of May Chang has been compared to Lemongrass and Lemon verbena. It is considered sweeter and finer than Lemongrass and a possible fragrance alternative to the costly Lemon verbena (not an option in terms of therapeutic potential). It has been used to adulterate both Lemon Verbena and Lemon Balm (Melissa) oils — both of which have a woody back note, while Litsea does not.

Aroma Assessment ~ The scent of May Chang has been compared to Lemongrass and Lemon verbena, but if you smelled the latter, you would know that it does not. It is considered sweeter and more refined than Lemongrass. It has been used as a possible fragrance alternative to the costly Lemon Verbena (not an alternative in terms of therapeutic potential). It has been used to adulterate both Lemon Verbena and Lemon Balm (Melissa), which have a woody back note, while Litsea does not.

  • Color – pale yellow
  • Clarity – clear
  • Viscosity – not viscous
  • Intensity of odor – 5-6
  • Tenacity of odor – 6-7
  • Taste – strong, bitter, aromatic, and sour

Chemical Composition: Litsea cubeba is valued because of its high citral content, estimated to be at 75%. Geraniol is the alpha-citral, and Neral is the beta-citral. The sensitization risk, due to the high citral level, is mitigated by the presence of the chemical limonene.



May Chang is most valued for its anti-inflammatory and calming properties. Other therapeutic actions are astringent, antiseptic, insecticide, hypotensive, stimulant, and tonic. The oil is used as a scent (especially in bar soap) and for flavoring in its own right. It is also used as a raw material by the chemical industry for the synthesis of vitamin A and for violet-like fragrances.

         Circulatory system: Research in China has focused on the oil’s ability to regulate cardiac arrhythmia.

SKIN CARE ~  This oil is helpful for general skin cleansing due to its antiseptic properties. It is also beneficial to the aromatherapy treatment of oily, acne-infected skin areas. It can be used directly on a cold sore (lip or nose) or wart to kill the virus, but this will sting. Best to always use this oil in dilution.

APPLICATION ~ There have been times in the past when I would develop a cold-sore/herpes outbreak on my lip. This was easily but painfully treated by directly applying a drop of one of three high citral-containing essential oils; Litsea cubeba, Lemon verbena, or Melissa. Litsea is, by far, the easiest to obtain. At the first notice of irritation on your lip, apply the tiniest drop of EO. Yes, it will burn, but it is killing the virus, Apply again about three times per day. Herpes will not develop and will disappear by the 2nd day.

INHALATION ~ May Chang seems to work very well on the respiratory system as it functions as a bronchial dilator and is, therefore, helpful for relieving symptoms associated with bronchitis and asthma. “When given orally or by inhalation (citral), may possess prominent protective effects against bronchial asthma that is induced by inhalation of broncho-constrictors. May Chang oil may inhibit anaphylactic shock when inhaled and has a relaxing effect on the tracheal muscle.” (I am unable to find the original quote to cite)

            •Diffuse/Diffusion – Effect on the nervous system ~  This oil is helpful in the treatment of fatigue, lethargy, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. It should be used in a blend along with limonene oil, such as Orange peel or Lemon peel oil, and with a gentler oil, such as a high linalool Lavender oil.

•Emotional/Energetic Use ~ In a diffuser, Litsea cubeba is a useful addition to a blend as it is emotionally uplifting, clearing, and naturally refreshing. Tone its exuberance with Lemon or Grapefruit oil, and it will clear a room of negative energy and ‘clean’ a space for you.

photo of flowers

Litsea flowers on the tree

NATURAL PERFUMERY & Blending ~ Blends well with Cedarwood, Chamomiles, citrus odors, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Palmarosa, and more, such as Patchouli, Labdanum, Oakmoss, and Ylang. Battaglia recommends using May Chang with the following essential oils: Basil, Bergamot, Geranium, Ginger, Jasmine, Rose, Rosemary, and Rosewood.

It is best used in smaller quantities as a bridge note or connecting note.

Extra information about citral and bridge notes.


basic perfume formula and a formula using May Chang

HYDROSOL ~ I have not had Litsea hydrosol. It might be slightly irritating if sprayed on the face directly, but it would work well as an application to acne sores and/or sprayed on minor cuts.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be explicitly distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components, and most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using fresh plant material.

CULINARY AND HERBAL USES ~ The berries are used extensively as a spice by the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan; it is seen as one of the features of aboriginal cuisine.

HISTORICAL & INTERESTING USES ~ Litsea plants are the primary source of traditional medicines, but they also serve as a secondary food source for muga silkworms (Antheraea assama). The silk from the muga silkworms produced from the Litsea plant is very attractive and more expensive than the silk produced from other plants. The silk cocoons fed with Litsea produce a creamy, glossy silk five times more costly than silk produced from a primary source of food plant, i.e., Machilus bombycina King4. [Silkworms mostly eat mulberry leaves. Silkworms eat vegetables mostly, especially mulberry leaves, and they are predominantly herbivores. The quality of food they eat determines the quality of silk they spin].


ABSTRACT/SCIENTIFIC DATA ~ “…The plant [Litsea cubeba] possesses medicinal properties. It has been traditionally used for curing various gastrointestinal ailments (e.g., diarrhea, stomachache, indigestion, and gastroenteritis) along with diabetes, edema, cold, arthritis, asthma, and traumatic injury. Besides its medicinal properties, Litsea is known for its essential oil, which has a protective action against several bacteria, possesses antioxidant and antiparasitic properties, exerts acute and genetic toxicity and cytotoxicity, and can even prevent several cancers. …” 3.

Key Use ~ Oil of Soap Odor

This work is sponsored and supported
by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

photo of two bottles of different Litsea cubeba essential oil from PrimaFleurBotanicals


  1. https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Litsea+cubeba


3.Ethnopharmacological Properties and Medicinal Uses of Litsea cubeba. Y Heryati et al 2022 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci. 959 012045



_____.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California:

——. Respiratory Chart. 2002

Battaglia, Salvatore, The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. The Perfect Potion Pty Ltd, 1995.

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose, California: 1992

Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne, 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Frog, 1999

Webb, Mark A. Bush Sense.2000

Williams David, The Chemistry of Essential Oils. Micelle Press, 1996.

Safety Precautions


MASTIC EO & Tree Resin ~ Mastic EO & tree resin to understand the nature of Mastic, its description,

distillation methods, particular plant properties, uses, and science ~

MASTIC Essential Oil &/or Herb Resin Profile

By Jeanne Rose and other sources ~ 2023

INTRODUCTION ~ Mastic is a resin. I love the resins; I love to burn them for magic and ritual and, above all, use their essential oils in healing blends and via inhalation.

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~ Gum Mastic / (Pistacia lentiscus L.) is an oleoresin from a flowering shrub and contains very little oil. Other common names include Gum Mastic or Chios Mastic Gum in Greece. The word “masticate” comes from an ancient Greek word from the Greek practice of chewing this interestingly flavorful resin as gum in addition to freshening the breath and fighting tooth decay.

—-Family – Anacardiaceae is most often known as the cashew family; they are flowering plants with over 800 species, some of which produce an irritant called urushiol.

MASTIC EO &  the HERB RESIN is known from Greece but grows in Mediterranean Europe and Northern Africa, Algeria, Morocco, and the Canary Islands. Only the true Mastic tree, the variety chia, has the qualities that are desirable. This variety grows well only in this specific area that has the perfect terroir, that is, the southeast corner of the island of Chios, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ A tree called Mastic (species unknown) is considered critically endangered in the Cayman Islands. The Pistacia lentiscus is considered threatened and endangered.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ The Mastic tree, Pistacia lentiscus, is a flowering shrub with a strong smell of resin; it is a dioecious tree with separate male and female plants. It is an evergreen from 1 to 5 m high and grows in dry and rocky areas in Mediterranean Europe. The leaves are alternate, leathery, and compound with five or six pairs of deep-green leaflets but no terminal leaflet. It has very small flowers; the male flowers are vivid red with five stamens, and the female flowers are green with a 3-part style. The fruit is a drupe (a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed). It is first red and then black when ripe, about 4 mm. in diameter.

PORTION OF THE PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS ~ Mastic is an oleoresin containing a little oil. The oleoresin is produced primarily in the secretory tissues of the bark of stems and branches. “Mastic resin collecting is restricted to the southeastern corner of the island of Chios.
–––––– “The resin is collected by making small cuts made in the bark of the main branches and then allowing the trees to drip the sap onto the specially prepared ground below. The harvesting is done during the summer between July and October. After the Mastic is collected, it is washed manually and is set aside to dry, away from the sun, as it will start melting again.”3 The ground is prepared with fine white kaolin clay on spread on the ground and Mastic falls on it and keeps it clean.

______In Greece to get the Mastic from the Mastic tree is very precise work and takes all summer. First, the ground around the tree is cleaned, then the tree is carved with a special needle to a depth of about 3 mm. Now the Mastic flows slowly from the tree. The first Mastic is collected after fifteen days when it has become more solid.

_____YIELD is 0.7-1 and occasionally up to 3% EO.

                                                         ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS OF MASTIC oil
                       EO is pale yellow
Clarity                        Clear
Viscosity                     Very slightly viscous
Taste                           Bitter (We do not recommend ingestion-only chewing of the resin)
Intensity of odor        5

 Intensity scale of odor ~ On a scale of 1-10, if Usnea is a 1, Lavender a 2, Tea Tree a 5, and Cinnamon or Massoia is 8; then Mastic is about 5-6 in intensity.

 Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment: The Mastic odor is green, with strong smoky, herbaceous, and fruity notes and hints of spice, citrus, conifer, wood, and leather. Excellent to use in a gentleman’s fragrance or for a brunette woman.

Sources ~ This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

• •

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS OF MASTIC ~ The main components were α-pinene (58.86–77.10%), camphene (0.75–1.04%), β-pinene (1.26–2.46%), myrcene (0.23–12.27%), linalool (0.45–3.71%), and β-caryophyllene (0.70–1.47%).

 TASTE ~ I have chewed the gum and tasted this sweet with tea for years, yet I am at a loss to describe the taste of Mastic. I suggest that you give it a try as it is a very special savor, and most memorable. It starts out floral and slightly bitter and then smooths its way to a herbal and sweetish taste. Delicious!




The essential oil is produced by steam distillation from the oleoresin or occasionally directly from the leaves and branches. It is considered antimicrobial, antiseptic, antispasmodic, diuretic, astringent, expectorant and stimulant. Mastic (Pistacia lentiscus) resin and EO have a plethora of qualities and uses. The resin is said to absorb cholesterol when masticated, and is an antibacterial and, acts as an oral antiseptic, tightens the gums, helps digestion, heals wounds; and scientists recently discovered that when it is administrated in small doses over a period of time, it cures stomach ulcers.

The EO is used to heal external skin problems.

Mastic varnish has been in use for thousands of years and is primarily obtained from male trees and used to protect oil and watercolor paintings. The varnish is also used in lithography and cement for precious stones1.

PROPERTIES AND USES ~ Gum Mastic is used in medicine, pharmaceutical products like medical creams and dental toothpaste, and cures for ulcers; it is used in the paint industry, cosmetics, paint varnish, and artists use it both as an adhesive and to color oil. In the food industry, gum Mastic is used in liqueurs, ice cream, pure Mastic gum, chewing gum, and the most precious of all — Mastic EO.

After the oil is removed, a small, very durable, and pliable bit of chewing gum is left that lasts for a long time without disintegrating. This is the Olde Worlde chewing gum, while Spruce and Pine gums were traditionally chewed in the Newe Worlde of the USA and Canada.

It is suggested by Franchomme and Daniel Pénoël that Mastic EO can assist cardiovascular function. It also is useful as an inhalant for assisting bronchitis, coughs, and colds and application of muscular aches and pains.  An interesting oil.

APPLICATION/ SKINCARE:  GUM MASTIC (Pistacia lentiscus) ~ Mastic is widely used in the preparation of ointments for skin afflictions like burns and eczema, frostbite, cancers, as well as other external skin afflictions, including the manufacture of plasters.  Mastic EO is used in products as well, both for this effect and its scent.

                                                                       Skin Care Recipe ___________________________________
A teaspoon of any unscented cleansing creams with a slight drop of Mastic EO works well in cleansing the skin. Apply a warm wet washcloth to warm the skin, and gently massage it into the skin for 10 seconds, then warm the skin again with the warm wet washcloth and gently wipe. This is great in the morning as a wake-up ritual. This is also considered to be rejuvenating.

Other Uses: Mastic is found in varnishes.

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION: Since Mastic oil is from a resinous material, it can be diffused by using a FanFuser on the scent disc but not from a glass-enclosed diffuser as the resin and will clog the diffuser. The scent should be used as an accessory odor, not the primary odor.

Fan Diffuser 

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE: Aleister Crowley considered Mastic to be pale yellow, energetically and clean, and free from prejudice, whether for or against any moral idea. It is used in a ritual blend to intensify them and quicken their rate of vibration. Mastic is used as incense for Pisces people.

BLENDS AND PERFUMERY ~ I like to use Mastic EO & Herb resin in my Natural Perfumery class as a tincture and used as a fixative where it lends a subtle smoky note. 

Blends Best ~ Citrus scents, Lavender-fern combos as a top note and in floral odors. I enjoy using Mastic in massage blends.

Use the essential oils in moderation. Use the herb tea or resin when it is more appropriate.

HERBAL USE OF MASTIC ~ The Mastic fruit (berries) can be crushed to obtain an oil that is used in liquor, or they can be used whole to flavor preserved meats and sausages. The leaf and stems of the plants are burned to smoke meats. Masticha is often prepared in a liquid form, mixed with honey or sugar, and spooned into cold water as the main flavor for a refreshing drink. “In Greece, it is mixed with sugar and water to form a thick white cream eaten by the spoonful with dark bitter coffee.” — 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols.
                 Pistacia lentiscus is used occasionally as a chewing resin to improve breath, prevent tooth decay, and heal the gums.

            BATHING ~ Francis Bacon’s prescription for a bath is as follows, “First, before bathing, rub and anoint the Body with Oyle, and Salves, that the Bath’s moistening heate and virtue may penetrate into the Body, and not the liquor’s watery part: then sit 2 hours in the Bath; after Bathing wrap the Body in a seare-cloth made of Masticke, Myrrh, Pomander and Saffron, for staying the perspiration or breathing of the pores, until the softening of the Body, having layne thus in seare-cloth 24 hours, bee growne solid and hard. Lastly, with an oynment of Oyle, Salt and Saffron, the seare-cloth being taken off, anoint the Body.” (cited by Classen, Howes & Synnott)

             CULINARY USE ~ “One typical spoon sweet is from the island of Chios called the ipovrichio or submarine. It can be flavored with Vanilla or is made from mastic resin, for which the Aegean island is famous. This is a sugary fondant to be served on a teaspoon and dipped into a glass of ice-cold water, thus why it is referred to as a submarine. Once you get your spoon submerged, the fondant softens, and you go to work licking the spoon like a fondant lollipop of sorts. During the summer, you will see people at the beach or cafeterias enjoying a submarine. This dessert is loved by children and adults alike. Although the typical flavors are Vanilla and Mastic, if you opt to make the sweet dessert at home, you can also add fresh berry juices to flavor and experience a glimpse of summertime traditions in Greece.”3

• Greece also makes a resinated white or rose wine that’s infused with sap from an Aleppo pine tree (Pinus halepensis). This wine is called Retsina and emerged from an ancient winemaking tradition that can be traced back as far back as the 2nd century BC.4 This wine has a unique flavor said to have originated from the practice of sealing wine vessels, the amphorae, with the resin of this tree. 

Since antiquity,  the resin of the Mastic tree that grows on the Greek island of Chios is also used to flavor wine and gives it a very special and surprising taste.



Mastic is a translucent sticky substance similar to tree sap, and when combined with sugar, lemon juice, and water is served on a spoon immersed in cold water. This is a special treat called a spoon sweet. In Greece, this ‘spoon sweet’ specialty is called a Submarine. It is delicious!
              In December 1993, I had a very formal 8-course meal for friends, and the 7th course was a cheese course of Roquefort with Aromatherapy sweetmeats of Bergamot candied peels, Bitter Orange candied peels and Mastic sweet on Lavender Honey Thins with a delicious wine of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise. It was a very successful meal.

#2 – Mastic Tomato Tale

CHEWING MASTIC. In 2018 at a Resin Distillation Conference in Spokane, WA., I asked several well-known gum chewers if they wanted to try Mastic. “Yes, of course,” they said, but in fact, they were unable to learn to chew it or even try past 30 minutes. This is great gum and can be chewed for 4 hours without losing its eponymous taste, and it is good for the teeth.

And the occasional chewing of a Mastic ball will ease the pain of a tooth carie or cavity, act as a mouth antibacterial, and has in the past been used as a temporary tooth filling.  Remember this when you travel out of the country to carry some Mastic resin with you, both to burn as a magical fragrant incense and also as a first aid remedy. Really, we are forgetting some of our simplest first-aid skills!

Mastic resin pieces are also delicious when chewed like American chewing gum. It has a mild taste that is not lost after hours of chewing, and it can be chewed for hours. The problem is that Mastic takes a few times to learn how to chew, as a small ball of resin needs to be soaked in the mouth first to get to perfect mastication texture. Then you need to roll it around in the mouth once in a while so that it doesn’t stick to your fillings.

Mastic is tasteless in a tasty way, and a small tear (piece) can be chewed for hours without seeming to melt away. Since it does not have a strong taste, it doesn’t get tiring to chew like American chewing gum. I put a small tear in my mouth when writing this part of the article, slowly let it soften in my mouth, and then chewed it a bit and still had it in my mouth three hours later. It was pleasant to chew. I also love Chicle but think I like Mastic more.

The taste is floral with a bitter edge. As you hold it in your mouth, saliva begins to flow, which softens the Mastic, chewing becomes easier, and the floral taste softens and becomes quite pleasant.­


AROMATHERAPY SALONS …  Years ago, I would have meetings in my home with women that I called “Aromatherapy Salons.” We would discuss various aromatic subjects, aromatherapy, essential oils, and drink fragrant tea, have tea cookies and sweetmeats. (A sweetmeat is a delicacy prepared with sugar, honey, or the like, as preserves, candy, or, formerly, cakes or pastries. Usually, they are any sweet delicacy of the confectionery or candy kind, such as candied fruit, sugar-covered nuts, sugarplums, bonbons, or balls or sticks of candy) One of my favorites sweetmeats was to use the Mastic from Greece that came as a smooth sweet white cream; a small spoonful on a cookie with tea was delicious, but it was especially tasty with bitter coffee.

• • •

HYDROSOL: I do not as yet know a source for the hydrosol or its use. However, I postulate that its hydrosol would make a good antibacterial mouthwash.

 PLEASE NOTE ~ A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components; most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

 Key Use ~ Resin is a masticatory and is also used to burn to cleanse spaces and EO in skin care.

 HISTORICAL USES ~ The Mastic resin has been used for chewing since the time of Theophrastus, in relieving halitosis and as a filler for caries, and is also used in varnishes for oil pictures.  It is also an ingredient in Ouzo. Ouzo is a high-proof drink whose production begins with distillation in copper stills of 96% alcohol by volume and herbs. Anise is added, sometimes with other flavorings such as Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Fennel, Mastic, and Star Anise.

“In January 1992, National Geographic mentioned that Columbus, sent by Genoese traders to cash in on the money-making crop of Mastic, visited Chios at least once”. — The Aromatherapy Book.

INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ It is believed that the Sardinian warbler [a bird] is only found near fruiting shrubs of this species [Mastic].2 The tear-shaped drops of Mastic gum are associated with Saint Isadoros, whose martyred body was dragged under a Mastic tree where it wept the resinous tears called Mastic.

Ancient Egyptians employed Mastic during their embalming procedures, while Biblical scholars believe that bakha—derived from the Hebrew term for weeping (and, thus, the tear-shaped pieces of Mastic gum)—was none other than the Mastic tree.



—–Researchers at Nottingham University Hospital and Barnet General Hospital have found that Chios Mastic is an effective treatment for ulcers. The findings showed that even in small doses of one gram a day for two weeks, Mastic gum could cure peptic ulcers.

—–In recent years, university researchers have provided scientific evidence for the medicinal properties of Mastic resin. A 1985 study by the University of Thessaloniki and by the Meikai University discovered that Mastic could reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth by 41.5%. A 1998 study by the University of Athens found that Mastic oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties. A recent and extensive study showed that Mastic gum reduced H. pylori populations after an insoluble and sticky polymer (poly-β-myrcene) constituent of Mastic gum was removed and taken for a longer period of time. Further analysis showed the acid fraction was the most active antibacterial extract, and the most active pure compound was isomasticadienolic acid.

CONTRAINDICATIONS ~ Side effects of taking Mastic gum may include nausea, diarrhea, and constipation.

Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. Arctander. 1960
Aromatherapy Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose, San Francisco, California, 1992
Dioscorides. The Greek Herbal of Dioscorides. Translated in 1655 by Goodyer and printed in 1933.
Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Krieger Publishing. Florida. 1976
1Langenheim, Jean H. Plant Resins • Chemistry, Evolution, Ecology, Ethnobotany.  Timber Press. 2003
2Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:
3Wikipedia – Mastic
4. https://winefolly.com/deep-dive/retsina-wine-making-surprising-comeback/

Other References are included within the body of the work.

The Jeanne Rose Aromatherapy Studies Course carries these blog posts as well as much more information on the many aspects of essential oils, hydrosols, absolutes, and aromatic ingredients for health and skin care.

My latest analyses of Mastic using the Advanced Vocabulary of OdorSee Natural Perfumery Workbook to use.


ORRIS ROOT – a profile

Orris Root (Iris pallida, [Iris germanica]) is this Iris’s aged, peeled, and dried rhizome.

This Iris plant bursts into life in the spring in a variety of colors. The flower is fragrant

and has been named after the Rainbow Goddess, Iris.

photo by JeanneRose showing a small 1-liter copper still, and two types of Orris root in front of a lincrusta wall.


By Jeanne Rose

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL/NAMING INFORMATION ~  Orris Root, Iris germanica, or I. pallida, and from the subgroup ‘florentina’ is the substance commonly called Orris root and is really the rhizome product of a particular Iris. The apothecary’s name is Rhizoma iridis. And other common names include Queen Elizabeth root and “eye of heaven.”

FAMILY ~ A perennial and hardy flowering plant of the family Iridaceae and grows from a rhizome, the modified main stem of a plant growing horizontally underground.

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~  It is also called Iris florentina germanica, which means ‘of Germany.’ Florentina means ‘of Florence’ (Italy). This incredible ancient plant is native to the Mediterranean and used in Greece, Rome, and Macedonia in unguents and perfumes.

HISTORICAL & INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ The plant was known, dried, and ground to powder, used for its violet scent, “to scent bedclothes in the 1480s and for flavoring certain gins.  It has been used medicinally as a fixative in perfume, a fixative scent in potpourris, and for powdering wigs and hair in the 18th century. The flowers are possibly the origin of the ‘fleur-de-lis’ of France.”1. To the French, the flower is often used in ceremony, symbolically or natural; the three petals symbolize faith, wisdom, and valor.

            It was possibly used to decorate the Sphinx and was known to Thutmose III of the era 1501-1447 BC. In the seventh century AD, the Slavic people used Iris germanica and other herbs in cosmetics.

A Jeanne Rose Orris Root Tomato Tale

It was a lovely spring day in 1980, and I was traveling in Boulder, CO. I had come to visit friends, talk about bath herbs to other friends, and eat great food. They picked me up at the Denver, CO. airport, and we drove to Boulder, where I would stay for a few days. We were driving along and passed by a farm with row after row of Iris in flower in many colors and hues. I had already grown the Iris florentina at my home in San Francisco and was currently aging the root in my desk drawer. But this was a magnificent surprise to see such a lovely field and to be inundated with the astonishing sweet scent of the blooming Iris. I was surprised at the intensity of the odor that wafted into the car off the field; the scent was sublime, with a lush floral odor mixed with the spring breeze and the mountains nearby. Iris flowers are a wonder of nature that is appreciated for their exquisite beauty and fragrance. I believe the farm is still there in the middle of Boulder, called Longs Gardens, and is a great choice for a visit in May. (https://longsgardens.com/about/)

 From a copy in my personal library, The Romance of Perfume,  illustrated by George Barbier and written by LeGalliene.

Madame Pompadour is attended to by a lady, powdering her enormous coiffure with Orris root, and on her dressing table are bottles of perfume. From a copy in my personal library, The Romance of Perfume,  illustrated by George Barbier and written by LeGalliene.

ENDANGERED OR NOT~ Some species of Iris are endangered.  The leaves and roots can cause skin irritations and allergies in some people.

Several plants of Iris germanical, that provide the Orris root.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ The color of this species of Iris flower that gives Orris root is white, and in its second year can grow as tall as a person. “The flower petals reach the height of their beauty by the second year, but the roots must age for 2 to 3 years before they reach full maturity when they contain the highest concentration of the desired irone compounds…. It is necessary for the ground where it grows to be carefully weeded and maintained throughout the period. It has been said that whole families assume this task, and when the plant has arrived at maturity, they tend to the long, labor-intensive pulling, cutting, peeling, and drying process.” – David Mark of Renaissance Aromas.

Orris root smells just like  powder

And it cannot get any louder

I love the scent Orris

With Rose is a chorus

Certainly not like clam chowder.

Jeanne Rose home-grown Orris root from 2-year-old plants, and aged in a desk drawer for 3 years.

Planted in 1972, harvested in 1975, and aged in a desk drawer until 1978

PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELD ~ Plant rhizomes, mainly from Morocco, are harvested, peeled, dried, and powdered, and are processed by supercritical carbon dioxide extraction yielding 1- kilo of extract from around 34 kilos of raw material. It is also solvent extracted for an absolute as well as CO2 extracted.

HOME DISTILLING ~ You peel these rhizomes first, that is, if you want peeled white Orris. After you have pulled the roots, washed, and peeled them,  I will chop them coarsely, then let them dry in a warm place, in the shade, on trays.  I used to frame up 2’ X 2’ fiberglass screening and lay the drying Orris root there for a week or so, and then put them into muslin bags and let them mature in a dry place for three years. They have to be protected from rodents and bugs. I have also taken perfectly shaped rhizomes and aged them in my desk drawer so that no creatures could find them and gnaw at them.  After they have dried and the odor has has been obtained, you powder and use or distill.

            If you decide to distill, I recommend soaking/macerating the chopped roots in the distillation waters for 24 hours before beginning the distillation in the same waters, hydro-distillation. It also should be a warm day when you start the soaking and the distillation. When I distill, I have a copper screen in the bottom of the pot that is supported on a short stand. I put the chopped roots on the screen along with the maceration waters. Go low and slow. [go low on heat and slow with the distillation] Don’t be in a hurry when you are distilling, and watch the pot constantly so that it does not overheat.


Benoit Roger says, “Steam can’t be used alone; it is usually hydrodistilled with continuous stirring. The rhizomes must be powdered and soaked overnight in hot water and then distilled for at least one day with cohobation. You must keep the condenser above 50-55 degrees C to allow the orris butter to come out of the condenser or raise the temperature to 60 degrees C periodically. I can’t tell you THE exact ratio of orris/water you need as it depends on the still, heating, agitation, or not, but it should be quite high (1/10 – 1/12, and some say more…) to not burn the plant material. Good luck”.


  • Color – pale ivory
  • Clarity – semi-clear
  • Viscosity – slightly viscous
  • Taste – powder-like  taste, very somewhat bitter
  • Intensity of odor  – 2
  • Tenacity – If used in enough quantity will add some tenacity to the odor – 5
  • Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment ~ The Iris pallida of Italy and China has floral, powder, and green notes; from Serbia and Morocco, it is floral, powder, fatty, and sweet woody; the Iris germanica often has a fruity note. This distinctive soft powdery, violet-like odor is simply luxurious, and with it comes an aura of romance and child-like happiness. Orris root blends well with florals of Champa, Neroli, Rose, and Rose Geranium and green notes of Violet leaf and Galbanum.  
  • This is a fixative note: when added to a perfume, it holds, strengthens, and fixes the odor.


5.Scent Snapshot is part of the Aromatherapy Studies Course,



SOURCES ~  You can obtain the CO2 extract from www.PrimaFleur.com. Get it when you can as this lovely product so useful in perfumery is sometimes very difficult to obtain.

            Use the oil in moderation in your work; sometimes, it is more appropriate to use the herb/plant for its therapeutic properties in a compress, tincture, or powder.

I originally purchased my Iris plants (I. florentina) in 1972 and probably obtained them from Old House Gardens; see I. florentina, I. pallida at (https://oldhousegardens.com/display/?cat=iris). You may need to order now for fall planting and remember to order now to get some two years in the future.  The true heirloom plants for old-time fragrance are getting harder and harder to find.

This work was sponsored and
supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

A small bottle of Prima Fleur Orris, Select from Iris pallida.



Although Orris may have been used medicinally at one time, its chief uses now are in perfumery, soap making, and to flavor liquors, from gin to vermouth. The carbon dioxide extracts, CO2, are closer in composition to the scent as it occurs in the botanical plant than those obtained by other techniques.

PROPERTIES AND USES ~ Orris root powder was used as a face or wig powder and mixed with talcum as a body powder.  It is now primarily used as a concrete or CO2 extract in fine perfumery.

……….Diffuse/Diffusion ~ I love this scent, the flower, the aged root, and the Orris Select.  But I admit to never using it in a diffuser as it is one of the more expensive oils, and I think putting it into a diffuser is wasteful.                                                    

……….Emotional/Energetic Use ~ Inhaling the scent of this plant or its oil, by itself or in a floral blend, is a soothing, relaxing way to calm your mind.  It blends well with most florals and woods. The root powdered also has been frequently mentioned ritually as an ingredient in spells, particularly in love magic, protection, and in divination rituals.

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS of Orris root ~ oil of Orris (0.1–0.2%), a yellow-white mass containing myristic acid. The oil of orris is sometimes sold as orris butter. Other components include fat, resin, starch, mucilage, bitter extractive, and a glucoside called iridin or irisin. The root needs to be harvested and aged/cured before processing. “During this curing period, oxidative degradation of iridals to irons occurs (Brenna et al., 2003; Schütz et al., 2011). It is these irones (α‑irone, β‑irone, and γ‑irone) that are at the heart of the distinctive violet-like smell that has made it, along with its natural fixative properties, so popular in perfumery and also to the distiller (Krick et al., 1983)”.4 

Concrete of Iris pallida - Alberta-grown and CO2 extracted shown in a jar and diluted in a bottle.

Concrete of Iris pallida – Alberta-grown and CO2 extracted

PERFUMERY & BLENDS ~ The CO2 is from Serbia and Morocco and blends well with florals of Neroli, Rose, and Prima Fleur’s Malawi Geranium as well as green notes of Violet leaf and Galbanum. The distinctive violet-like odor is the definition of luxury and feels like a romantic indulgence. While the Iris pallida of Italy and China has distinct floral and green notes, the Iris germanica boasts fruitier, richer notes useful in more industries.

            MAKING  A TINCTURE OF ORRIS – Here is a technique I use, and it might be useful to someone:

Place freshly ground powder of aged Orris root, Iris pallida, into a quart-size glass jar with a good-fitting lid. Use about a cup full of Orris. Cover by a scant inch with pure 95% grape spirits, I use http://www.organicalcohol.com. As the Orris takes up the alcohol, add more to keep the level at that scant inch. You can use less; just adjust the proportions. Shake vigorously by succussion, every day, as you would for a regular tincture. Store in a quiet, dark, dry place. It takes about 3-6 months for it to be ready. When ready, filter the liquid through a fine grade laboratory type filter paper or an ultra-fine silk cloth and then press the remainder through a tincture press into a new clean 1-pint bottle. Label the bottle. If possible, use the proper laboratory equipment. Let the liquid settle. There may be a fine powder that has settled to the bottom. I will then use this tincture as part of the diluent in a perfume or essential oil blend, and the powder can be kept for a new production of the tincture. 

Some people will dry out the alcohol by pouring the liquid into a shallow glass dish, leaving it open in a safe place away from family and pets. There should be good ventilation. Check it regularly. The alcohol will evaporate, leaving a layer of a butter-like resinous substance that smells very good. Wait until all the alcohol is gone. This will depend on the amount and the surface area of the dish you have used. Use an immaculately clean stainless-steel spatula to scrape the buttery layer off the dish and place it in a separate container. Label and date it. This particular process can be tiring, and, in my opinion, I will always choose the actual tincture.

            TINCTURING PROCESS ~ Septimus Piesse says (page 134, The Art of Perfumery) that the classic perfume tincture for Orris root is 7 lbs. of aged crushed Orris root in 1 gallon of spirits to ‘stand together (be macerated) for one month before the extract is fit to take off.’ “It requires considerable time to drain away, and, to prevent loss, the remainder of the Orris should be placed in the tincture press.”

There is much information in this book as well as in Steffen Arctander’s book, regarding this substance.

BLENDING WITH FORMULA ~  I have used Orris root Total from a wild source of Iris pallida. This wonderful perfume item was grown in Alberta, and CO2 extracted for the aged root’s sweet, soft, floral scent. Delicious.

A perfume formula

            Rose oil with Orris root is a classic scent combination, making a fantastic perfume. Rose Oil is a general tonic and powerful nervous system tonic when inhaled – historically known to be relaxing; the SD oil is used in skin care as a tonic astringent and gentle tonic to the skin. The two items together are quite lovely.

• § •

These two formulas are from my New Age Creations company,

with more in The Herbal Body Book.

Two formulas, one for sachet and one for potpourri using Orris root.

• • •

HERBAL USES OF ORRIS  ROOT ~ The dried root of the Iris florentina, Orris root, was used as a teething item for children. I used it for my second child. It has a pleasant violet smell and a pleasant taste. Then it was deemed allergenic, and one could no longer obtain the carved roots for teething. 

            When I first started my company in 1966, New Age Creations, it was all about my design in clothing for rock ‘n roll stars; in 1969, I switched to herbal products and made a tooth powder of equal proportions of chalk or baking soda and Orris root. This was considered an excellent dentifrice as long ago as 1854.

            In the ‘30s, Orris root was given as a treatment for asthma, and on the other hand, people who have allergies are often sensitive to Orris root. 

            There are some wonderful herbal formulas for Orris root powder in the Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book; see p. 314 for a sweet body powder.3

#45 Milk Bath (1973) – from New Age Creations

1 lb. dry milk instant nonfat dry)
¼  lb. Oatmeal (meal or powder)
¼  lb. Oatmeal (meal or powder)
1 oz by vol Orris root – powder
1 oz by vol. Orange Peel – powder
1 oz by vol. Almond Meal – powder
½ oz by vol. Comfrey root – powder
Weigh and divide into  8 oz bottles (4 oz by weight)

This slightly brown/tan product is due to the Comfrey root and Almond meal. This milk/oat/Orris bath is healing, soothing, relaxing, and a tonic to the skin. I have a variety of recipes for this wonderful bath, and this is only one of them. Use about ½ cup per bath (or more).

• •

HYDROSOL ~ This is another one of those plants that should not be collected to distill.  It takes a long time to start, two years to grow, and another three years to cure/age to develop the scent, so why waste your work throwing it into a pot with lots of water to distill?

HOWEVER, there is a recipe from 1779 for a distilled water, called Angelic Water, of a most agreeable scent, from the Toilet of Flora …

Angelic Water, Put into a large alembic the following ingredients, Benjamin of four ounces; Storax of two ounces; Yellow Sanders an ounce: Cloves two drachms; two or three bits of Florentine Orrice, half the Peel of a Lemon, two Nutmegs, half an ounce of Cinnamon, two quarts of Rose-water, a pint of Orange Flower-Water, and a pint of magisterial Balm-water. Put the whole into an alembic well-luted; distill in a water bath; and what you draw off will prove an exquisite Angelic Water.– “The Toilet of Flora” printed in London in 1779.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components; most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

Key Use ~ Orris root Concrète and oil are best used in fine perfumery.

Use the essential oils in moderation. Use the herb tea, juice, or resin when it is more appropriate.
Often, the herbal use is preferred over the distillate, oil, or hydrosol.


A photo of Jeanne Rose collection of concrete, butter, dried roots and CO2 extract.

Jeanne Rose Collection of Orris Concrète and dried rhizome

CONTRAINDICATIONS ~ Web MD states that Orris root may not be used freshly dug and eaten “as it is possibly unsafe to use the fresh plant juice or root. It can cause severe irritation of the mouth, as well as stomach pain, vomiting, and bloody stools.2.


1.Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
2. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-645/orris
3.Rose, Jeanne. Herbal Body Book, published by www.jeannerose.net/books.html. P. 314.
4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/orris-root

Anonis, Danute Pajaujis: Flower Oils and Floral Compounds in Perfumery, Perfumer and Flavorist. 1993.
Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin
Coombes, Allen J. Dictionary of Plant Names. Timber Press, Oregon, 1985
Piesse, Septimus. The Art of Perfumery. 1867
Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:
Rose, Jeanne. Herbal Studies Course. Jeanne Rose, California: 1992


Safety Precautions to Remember.
Iris plant



A Compilation of Sources

A bottle of Massoia oil


COMMON NAME/NAMING INFORMATION ~ Cryptocarya massoia, Other Names include  Massoy, Massoïa

Family ~ Lauraceae

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ The genus Cryptocarya of the family Lauraceae is comprised of more than 350 species distributed throughout the tropics, subtropics, and temperate regions of the world. “Several species from this genus have been used extensively as traditional medicines in a number of ethnobotanical practices. The Massoia tree, C. massoy, is a species endemic to the island of New Guinea between 400 m and 1000 m altitude”.3

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ Some species of Cryptocarya are in danger of extinction due to loss of habitat. Massoia oil and massoia lactone, a creamy scent from the bark,   has been largely superseded by a synthetic alternative because the extraction process is expensive and the process of removing the bark kills the tree.1

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF Massoia tree HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ The Massoia tree, C. massoy, is a species that grows best in rainforests and is endemic to the island of New Guinea between 400 m and 1000 m altitude”.3 It grows also in Sumatra. The aromatic bark from the tree has been an article of commerce for centuries.

Massoia bark freshly chopped

See #6 Reference.

EXTRACTION ~ the BARK IS USED FOR BY CO2 EXTRACTION OR DISTILLATION. ~ Massoia oil comes from the bark that has been dried for several days and then ground to a powder.

         Massoia bark has a sweet, coconut-like aroma and is steam distilled or CO2 extracted to yield Massoia bark oil. The bark is obtained by cutting the tree at the base, making circular incisions at one-meter intervals, lifting the bark off, and allowing it to dry. Each tree yields on average 65 kg of air-dried bark.

         Robertet’ Massoia wood grows in Papua as well as Sumatra where seeds are imported. “The bark is dried for several days before being reduced to powder in order to be distilled. We were told that delightful chocolate, butter, and caramel notes are spread all over the factory each time a distillation is realized. As a result, essential oils, (occur) with pleasing milky coconut signature.”2

YIELD ~ A recent investigation by Rali et al. showed that exhaustive hydro-distillation of the bark; heartwood and fruits of the Massoia tree afford pale, yellow-colored oils in 0.7, 1.2, and 1.0 % yields,

CAUTIONS ~ It is a slight stimulant but also can be an irritant to the skin. Use in moderation.

SOURCE (S) ~ My favorite place to purchase quality essential oils and absolutes is Prima Fleur Botanicals in Petaluma.  They have an excellent quality selection of skincare, haircare, body care, and aromatic therapy from true plant-based ingredients.

ORGANOLEPTIC CHARACTERISTICS of MASSOIA CO2 ~ Organoleptic properties are aspects of these essential oils and absolutes as experienced by the senses including sight, taste, smell, touch, and texture. And I include both the intensity and tenacity of the odor. These properties include a way to discriminate and describe these substances. Another way to define the term organoleptic is what a person experiences via the senses. “Sensory Evaluation is a scientific discipline used to evoke, measure, analyze, and interpret those responses to products that are perceived by the senses of sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. The terms Organoleptic and Sensory were, historically, interchangeable.”5

  • Color  – medium-yellow
  • Clarity – clear
  • Viscosity – non-viscous
  • Intensity of odor – 5-7
  • Tenacity of odor – 5-6

ODOR DESCRIPTION/ AROMA ASSESSMENT – MASSOIA CO2 ~ Smells Like Coconut, some say creamy Chocolate, but I say Coconut. Massoia Bark essential oil is considered an oil for perfumery. It has a deep, rich, warm, buttery, intense aroma with coconut tones. This oil is high in lactones which gives Massoia its distinctive aromatic notes. In perfumery use it as a base or fixative.

CHEMISTRY ~ Detailed chemical evaluation of these distillates using GC/MS revealed the major components in the bark and heartwood oils to be the C-10 Massoia lactone, or 5,6-dihydro-6-pentyl-2H-pyran-2-one, (65-68 %), and the C-12 Massoia lactone, or 5,6-dihydro-6-heptyl-2H-pyran-2-one, (17-28 %), while the major fruit oil constituent was benzyl benzoate (68%).3



PROPERTIES AND USES ~ The aromatic bark from the tree has been an article of commerce for centuries.

It has been used by Javanese and Balinese women to prepare a warming ointment, called bobory, and for some fair-skinned people, it causes a  reddening of the skin from using this. Today the concentrated oil from Massoia bark is considered a skin irritant.

Caution ~ It is a slight stimulant but also can be an irritant. Use in moderation.

ENERGETICS AND BY INHALATION ~ If you use Massoia bark in a relaxing inhalation blend, inhale but without letting the blend touch your nose.  This oil can be a skin irritant. The Massoia scent itself is stress-relieving, relaxing, and calming. Try a blend with Bergamot, Hay, and Roman Chamomile, and use Coconut oil as a carrier.

Diffuse/Diffusion ~ Not the best essence to use in a blend in a diffusor.

Massoia CO2 oil showing color and clarity over a coconut, reminding you of its scent.

Smells like Coconut

BLENDING & PERFUMERY ~ Adds a coconut touch of scent to any perfume. Blend it with florals and woods such as Rose, Sandalwood, and Atlas Cedar.  Combine with any fruity odors you might have such as Boronia, and possibly Davana, Owyhee, Raspberry seed extract, Osmanthus, Hay, and Roman chamomile.

            It has a Coconut scent and works with Coconut oil and Coconut CO2 Extract, and has great tenacity in perfumery, and if diluted properly this is a good choice for scenting skin and for body care products.

[The coconut tree (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the family Arecaceae (palm family) and the only species of the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the whole coconut palm or the seed, or the fruit, which, botanically, is a drupe, not a nut.]

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

HYDROSOL ~ I have never seen the hydrosol of Massoia Bark. If I had it, I would be very careful in my usage.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

HERBAL USE ~ I personally have never had the Massoia bark in my hands or seen the tree with my own eyes, and thus am not comfortable recommending any particular herbal uses.

KEY USE ~ The oil is used in perfumery.

Massoia oil smells like Coconut.
It doesn’t smell like Walnut.
It sort of bites.
But not like mites.
You can add to Perfume if in a deep rut.

HISTORICAL USES ~ Known in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as Massoy bark, Massoia essential oil was once widely used as a natural ‘coconut’ flavoring. [This aromatic bark from the tree has been an article of commerce for centuries.]  Natural massoia lactone has been largely superseded by a synthetic alternative because the extraction process is expensive and the process of removing the bark kills the tree.”4

INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ Massoia bark oil is used in the flavor industry as an additive in butter and milk flavors (international FEMA code 3744) under kosher guidelines. The Massoia lactones are rare essential oil components and have only been found in a few other plants.

            ScentIndonesia.com harvests massoia barks from their own regrown Massoia trees that have been planted on the remote higher ground in Papua New Guinea. This is with the help of local farmers without endangering the area from deforestation.

            The current global supply of Massoia bark oil comes from Indonesia, primarily from Irian Jaya which is the western half of New Guinea. Its main use is in the flavor industry. Its main lactone has also been identified in some flowers such as Tuberose.



Scent snapshot of Massoia from 2009


Cautions and precautions using Massoia



  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massoia_lactone
  2. Robertet_group FB page
  3. https://bojensen.net/EssentialOilsEng/EssentialOils.htm
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massoia_lactone
  5. Organoleptic Testing or Sensory Testing. Bob Baron, 4-1-21
  6.  https://ultranl.com/products/massoia-bark-oil-indonesia/


Rose, Jeanne • Natural Botanical Perfumery. Published by http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html
Ultra National Indonesia Products.

Perfumery bottle called Rising Up


CHAMPA – a profile

Champaca oil, CO2 extracted on a bed of yellow cashmere and black silk scarf.

By Jeanne Rose ~ 2023

CHAMPACA, Magnolia champaca, also seen as M. aurantiaca and Michelia alba, has many common names including all forms of Champa, Shamba, and more.

Family ~ Michelia is one of the most popular flowering trees and the genus is now called Magnolia. It belongs to one of the ancient families of the plant kingdom having existed for 95 million years. This family Magnoliaceae of flowering plants with many species most of which have bisexual flowers.

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ Champaca tree is native to South Asia, Indochina, and southern China. The CO2-extracted oil comes from India.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ The species, Magnolia champaca, is famous for its lush aromatic flower and is included in IUCN red list species as threatened in its geographical distribution range.2 Champaca flowers are often used during festivals as necklaces or hair bands.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH MICHELIA CHAMPACA is a large evergreen tree used as a timber tree.  It is a hardwood with a long straight trunk with a close tapering crown. It is a medium-growing tree, attaining a height of 33 m or more, and can attain a size of 2-4 m around its middle. The bark is light gray and smooth, and the leaves are generally long and wide, shining above, hairless on the other side; the old leaves are yellow. In general, it grows in moist, deep, well-drained, good-quality soil. It grows in deep valleys, and some grow best in foothills In its natural habitat, M. champaca grows in areas where temperatures are up to 47.5°C and annual rainfall is 100 inches or more. It thrives in a damp climate.

An open flower on the champaca tree.

CHAMPACA flowers are usually not distilled, but CO2 extracted ~ It is picked fresh, and then semi-dried and sent to the extraction plant. Extraction of the fresh flowers of Michelia champaca L. with liquid CO2 provides a floral extract with a yield of 1.0 ± 0.04 wt.%. 4

Yield ~ solvent-free supercritical CO2 extraction of flowers  had a higher yield than the essential oil, and in one study the yield of the concrete was 1.5 ± 0.05% vs. essential oil in 0.03% yield.3

CHAMPACA FLOWERS ARE USED ~ for the extraction of the scent by carbon dioxide extraction for an absolute.



  • Color – dark brown with a yellowish cast
  • Clarity – Opaque
  • Viscosity – semi-viscous
  • Intensity of odor – 4
  • Tenacity of odor – 5
  • Taste – bitter

ODOR DESCRIPTION/ AROMA ASSESSMENT ~ The scent is deeply floral and wood with many sub-notes that include hay, leather, and powder.


A scent snapshot of Champaca.

Magnolia champaca, is rare and has a strong perfume, and is used – for example in hair it is worn singly or as a small corsage but rarely as a whole garland, and for bridal beds, it is most often with Jasmine and Roses and in bowls of water to be placed around rooms for colorful decoration and for the perfumed flowers.”


I have Champa that I use as perfume.

It comes from flowers abloom.

In the bedroom, it seems

When my heart is abeam

Champa blooms and then there’s perfume, I assume.



This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals


The extract from the flowers is used in the preparation of perfume. Medicinally, the tree has wide applications; the bark is used to prepare a tonic and as a fever reducer, the leaves to feed silkworms and make tea, the wood cut into boards for tea boxes and furniture, the oil extracted from flowers is used for perfumery, whole plant extracts used to treat coughs and arthritis, and for relieving eye troubles and gout.

Properties and Uses ~ The plant is scientifically stated to exhibit antipyretic, anti-inflammatory,, antioxidant, antimicrobial, cytotoxic, antidiabetic, and analgesicactivities.6

SKINCARE WITH CHAMPA OIL ~  Champa is a somewhat drying oil, useful for normal to oily skin. Mixed with carrier oil and other skin-loving scents and oils, it absorbs quickly into the skin leaving it smooth, hydrated, and silky.

DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION ~ Champa works very well when used in a blend with citrus oils, or with Lavender oil. It will soften the bright scent of the citrus and floral notes, and when diffused is very pleasant in a room, particularly the living room or bedrooms.

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USE ~  “Champa is considered a sacred incense that purifies personal space, clearing out stagnant or negative energy and filling your space with positive vibrations. It is known for its calming powers reducing stress and anxiety. Cleanse, purify, and protect your energy with a blend that includes Champa.

Champa Limerick

Champa is the oil of the day.
It is sweet and reminds you of hay.
When the morning is over
I feel like I’m in Clover
Rolling in Champa until May

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ “M. champaca is famous for the sweet odor of its blossoms. The flower possesses a scent that can be described as a fresh, floral and strong sweet jasmine-like scent. Most of the aromatic compounds encountered have rather strong odors, and especially the esters are regarded as possessing floral notes. Methyl benzoate (heavy-sweet, deep-floral), indole (floral character highly reminiscent of jasmine and orange blossom), and 1,8-cineole (fresh, camphoraceous) are contributing significantly to the fragrance of M. champaca flowers.” 5.

PERFUMERY with Champa ~ The tree flowers were traditionally used to make fragrant hair and massage oils. The vernacular name “Joy perfume tree” comes from this. Many perfumers are using Champaca Absolute as single-note fragrances or in blends for perfumery.

Blends Best with florals, woods, Lavender, and citrus type of odors.



Fun Day Champaca Perfume from 2013

Top Note is composed of
25 drops Grapefruit (pink or white)
15 drops Bergamot

Bridge: 1 drop Cardamom
2 drops Litsea cubeba


Heart Note is composed of
10 drops Neroli
10 drops Ylang-ylang
15 drops Petitgrain
5  drops Champaca.

Bridge Note: Amber or Amber complex


Base Note is composed of
20 drops Champaca
20 drops Vanilla Abs

Make and succuss each note individually and allow it to age for at least a week. Then add your neutral spirits. I prefer neutral grape spirits from Organicalcohol.com. 240 drops of neutral grape spirits. Succuss again and age for at least two weeks to let the scents incorporate.  You will now have 33% active perfume ingredients.

CHAMPACA SOLID WAX is left after the absolute is removed making an excellent base for a solid perfume. This floral wax has all the properties for good skin care and it smells delightful. Floral waxes are created as a result of solvent extraction that is used on delicate flowers whose scent would be destroyed by steam distillation. Floral waxes are available to add scent and texture to skincare products as well as the incredible moisturizing capability for the skin. Champaca helps to moisturize, soothe and soften, it is a free radical scavenger, is skin-protective, and is recommended for products to restore the skin to a smoother surface.

Formula for solid perfume using champaca


HYDROSOL ~ I have never had a real bottle of Champaca hydrosol to use.  And thus, do not have any experience with it. There are some who pick the flowers, soak them in water for a few hours to extract some scent, and then hydro/steam-distilled with that extraction water, with low heat and slowly, for the hydrosol.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

HERBAL USES OF  CHAMPA ~ The flowers are used in South Asia for several purposes. In India, they are primarily used for worship at temples, and in the home, and are generally worn in the hair by girls and women for beauty and as a natural perfume. You can float the flowers in bowls of water to scent the room, weave them together in garlands, or as a fragrant decoration for bridal beds.

HISTORICAL/RELIGIOUS USES ~ Michelia champaca is also known as Champa, Yellow Champa, Golden Campa, or Fragrant Champa. It is highly revered by the followers of Hinduism and Buddhism who use Michelia flowers during religious ceremonies. Tibetans believe that the Buddha will find enlightenment under the white flower canopy of the champaca tree.

INTERESTING INFORMATION ~ The extract from the flowers of Michelia (Magnolia) alba is used in the preparation for the famous ‘Joy’ perfume.

            The civet of Sri Lanka, Paradoxurus montanus is said to have a very pleasant odor that is somewhat similar to Champaca flowers. This is unlike other civets that have a urinous odor.

ABSTRACT/SCIENTIFIC DATA from 2008 ~ Results ~ M. champaca was studied and the ethanolic extract exhibited significant antihyperglycemic activity but did not produce hypoglycemia in fasted normal rats. Apart from this extract, the crude aqueous and petroleum ether extracts were found active only at the end of the first hour. Treatment of diabetic rats with ethanolic extract of this plant restored the elevated biochemical parameters significantly … and the activity was found dose-dependent.
Conclusion: This study supports the traditional claim that the ethanolic extract of this plant could be added to traditional preparations for the ailment of various diabetes-associated complications.1

KEY USE ~ This is a fine scent that is useful in perfumery and in your yoga or meditative practice.

§ §

Resources ~

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals

A single bottle of Champaca scent from India - courtesy of Prima Fleur Botanicals


  1. Jarald E, Joshi S B, Jain D C. Antidiabetic activity of flower buds of Michelia champaca Linn. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2008 [cited 2023 Feb 2];40:256-60
  2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssas.2021.02.003
  3. Composition of the concrete, absolute, headspace and essential oil of the flowers of Michelia champaca Linn.  https://doi.org/10.1002/ffj.1742
  4. Liquid CO2 extraction of flowers and fractionation of floral concrete of Michelia champaca Linn by Prasant K. Rout, Satyanarayan Naik, Y. Ramachandra Rao.

5.Volatiles from Michelia champaca Flower: Comparative analysis by Simultaneous Distillation-Extraction and Solid Phase Microextraction.  Disnelys Báeza , Diego Moralesa and Jorge A. Pinob.

6. Pharmacological basis for the medicinal use of Michelia champaca in gut, airways, and cardiovascular disorders by Fatima Saqib, et all : Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine,  2018, Volume 11, issue 4, pages 292-296.


Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992

Source: Aromatherapy Course – Home & Family


Safety Precautions Table
photo of half-opened flower


a bottle of Usnea Lichen on a copper stand

USNEA – A Lichen

By Jeanne Rose ~ 2-28-23

Usnea Lichen, Usnea barbata grows all over the world. It is very sensitive to air pollution and might even be a pollution indicator plant.

It is a cultivated lichen/herb, and the CO2 is extracted in Germany. Usnea herb is an extremely useful antimicrobial, and antifungal, is used internally and externally, and the herb and its tincture are effective on the lungs and used in skincare. It is often used to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. Usnea is somewhat anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The plant itself is also used to create attractive dyes.

            The oil is an interesting deep non-volatile note and rich deep low-intensity, high-tenacity odor for perfume blends and acts as a fixative in a blend or perfume.

USNEA LICHEN (Usnea barbata)  is the common name and the Latin binomial of a commonly seen ‘moss’ that hangs in the trees. Other common names include Old Man’s Beard, Beard Lichen, Beard Moss, Moose Moss, and Tree Moss (although it is NOT a moss). This lichen, (a symbiotic combination of algae and a fungus) belongs to the Family ~ of Parmeliaceae. The common names pretty well describe the appearance of Usnea. It resembles Spanish Moss, however, the two are not related.

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ commonly known, the medicinal herb Usnea barbata is indigenous to the northern hemisphere; there are over 300 species of Usnea.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ Some species are now extinct or threatened in Europe. U. barbata is extinct in Finland and threatened in the Czech Republic.

CONTRAINDICATIONS ~ It is suggested that Usnea not be used as a food or dietary supplement because of liver toxicity related to the content of usnic acid.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ Lichens grow on trees that look like a single plant but are, in fact primarily algae and fungi. Usnea is a genus of mostly pale grayish-green fruticose (having often branched thallus) lichens that are without leaves, with tassel-like ‘threads’ that anchor on the bark or the tree twigs.

Golden Gate Park Arboretum showing a branch covered with lichen and moss

Pine lichen and moss – Golden  Gate Park

PORTION OF PLANT USED FOR EXTRACTION, EXTRACTION METHODS ~ The entire plant is harvested and extracted by CO2 in Germany.  Flaking and cutting + grinding of the lichen enabled the highest extraction yield.1

Source ~ This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.


Color ………………….. greenish-gray

Clarity ……………….. Opaque

Viscosity ……………. Semi-viscous

Intensity of odor ……….1

Tenacity …………….. 5-6

Intensity scale guide to gauge the Intensity of odor: On a scale of 1-10 if Usnea is a 1, Lavender a 2, Tea Tree a 5, Mastic about 5-6,  and Cinnamon or Massoia is 8.

Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment  ~ I have completed several odor profiles and odor snapshots of Usnea (one is at the end of this piece) and truly enjoy this soft, woody, floral, and somewhat fatty odor. It works well in any perfume to enhance the woody and floral notes.

• • •


Usnea barbata has been used in cosmetic products for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties as a preservative and deodorant. Usnea is a useful antimicrobial in both internal and external applications, especially effective on the lungs and skin. Included in products to treat bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. All of my resources stress its antibacterial properties.

It is reported to be an effective treatment for pneumonia, bronchitis, staph, strep, tuberculosis, and urinary tract infections. I have successfully used it to prevent and treat colds and flu. It boosts the immune system and can be used like echinacea. Another great thing about Usnea is that it has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Properties and Uses ~ Medical claims.

According to Paul Bergner, Author of Medical Herbalism. “The usnic acid in Usnea is effective against gram-positive bacteria such as Streptococcus and Staphylococcus, making Usnea a valuable addition to herbal formulas for sore throats and skin infections. It is also effective against a bacterium that commonly causes pneumonia”. There is reason to believe that in high concentrations, Usnea could possess some toxicity.

COSMETICS & SKIN CARE ~ Usnea barbata has been used in cosmetic and personal-care products for its antimicrobial and antifungal properties as it is a co-preservative and deodorant. Use only a preservative-free Usnea, preferably one that you have made yourself for your products, lotions, creams, or salves.  It has strong anti-microbe effects and can be used in products against body odor, hair products for dandruff or scruffy scalp, and in applications for skin blemishes.

Diffuse/Diffusion ~ Emotional/Energetic Use ~ The mystery of aromatherapy —Get to know the elusive essence that can create such a variety of emotional and physical changes.


BLENDING & PERFUMERY Usnea Lichen is cultivated from Usnea barbata, and the CO2 is extracted in Germany. It is an attractive deep non-volatile note and rich deep odor for perfume blends. Acts as a fixative in a combination or perfume.

            OTHER lichens used in Perfumery are

OAKMOSS: Evernia prunastri (Usneaceae). Oakmoss is solvent extracted, light Brown in color, opaque, medium viscous, and often used in Perfumery as a Base. It is a rich, earthy, woody scent that adds to the smell of the forest with its woody odor. Despite its name, Oakmoss is not a moss but a lichen, somewhat resinous, growing on the bark of deciduous and coniferous trees. Baskets filled with it have been found in the ancient royal tombs of Egypt, but whether it was intended for perfume is unknown.

TREEMOSS (Mousse d’arbre) Treemoss derivatives (concretes, absolutes) are mainly prepared from the lichen species Pseudevernia furfuracea (L.) Zopf. with Usnea barbata and other species often co-gathered in. These tree lichens can be found living on the barks of firs and pines in Southern and Central Europe, including and France and Morocco, & Balkan countries, including former Yugoslavia. Fragrant Treemoss products are prepared similarly to the practice of Oakmoss. Tree moss products are generally considered inferior to Oakmoss products and are often lower in price.

USNEA blends best with florals and woody odors as it is tenacious in a perfume but of low intensity.  It deepens floral odors.

Here is one Floral Perfume using Usnea in the base note.

A floral, green Usnea lichen perfume formula

HYDROSOL: Do not make a hydrosol of this plant, as too much must be picked for an effective distillation.  This is a plant that should be used in its pure herbal form.

HERBAL USES OF USNEA ~ Usnea herb is used to prevent or treat infections.  I have taken 8-10 drops of the tincture (made with neutral grain spirits) and diluted it in 2 X water and take this two to three times daily. I have also added Usnea to herbal mixtures to make teas, and cough drops.

To be effective, Usnea tincture should be macerated*/soaked in slowly warmed alcohol. Stuff a sturdy wide-mouth glass canning jar/container with Usnea lichen and then fill it with 75% neutral-grain alcohol**. Close the jar. Some people suggest that the jar be closed tightly. Alcohol can be dangerous to use, and you don’t want to place it directly on the stove. Put the jar into a deep container and place both in the sink. [you are making a bain marie, but in a sink]. Now macerate the Usnea for up to 48 hours. Do this by filling the larger container with hot water from the tap and keep changing out the water and keep refilling with ever hotter water until you can use water that has been heated on the stove. This will allow the Usnea-filled canning jar to warm up slowly. Add some hot water every few minutes until you can cover the jar to above-the-jars-shoulder with hot water. Now let the Usnea macerate** (soak and warm up slowly) in the now warm-to-hot alcohol. Let it sit until the water has cooled naturally or at least 24 hours. When it is totally cool, remove the jar from the outer container. Check the tincture organoleptically for the strength of color, scent, and taste. Label this tincture bottle, with the plant used, date started and finished, and use. See also reference #2

*I  macerate/soak herbs in alcohol to create tinctures; I also percolate ‑ both maceration and percolation can be called tincturing, and this is also called extracting by some. Any use of external heat for maceration requires care with your equipment.

Macerate, Use a clean metal or porcelain pan; use the type of flowers/plants required for the odor wanted and that are carefully picked (fresh). Place in the hot alcohol or liquid fat or add to the fat or alcohol and allow to remain from twelve to forty-eight hours; fat has a particular affinity or attraction for the oil (scent) of flowers, and thus, as it were, draws it out of them, and becomes itself, by their aid, highly perfumed and alcohol has an affinity for the plant’s therapeutic values.

** Source: https://organicalcohol.com/



Lung abscess treatment by Ryan Drum 2000

1. Watch mucous for any changes by spitting onto white tissue or cloth.

2. Establish good nutrition and restful sleep.

3. Use the following herbs daily:

     a. Usnea :1 tablespoon of previously hot (120 degrees F) Usnea-infused oil in salad dressing for salads of fresh wild greens, dandelion, wild carrot, wild mustard, chickweed, and goldenrod tips.

• Herbal uses of Usnea ~ Dyes

Usnea species have been used to create orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple dyes for textiles. Usnea lichen was once used for silk and wool dyes. Some blue and purple hues are still obtained from the species of  Usnea.

•Combustible – Usnea barbata is highly flammable and often used as a firestarter when dry.



Usnea is very high in Vitamin C and is a carbohydrate. Before eating, Usnea should be soaked in several changes of water. Usnic acid can be very irritating to the digestive system. In the book, “Tanaina Plantlore,” Priscilla R. Kari states that the Inland Dena’ina Natives of Alaska sometimes eat Usnea as an emergency or camp food after boiling it in water.

DO NOT take for weight loss.  Modify what you eat and how to live, and exercise more and better.  Don’t rape the planet of its plants because you have bad habits.

• • •

a bottle of Usnea on a background of a lichen-covered tree

INTERESTING INFORMATION ABOUT LICHENS ~ And litmus and archil* are still obtained from species of lichens. Litmus is used in chemistry to determine if a solution is acid or basic and will turn blue when exposed to basic and red if exposed to an acid. Litmus paper is paper with litmus on it.

*Archil is a violet dye obtained from some lichens.

KEY USE ~ The oil of Perfumery.




1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0896844613000211?via%3Dihub

2. https://www.outdoorapothecary.com/usnea-tincture-recipe/

And Herbalist Stephen Buhner, the author of Herbal Antibiotics, says that Usnea tinctures best in a combination of water and alcohol (1:5 in 50%) and that a hot extraction method will yield better results (Buhner, 1999).


Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992

SOME CAUTIONS TO REMEMBER for all Plants and their Parts.

Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin, always perform a patch test on the inner arm (after diluting the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose band-aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas.—The Aromatherapy Book, Applications &  Inhalations, p. 64

DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that matters between you and your healthcare provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies  – Jeanne Rose©


Vetivert ~  An ambitious discussion of the grass Vetiver from the rootlets,  of the essential oil Vetivert, and its uses, growth, description, organoleptic qualities, and uses.

photo of a basket made of Vetiver rootlets and a bottle showing the dark color of the oil. Oil courtesy of PrimaFleur Botanicals

A Vetiver basket and Vetivert essential oil


Jeanne Rose

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL ~ Vetiver or Vetivert is Chrysopogon zizanioides. Vetiver is the plant, and Vetivert is the plant’s essential oil.

            VETIVER(T) NAME/NAMING INFORMATION ~ Chrysopogon zizanioides (Vetiveria zizanioides) is now under the unique denomination Chrysopogon zizanioides L. Roberty based on a similar analysis of related genera. However, the former term, Vetiveria zizanioides, is still widely used in the current literature.

            “Vetiver belongs to the same part of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugarcane, and lemongrass. Its old botanic name, Vetiveria zizanioides (Linn) Nash, has had a checkered history—at least 11 other names in 4 different genera have been employed in the past. The generic name comes from “vetiver,” a Tamil word meaning “root that is dug up.” The name zizanioides (often misspelled zizanoides) was first given by the great Swedish taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus in 1771. It means “by the riverside” and reflects that the plant is commonly found along waterways in India.” — https://www.nap.edu/read/2077/chapter/7

            Family ~  From the grass family Poaceae. The term Poaceae is derived from the Ancient Greek word for fodder.

            Essential Oil Plants of the Grass Family ~ Poaceae (Gramineae)

Chrysopogon zizanioides is commonly known as Vetiver, a bunch grass whose roots are used.

Cymbopogon citratus West Indian Lemongrass;

Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian Lemongrass

Cymbopogon martini var. motia is Palmarosa grass,

Cymbopogon martinii var. sofia is Gingergrass

Cymbopogon nardus is Citronella grass.

VETIVER COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ Haiti, Java, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Japan, La Réunion, and India for the Khus variety.

IS VETIVER ENDANGERED? ~ The plant does not seem to be endangered. However, there is fear that consumers will mistakenly order the fertile plant over the internet and introduce it to a place where it may overrun the indigenous plants.

The annual world trade in Vetivert oil is estimated to be approximately 250 tons, with Brazil, China, Haiti, India, Japan, Java, and Reunion being the primary producers. The main consumers are Europe, India, Japan, and the United States.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH ~ There are about 50 species of Chrysopogon, of which only one is used in aromatherapy and that species zizanioides has two main types, a fertile one and a sterile one. This is a perennial grass with very fragrant, long rhizomatous roots, growing to six feet high.

             “It is essential to realize that Vetiver comes in two types—this is a crucial point because only one is suitable for Use worldwide. If the wrong one is planted, it may spread and produce problems for farmers.

            A wild type from North India known as Khus or Vetiver. This is the original undomesticated species. It flowers regularly, sets fertile seeds, and is known as a “colonizer.” Its rooting tends to be shallow, especially in the damp ground it prefers. If loosed on the world, it might become a weed.

            A “domesticated” type from South India. This is the Vetiver that has existed under cultivation for centuries and is widely distributed throughout the tropics. It is probably a man-made selection from the wild type. It is nonflowering, does not seed (or at least is non-spreading), and must be replicated by vegetative propagation. It is the only safe type to use for erosion control.” — https://www.nap.edu/read/2077/chapter/7

            Vetiver can grow up to (5 ft.) high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall, and the leaves are long, thin, and relatively rigid. The flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver’s roots grow downward, 7 ft. to 13 ft. in depth.

Its southern cultivar is a densely tufted, perennial grass that is considered sterile outside its natural habitat. It flowers but sets no seeds. It is a lawn grass in the tropics; however, when eaten, the sharp calluses on the lemma, referring to a part of the spikelet of grasses (Poaceae), can pierce an animal’s stomach.       

            Vetiver is the best plant in the world to stop erosion and repair damaged land from erosion. Once permanent Vetiver rows are established, the roots should never be dug up. The aromatic roots have been used since ancient times in India. The fragrant, insect-repelling roots yield oil, which is valuable in the perfume industry. Traditionally, these roots were woven into mats, fans, and fragrant screens, while the tops of the grass were used for thatch, mulch, handicraft, fodder, and animal bedding.

Vetiver plant showing the long roots.


PORTION OF PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS, AND YIELDS for Vetiver ~ In Haiti, January and February is the high season for picking and distilling the Vetiver roots. The roots of Vetiver are picked, washed, comminuted (chopped), dried, and macerated (soaked) in the distillation water before being steam distilled. 

The quality of the oil depends on the age of the roots and the length of distillation which is from 12-36 hours. Maximum oil content is associated with freshly harvested roots, and the extractable oil decreased with delays in harvest and storage period.

            Yield ~ 0.5%.


  • Color …………………. Depending on the source, it is honey-colored to a caramel brown.
  • Clarity ………………… The lighter the color, the more it is clear, and the darker and semi-opaque.
  • Viscosity ……………. Viscous to very viscous and thick like molasses.
  • Intensity of odor …….… 4-6 (often the darker the color, the more intense the odor)

The guide to gauge the Intensity of odor ~ On a scale of 1-10, the stronger or more intense the odor, the higher the number. Lemon is low, and Peppermint is about 7-8. Vetivert is often not very intense and softens with Use in a perfume.

      •   Tenacity …………….  This essential oil is very tenacious in any type of blend or perfume.
        Taste ……………………. A burning, bitter, aromatic flavor, a smoky scent that rises the throat.

Various Vetivert Oil

3 bottles of Vetivert, from old-fashioned and fragrant dark color to modern low intensity amber color to a medium hue and scent.

ODOR DESCRIPTION/ AROMA ASSESSMENT ~ In general, the odor of this EO is very distinctive, yet when compared one with another, there are definite differences. The newer samples of Vetivert are lighter in color, and the lighter the color, the less intense and less complex the odor.

As you can see from the above illustration, the color varies from pale yellow to very dark brown. Color is removed from the oil because perfume makers do not like color in their perfume. I prefer the deeply rich, intense scent of the original Vetivert types with the rich dark color for my perfumery classes and personal perfumes.

            Vetivert, when double-distilled, has an earthy, green tenacious character with sweet wood quality. During re-distillation, a small fraction of the constituents is removed, thus removing some of the therapeutic quality, and other Vetivert oils are recommended when therapy is required.

            It has a persistent green-woody note and can be soft, woody-fruity when used with Patchouli, Sandalwood, and Jasmine.

CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~  There is great variety in the GC/MS of Vetivert. Still, I have seen Vetiverol up to 50%, Vetivol up to 10%, terpenes like Vetivene up to 20%, and phenols up to 11%, Furfural, and Sesquiterpenes.


GENERAL PROPERTIES of Vetivert Essential Oil

            When applied in a blend or lotion, Vetivert is a fixative in a perfume, a stimulant by application, an antiseptic, tonic, and soothing sedative. It is not taken internally; when inhaled, it is a quieting nerve tonic.

Application  Vetivert is used as a fixative in perfumery. When used in massage oil, it is suitable for circulation. It is used as an ingredient in lotions for aching joints, arthritis, or rheumatism.  It is a circulatory tonic, and it can alleviate some menstrual problems.  Specifically, it is said to promote alleviating cramping. 

            Application/ Skincare –   It is moisturizing and a humectant for dry skin.  So, it is used in skin care on dry, irritated, mature, or aging skin.  Vetivert EO is useful in lotions to assist in skin hydration; if used with Lemon oil, it will help to even out the color of the skin and, when used regularly, will help to reveal a smoother, better-looking complexion. The EO is useful in anti-aging creams and lotions, especially with Frankincense and Rosemary EO.

            Prima Fleur recently wrote in 2022 that “Vetivert (Chrysopogon zizanioides)  ~In skincare, vetiver is a moisturizing humectant for dry irritated (winter) skin and is found in cosmetics, soaps, and natural perfumes as a fixative. ~ And the essential oil derived from the root is the true treasure of this grass. The oil is used –  in massage and aromatherapy, the oil is most often used to help reconnect to earth energy and calm the central nervous system of one who feels “uprooted”

Exfoliation, a recipe for the skin – Exfoliation is like peeling the skin off an onion.  Dead cells are removed with scrubs, masks, or acid peels, revealing the younger, smoother layer of skin beneath. My favorite exfoliants are ground almonds, ground walnuts, ground oats, or a combination of these with hydrosols to hydrate and essential oils to treat. Essential oils such as Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Rose, and Vetivert should be gentle.

             I am particularly fond of ¼ cup ground Almonds with enough Roman Chamomile or Rose hydrosol to moisten and a drop of Vetivert. Mix together, apply to a clean moist face, and gently massage in with circular motions. Let it sit while you shower, and then gently rinse it off.

Pain Release Formula – Mix together 20 drops Grapefruit – white, + 10 drops Rosewood + 5 drops Vetivert. Shake vigorously and apply by massage to any painful spots on your body.


3 bottles of Vetivert, from old-fashioned and fragrant dark color to modern low intensity amber color to a medium hue and scent.

PERFUMERY ~ Vetiver grass roots contain essential oil and, used with other tropical odors, is considered a high-class perfume. Copper plate inscriptions have been found that list the perfume (probably as a maceration) as one of the substances used by royalty. Vetivert oil is one of the ingredients in Chanel No. 5. The famous French perfume was introduced in 1921 and is still in production. Vetivert oil is contained in 90% of all western perfumes, and its greatest Use is in modern perfume creations.

Depending on the country where used, this plant, when distilled, is used in perfumery and, if dried, used as potpourri and bug repellent.

Vetivert oil is estimated to be approximately 250 tons per year in world trade.

Vetivert Blends Best with citrus, florals, and woods.  Try it with Atlas Cedar, Oakmoss, or Sandalwood; spicey odors such as Frankincense,  Cinnamon, and Clove; herbal scents such as Clary Sage, Geranium; citrus odors like Grapefruit and Lemon; food odors like Chocolate or Coffee; resins like Galbanum and Elemi; florals such as Jasmine, Lavender, Rose, Ylang-ylang; and other rich, long-lived scents. 

            Blending Tips – Used primarily as a base note to give tenacity and a richly distinctive masculinity.

            Blending with formula ~ When making perfumes, always mix your oils together and then shake them via succussion (succussion – to fling up from below) to create a synergy.  Let them age.  Add more oil if needed.  Age again. Then add the carrier. Alcohol is not usually added to a Chypre-type scent.


Chypre #3 ~ Vetivert Perfume

Top Note – 8 drops Clary Sage flower
Heart Note – 3 drops Cypress berry + 3 drops Grapefruit peel + 2 drops Petitgrain leaf
Base Note – 4 drops Vetivert root + 2 drops Oakmoss
Fixative Note – 1 drop of Labdanum resin

Mix these essential oils together, and let them age for a few weeks. Smell and adjust ingredients if necessary. Dilute with more essential oil or alcohol and age again before using.

Diffuse/Diffusion – Vetivert can be diffused if you mix it with other essential oils, specifically those that are less viscous such as Lavenders or citrus odors. It makes a very warm, grounding odor that helps calm a household.

Emotional/Energetic Use – In folklore, Vetivert oil is used to increase financial abundance. In a more common ritual, inhaling the oil is said to protect the body from negative energies, including physical illness. Vetivert is employed in massage and aromatherapy for its grounding influence to calm the central nervous system.

            Emotional Uses include Inhalation: “The scent is calming and sedating, used for comforting and for people who feel ‘uprooted’ or without stability.  It affects the parathyroid glands” — 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 147.  It also alleviates stress, tension, and nervous tension.

            Vetivert is also a good grounding oil for those who focus on mental activities to the exclusion of the physical; the herb decoction is added to the bath for an exceptional stress-relieving soak, and the bath waters are inhaled.

Energetic Use includes some mention the use of Vetivert oil in blends for shock due to, for example, an accident, loss of employment, bereavement, separation, or divorce.

Ritual Formula – Send All Evil Away

Make a formula of 20 drops Rosewood + 10 drops Palmarosa + 3 drops Vetivert.

Mix it together and use by inhalation or add to 70 drops (2 ml +) of a carrier oil.

Apply to wrists with intention and inhale.

Critical Use: Oil of Depression and the immune system or Oil of Tranquility.

Small bundles of Vetiver rootlets with a bottle of medium-brown color essential oil of Vetivert.

Vetivert oil ~ courtesy and Prima Fleur

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Vetivert EO Tomato Tales & Jeanne Rose’s experience

I collected the oil of this plant for 30 years from various company lists. I didn’t like the odor, so I kept the oil and let it age on my shelves. This is one of the major essential oils that can age gracefully for many years. I have stock from 1983 and after. I have stock from a company now long gone that had added synthetics. Why this was the case, I do not know, as it is a relatively inexpensive essential oil.

For all these years, I was not that fond of Vetivert essential oil, although I loved the fans and fragrant baskets made with the roots. I tried to like the scent but was not successful using it in perfumes or blends. It took my friend, Marianne Griffeth, of Prima Fleur Botanicals, to teach me to love it via her ability to make successful and fragrant blends using Vetivert. Her combinations were always warm and delicious smelling ~ she talked about it so much that I began to try to use Vetivert oil. I have been getting better and better and am now genuinely loving the scent. I love the deep, dark Vetivert I get from Prima Fleur Botanicals, although I also use the less intense oils I have obtained from others.

Recently, in 2020, I took 1 tablespoon of plain, unscented cleansing cream and added 1 drop of Vetivert oil and massaged my clean face, and then let it sit for a few hours before I washed it off with warm water. This was a pleasant experience, and my face looked dewy and soft.

A basket made of the rootlets of Vetiver.

Vetiver roots made into a basket.

HERBAL USES: Varieties of this plant are grown throughout the tropics and used to thatch roofs or as a terracing plant. The roots of this grass acquire a soft, almost sandalwood-like odor when dried.  If these plants are kept moist and laid about the house, they help to keep bugs and moths out. And these dried roots are one of the best fixatives for dry potpourri as they blend well with the Rose scent. These roots can be used in bath herbs, powdered for sachet, or drunk as a tonic or stimulant tea. — Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose’s Herbal, p. 112.

            Sometimes the roots are cleaned and used for brushes, window screens (when wetted, they will cool the house as the wind blows through), fans, mats, and baskets, and the chemical constituents of zizanol and epizizanol are insect repellents.

            Potpourris and Sachets are usually made of three main ingredients: (not EO) the main plant for its scent and color, the essential scent, the blender plant scent, and the fixative plant scent, which are usually resins and base notes. Remember that Potpourri ingredients are generally left in whole form so that the form of the plants is still identifiable (with fixative ingredients in powder form), while Sachet ingredients are all comminuted and/or powdered form.

            Scent your basic herbs and resins with their own essential oil and age them before using them in the final construction.

HYDROSOL ~ To date, I have not had the opportunity to try a Vetiver hydrosol.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components; most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

HISTORICAL USES ~  Historically used in perfumery while the herb is woven or used in mats to fragrance the air.

Interesting Information: One type is called Khus-Khus.  The roots are used to make fragrant fans and screens, which give off a refreshing, clean scent when dampened.  “The roots are interwoven with flower matting, window coverings, etc., giving rooms a fragrance and deterring insects.  The oil is used in chypre (green, earthy) and oriental-type perfumes, soaps, toiletries, etc.  Growing the plant protects against soil erosion” essential aromatherapy, p. 170.     

Photo of plant, flower, and bundled rootlets.

Key Use: Depression and the immune system. Oil of Tranquility.

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.

• • •

References & Bibliography ~ If you want the references, please comment here with your e-mail address and I will send them to you.

Vetiver being harvested in China


 Labdanum and Cistus are not the same, but they come from the same plant, and both have an important use in perfumery – both with a luscious fragrant, rich scent. This profile provides a detailed description of growth, description, chemistry, odor, and uses.

CISTUS/Labdanum Resin & E.O./Hydrosol Profile

By Jeanne Rose ~ January 2023

A photo of Cistus leaves with a bottle of Cistus essential oil superimposed on the leaves.

CISTUS LADANIFER – TThe Plant That Produces Cistus Oil And Labdanum Resin

CISTUS ~  This plain plant, with its wondrous resin and fragrant oil, has been one of my favorites since I first learned of it back in 1969. I knew of Cistus as a plant growing in the San Francisco Arboretum. However, here in San Francisco, it has very little odor as it doesn’t get hot enough. One day, some time ago, in June, when it was clear, sunny, and very hot, I rubbed the leaves, which were sticky and fragrant. That is when I began to study it in my antiquarian herbals, including Dioscorides, which I had acquired in 1970. How can anyone ignore a plant once harvested from the wool of goats?

COMMON NAME/LATIN BINOMIAL OF CISTUS and LABDANUM are two products of the  Cistus ladanifer (syn. ladaniferous)plant, also called Rockrose. Cistus is the essential oil distilled from the leaves and twigs and the resin called Labdanum that is scraped from the leaves. Cistus species used for Cistus E.O. and Labdanum resin include Cistus creticus and the subspecies incanus).

            Family ~ Cistaceae is a family of perennial shrubs and flowering plants found on dry and rocky soil with about 20 species.

            Other Common Name/Naming Information: Cistus is from the Greek and simply means Rock rose because they frequent rocky places, and this is a  common name that is given to several other species of plants as well. The typical Greek word is simply ladan. Cistus ladanifer is also called the gum Rockrose, and the resin is called Labdanum.

          NAMING MISINFORMATION ~ Some people misspell and misuse the word laudanum for Labdanum. Laudanum (a ‘u’ not a ‘b’) is a tincture of opium containing approximately 10% powdered opium by weight (the equivalent of 1% morphine). It is reddish-brown and extremely bitter. Labdanum (with a ‘b’ not a ‘u’) is the resin from the plant Cistus.   

COUNTRIES OF ORIGINS ~ Portugal, Morocco, Spain, and the Canary Islands.

            Harvest Location ~ Spain, and my Cistus hydrosol is from Portugal.

ENDANGERED OR NOT ~ It is on the list of threatened plants. These plants are considered to be threatened and/or endangered due to heavy usage, people moving into the areas where they live, and over-tapping.

SUSTAINABILITY ~  These items may not be sustainable in the amounts used.

Cistus leaves and flowers

GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT HABITAT AND GROWTH: Cistus ladanifer is an evergreen shrub and grows quickly to a height of about 5 feet and 3+ feet wide. They are heat-loving (thermophilous plants) and require open sunny places. Its flowers are in June, and though they have both male and female parts, they are incompatible. Some books suggest that it is self-fertile. The plant is bee-pollinated. The flowers are white or pink with a simple structure. Cistus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some butterfly species. The petals are papery and crumpled, most commonly pure white, with numerous bright yellow stamens in the center, and there is also a form that has a dark purple or crimson blotch at the base of each petal. The leaves are elongated and covered with glandular trichomes that secrete a viscous gummy balsam that exudes when it is hot. Because of the content of pinene in the resin, the plant is quite flammable, possibly can self-ignite, and is responsible for some severe fires. Spain is a leading producer of Cistus and Labdanum.


Cistus ladanifer is the essential oil distilled from the leaves and twigs of the same plant that produces Labdanum from the resin. Cistus #267, organically grown and wild from Cistus ladanifer, is steam distilled from the leaf in Spain.

Yield: Results are discussed from 0.1% to 0.3%.

”            Labdanum resin is obtained by collecting and boiling the twigs in the spring and early summer, skimming off the resin as it comes to the surface.”Labdanum Absolute is obtained by solvent extraction of the resin – and is very different in scent, color, and viscosity from steam-distilled Cistus essential oil from the leaves.”            Labdanum resin is obtained by collecting and boiling the twigs in the spring and early summer, skimming off the resin as it comes to the surface.Labdanum Absolute is obtained by solvent extraction of the resin – and is very different in scent, color and viscosity from steam distilled Cistus essential oil from the leaves.”


A chart of the Cistus and Labdanum resin organoleptics

            Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment: Cistus E.O. has a distinctively warm, fruity-floral scent, a rich herbaceous scent, with notes of a leather-hay odor that is intense but less tenacious than Labdanum and is used with Lavender in spicy men’s products.

            Labdanum has a rich, tenacious, but not intense odor of sweetness,  smoky-woody, leather, powder, and earthy-moss, with back notes of honey, warm animals, and floral with fruity overtones.

I love these two odors and find them extraordinarily useful in many perfume applications. The Labdanum recalls the odor of ambergris and is used as a vegetable substitute for ambergris in a perfume base note or as a fixative. The aroma is tenacious in a blend but not intense; it lends a subtle richness to any perfume you use it in. (See page 97 of 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols for other vegetable substitutes for the animal fixatives).

CHEMISTRY OF CISTUS (Rockrose) ~  The essential oil of Rockrose was characterized by a high content of 1,8-cineole (19.27%) and viridiflorol (16.38%), while the predominant compounds in Montpellier cistus essential oil were 1,8-cineole (9.17%), bornyl acetate (9.14%) and α-pinene (5.84%).5

           Chemical Components of Labdanum ~ “The main components were α‐pinene (39%), viridiflorol (11.8%), ledol (3.3%), and bornyl acetate (3.1%). ….Two samples exhibited a different chemical composition, not as yet described, characterized by the predominance of viridiflorol (20–22.6%), ledol (6.4–6.7%), and trans‐pinocarveol (5.4–8.6%).” © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. — Composition of the Essential Oil of Cistus ladanifer L. Cultivated in Corsica (France) by J. P. Mariotti, F. Tomi, J. Casanova, J. Costa, A. F. Bernardini, First published: 28 April 1999

Leaves and flowers of Cistus with a bottle of Cistus  essential oil



            Cistus essential oil distilled from the leaves and twigs is considered a wound healer, and as with most essential oils, it has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Inhale the oil to boost the immune system and reduce colds and infections resulting from the flu. Cistus is considered antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-arthritic.

            Labdanum is the sticky brown resin obtained from the shrubs of Cistus ladanifer (western Mediterranean) and Cistus creticus (eastern Mediterranean), species of Rockrose.

CISTUS APPLICATION/SKINCARE USES ~ Cistus EO and tea of the leaves have great application in skin care, particularly oily skin, acne skin, and irritated skin. Use the EO in your lotions, other creams, and clay masks using white clay. It is used for mature skin, wrinkles, and the EO as an inhalant for coughs and bronchitis.

Cistus Anti-Wrinkle Lotion,

a recipe by Jeanne Rose

            I like to purchase an 8-oz bottle of pre-made unscented lotion with organically grown ingredients and then add my own unique additions. If the lotion is thick, I will thin it with some Rosemary or Cistus hydrosol until it is the texture I like. Then I add 5 drops of Cistus E.O. to an ounce of my thinned lotion. I add the drops, and with a long narrow thin wooden spoon, I stir in the E.O., stirring around and around, up and down, figure 8 round and round. This is a singsong that I do until the E.O. and hydrosol is thoroughly incorporated into the lotion. I only make an ounce at a time as it is easy to do and keeps the balance of the lotion fresh to make something else with. I apply this Cistus Lotion alternately with the Elemi/Galbanum Lotion every evening before bed.


• • •

EMOTIONAL/ENERGETIC USES ~ I have never found Cistus essential oil to have much emotional effect, and it has rarely been mentioned in my past classes. However, Labdanum is used by inhalation and is considered to have a powerful ability to bring up past lives and past or buried memories. It is conducive to ritual work.

Diffuse/Diffusion ~ You can add Cistus E.O. to a blend for a diffuser for the fresh sharp scent. It will give a room. However, do not diffuse Labdanum, as it is a sticky resin, and even the steam-distilled product can gum up your diffusor. I suggest you learn to use this substance in other ways and use the Labdanum and the Cistus essential oil in your perfumes.

 “HYDROSOL USES ~ Cistus hydrosol is available and just an excellent product to use. It is bright and fresh and cleansing to the skin. I get mine from “Naturalness” in Portugal, which is available through them. This excellent product is harvested using the stems and the leaves and steam-distillation.  

                Use it as a spray after putting on make-up to set it, or on your clothes that have been crushed in a suitcase to freshen them, or on the pillows before sleep. I am particularly fond of Cistus hydrosol.

            The distiller recommends Cistus hydrosol as a powerful but gentle astringent. It is used as a daily toner for highly oily, acne-prone, or irritated skin. Only use a 20% solution with other hydrosols or distilled water for dry skin.

A bottle of Cistus hydrosol

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under short pressurized steam runs for essential oil or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers precisely distill a product by using fresh plant material.


HERBAL USES ~ “The use of the Cistus incanus has a long history and can be traced back to the 4th century B.C. In the Middle East, northern Africa, and the European Mediterranean region, the Cistus incanus was enjoyed as a wellness tea for breakfast and right throughout the day as a drink for relaxing after a strenuous day. When guests arrived, offering a freshly boiled pot of Cistus tea was common. “The knowledge of the benefits of this tea were passed on late into the Middle Ages.3

                  Properties and Uses of the Herb ~ Cistus leaf tea is helpful for children’s illnesses such as whooping cough and for adults for general all-over body inflammation.

            Cistus tea is used as a treatment for Lyme Disease. The study’s conclusion showed that to date, clinical work with wild-harvested pure Sardinian Cistus tea and whole-leaf Stevia is the least invasive yet most effective treatment for Lyme disease and many other chronic chronic chronic illnesses caused by persistent and hidden infections.

            See the entire article at https://kiscience.com/sardinian-cistus-incanus/.



A Personal Story of Labdanum

            Labdanum resin/resinoid/absolute/E.O. is a favorite of mine, and when I teach Perfumery classes, I encourage the students to use my absolute which dates back to 1969. We make an old perfume called Chypre in class. See formulas in my Natural Perfumery booklet.

‘            Years ago, about 1970, I made a mixture of Labdanum resin that I had read in a 400-year-old herbal that also used Benzoin and Storax with Civet, spike Lavender, and spices. It was to be inhaled to’‘comforte the brain.’ It looked exciting and certainly doable, and whose brain does not need a certain amount of comforting. I found it was like playing with mud and very messy. I wrote about this in my first book, Herbs & Things, and if you want to try it, there are two recipes on pages 153-154.’            Years ago, about 1970, I made a mixture of Labdanum resin that I had read in a 400-year-old herbal that also used Benzoin and Storax with Civet, spike Lavender, and spices. It was to be inhaled to ‘comforte the brain.’ It looked exciting and certainly doable, and whose brain does not need a certain amount of comforting. I found it was like playing with mud and very messy. I wrote about this in my first book, Herbs & Things, and if you want to try it, there are two recipes on pages 153-154.

‘            These raw resins can stick almost permanently to everything. If you make it ““keep one mortar and pestle aside just for this type of recipe or any recipe that calls for the heating or’‘beating’ of a resin. It was nearly impossible to roll the combination into a ball, especially with the stinky civet, so I finally dipped my hands into the powdered Benzoin and Storax (sort of like dipping your hands into flour to roll out bread or cookie dough) and rolled the resin around. This gooey mess stuck tenaciously to my hands, and it took two days to wash it all off, but at least now I had a ball of resin. I then pierced the ball with a bodkin (big blunt needle with a big eye) and hung it from a string.’            These raw resins can stick almost permanently to everything. If you make it …  “keep one mortar and pestle aside just for this type of recipe or any recipe that calls for the heating or ‘beating’ of a resin. It was nearly impossible to roll the combination into a ball, especially with the stinky civet, so I finally dipped my hands into the powdered Benzoin and Storax (sort of like dipping your hands into flour to roll out bread or cookie dough) and rolled the resin around. This gooey mess stuck tenaciously to my hands, and it took two days to wash it all off, but at least now I had a ball of resin. I then pierced the ball with a bodkin (big blunt needle with a big eye) and hung it from a string.

            It immediately oozed away from the string, plopped to the ground, and proceeded to ooze amoebically about the floor, peeling up paint as it went. It was then that I finally realized the exact nature of this pomander. It was and is ever flowing and takes on the shape of whatever object it is on or in. I captured the now pancake-shaped resin, rolled more Storax into it, and put it on the ledge above a window. Within a day, it had migrated off the shelf and down the wall. It smelled deliciously but it left a trail of black resin (rather like the slime trail of a snail). Again, I captured it, and this time rolled it up and stuck it in the freezer to freeze. After thinking about it for some time, I let it out of the freezer and put it immediately into a small black leather bag. We call it the Mental-Health Bag. The more you massage the bag, the more it smells,  the better you feel, and the more powerful and tranquilizing its effect on the brain.” 1Herbs & Things.

A photo of a black leather bag holding a formula of Labdanum + other substances.

And I still have this fragrant Bag of Mental Health creeping around after 53 years.


HISTORY ~ The Cistus plant has been known since ancient times and is described by Dioscorides, Herodotus, and Pliny. Dioscorides says, “Now, that which we call Ladanum, is made of this plant. For the Hee goats, & shee goates, feeding on the leaues hereof, doe manifestly beare away the fatnesse of them on their beards and on their thighs, because it is of a viscous nature, which taken off thence they straine, & hauing fashioned them into little balls, lay them vp in store.” 4

‘            In ancient times, labdanum gum was collected in Crete in two ways:”“Pliny says that the gum was harvested by combing the coats of goats that grazed in the cistus-covered hillsides, and later it was collected by thrashing the branches of the cistus plants with a leather strap and then scraping that strap with a knife. Cistus’’ glutinous properties made these forms of harvesting possible. Today, most cistus production takes place in Spain, where the leafy branches are collected using a sickle before being processed” ”2  But this may be where its history of being ‘‘leather scented’ comes from.’            In ancient times, labdanum gum was collected in Crete in two ways: “Pliny says that the gum was harvested by combing the coats of goats that grazed in the cistus-covered hillsides, and later it was collected by thrashing the branches of the cistus plants with a leather strap and then scraping that strap with a knife. Cistus’ glutinous properties made these forms of harvesting possible. Today, most cistus production takes place in Spain, where the leafy branches are collected using a sickle before being processed.”2  But this may be where its history of being ‘leather scented’ comes from.

““In ancient Egypt, the false goat-hair beards of the pharaohs were impregnated with Labdanum to surround these men with an impressive aura of distinction. The Cypriotes mixed Labdanum with Styrax and Calamus oil, creating an early masterpiece of perfumery. When they conquered the island, the Crusaders became so enthusiastic about the fragrance that they brought the recipe to the rest of Europe. Known as the’‘Chypre’-theme, it is still employed in modern perfumery.”“In ancient Egypt, the false goat-hair beards of the pharaohs were impregnated with Labdanum to surround these men with an impressive aura of distinction. The Cypriotes mixed Labdanum with Styrax and Calamus oil, creating an early masterpiece of perfumery. When they conquered the island, the Crusaders became so enthusiastic about the fragrance that they brought the recipe to the rest of Europe. Known as the ‘Chypre’-theme, it is still employed in modern perfumery.”

            Cistus creticus has a subspecies, C. incanus, and is thought to be the ‘myrrh’ of Genesis. Both resins are obtained by boiling twigs and skimming the resin from the water’s surface. —Mabberly.


Jeanne Rose collection  of Cistus and Labdanum from 1972 to the present of 2023

Jeanne Rose collection of Cistus & Labdanum from 1972 to the present


CISTUS AND LABDANUM are used in Natural Perfumery. Cistus E.O. is considerably easier to use than the resinous  Labdanum. Try substituting it for Elemi, Rosemary, Myrrh, or any other sharp-scented essential oil harvested in the Mediterranean area, such as Lavender or Myrtle.

            BLENDING ~ Various types of essential oil are produced by the steam-distillation of the leaves and twigs. They are usually called Cistus E.O. Cistus blends best with  Labdanum abs, citrus oils such as Bergamot, floral oils, rich deep Oakmoss, and base earthy oils such as Vetivert.

Labdanum, the concrete is alcohol extracted to obtain the absolute, a semi-solid soft and sticky green-colored substance. It must be diluted in (grape spirits) alcohol to be used. The scent is balsam, herbal and spicy resin, warm and rich. Works well with citrus, Lavender bases, green and conifer scents. Labdanum 50•50  is Labdanum diluted 50% with neutral spirits.


Galbanum & Labdanum/Cistus Base Accord

  1. Dilute Galbanum and Labdanum individually 50•50 with neutral grape spirits.

2. Let the above age and meld for a week.

3. Take 12 drops of Galbanum (50•50) and 12 drops of (50•50) Labdanum, add 12 drops of Cistus and mix them together. Age it for 1 week. Smell and experience.

4.   After it ages, you can add an equal amount of grape spirits to make a 25% pure scent base. Give it a name that you will remember.


A Simple Chypre Perfume is made as follows: Mix together 5 drops of Bergamot + 5 drops White Grapefruit + 5 drops of Clary Sage with sclareol + 5 drops of Cistus, mix this together using succession, and as a bridge, add  1 drop of Oakmoss dissolved in several drops of alcohol; for your heart note add  5 drops of Patchouli + 2 drops of Rose + 1 drop of Neroli, mix this using succussion; and then add the base note of 3 drops of Labdanum (pre-diluted in high-proof alcohol + 3 drops Atlas Cedarwood.

            The total equals 30-35 drops. Succuss. Age this for at least 2 weeks (maybe more), then add 90 drops of 95% neutral grape spirits (alcohol) and age again for 3 weeks before you decide to do or not do anything else.

            Equals 4 ml of finished scent at 25% perfume ingredients by volume. This is one of my favorite perfumes and odors – but remember, start with the best quality ingredients to get the best scent in a perfume.

INTERESTING INFORMATION: The Ladanesterion or ladanesterion is a tool made of leather leads used to comb out the Labdanum from the Cistus plant. It was described by Pedanios Dioscorides in the 1st century A.C. It was also described by the French botanist Joseph Pitton de Tournefort in his travel to Crete in 1700. The tool today has been replaced with plastic.

The ladanesterion comb, combing the Labdanum resin, and a rounded piece of gummy resin of Labdanum

KEY USE: The Oil of Perfumery

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.


1Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. Only available from jeannerose.net with coil binding.



4 Greek Herbal of Dioscorides. Hafner Publishing Company. 1933 from the great work of the first century A.D.

5 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10412905.2011.9700439

Arctander, Steffen. Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin. Elizabeth, NJ. 1960

Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Volume VI. Reprint 1972.

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose .2015 edition. San Francisco, California


Langenheim, Jean H. Plant Resins. Timber Press. 2003

Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.

Pliny. Plinie’s Natural History. My copy is dated 1601.

Poucher, William A. Perfumes and Cosmetics. Van Nostrand Company. 1923

Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. North Atlantic Books. 2000

Rose, Jeanne. Natural Botanical Perfumery. JeanneRose.com. 2002

Cautions  Using plants and their parts

Scent rising  up from a bottle



Essential oil OF Spearmint, courtesy of Prima Fleur Botanicals. Fig. 1

SPEARMINT PROFILE this is not Peppermint

By Jeanne Rose

There is a difference between Spearmint and Peppermint, defined by their chemistry, botany, folklore, odor description, and properties. The uses of Spearmint are described.


It is called Spearmint, and it is not Peppermint or Menthol-mint. There are 13 species of the Mentha genus. The ones with the ‘X’ are made by humans by crossing one plant species with another; they are considered sterile and usually do not produce seed. They are duplicated by cloning or by replanting the underground stems. In this post, we will discuss Spearmint.

Mentha aquatica L. – water mint

Mentha arvensis L. – wild mint, field-mint, or Japanese menthol mint

Mentha x piperita – Peppermint [aquatica x spicata]

Mentha spicata L. – spearmint (the mint of the ancients)

Mentha suaveolens Ehrh. – apple mint

Spearmint Common Name/Latin Binomial ~ Spearmint, Mentha spicata. Sometimes known as garden mint, common mint, lamb mint, and mackerel mint, … including Mentha crispa, Mentha crispata, and Mentha viridis.

            Botanical Family ~ Lamiaceae

            Naming Information ~ The genus name comes from Minthe or Menthe, a water nymph in Greek mythology. And from a legend of the beginning of the Earth,  “…When Man came, he saw the plants and remembered some of his past in the wonderful Kingdom, he smelled the wonderful scents, and saw pictures in his Mind. So, whenever man was asked the name of the fragrant plants, he called them mint.” —Kitchen Cosmetics, p. 78

COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN ~ Native to the Mediterranean.

SPEARMINT GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF PLANT ~ Spearmint is a very hardy, perennial herb with bright green, fragrant leaves that sets seeds. As it grows, it can quickly exhaust the soil of nutrients and should be replanted regularly via underground or over-ground stems or roots. Many Mints behave in this manner.

                 This species can readily hybridize with other Mentha species to form hybrids. This mint LOOKS different than either Peppermint or Lemon Balm. The green is softer in Spearmint than the bluish Peppermint, and it looks somewhat like Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)  but is not as hairy on the leaves. The smell is eponymously Spearmint, with none of the menthol odor that characterizes Peppermint and little of the lemon scent of Lemon Balm. There are several cultivars.

Two photos showing the difference between Spearmint and Lemon Balm.

Fig. 2

PORTION OF SPEARMINT PLANT USED IN DISTILLATION, HOW DISTILLED, EXTRACTION METHODS & YIELD ~ Spearmint’s over-ground tops and flowers are harvested just prior to its bloom; after blooming, the oil content in the plant decreases. The plants are cut and allowed to dry on the ground for 2 or more days until ‘clover dry,’ that is,  still flexible and NOT brittle. They are taken to the various distilleries, packed into the still, moistened by the steam, sealed in,  and then steam distilled.

            In Egypt, “There are two chemotypes of Spearmint dependent upon where they are grown. One had both good carvone and limonene and a better yield (grown in Siwa Oasis), while the other analyzed from Cairo had less quantity oil but a higher percentage of carvone.”8  

            Yield ~ The over-ground plant is steam distilled. “3,000 lbs. charge requires up to 30-50 minutes and produces over 20 pounds of oil” 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 142. One acre of Spearmint may yield 35-40 lbs. of oil.5

Spearmint close-up with a budding flower top.

Spearmint & flower – photo by Jeanne RoseFig. 3

            CO2 Extraction – …… Essential oil compositions and attainable yields were nearly the same as those by steam distillation when single pass mode of CO2 … was used for oil recovery…. The flavor and fragrance of the carbon dioxide mint extracts were closest in quality to actual mint plant leaves, compared to mint oils produced by conventional steam distillation.1


            Color:                          Pale, celery-like green; some have a pinkish quality, and some oils are golden yellow

            Clarity:                         Clear

            Viscosity:                    Non-viscous, like water

            Taste:                          Yummy, refreshing, delightful, and delicately spearminty.

            Intensity of Odor:       A fresh 5

            Tenacity in blend:        6

Jeanne Rose enjoying the odor of Spearmint.

Spearmint  oil courtesy of Prima Fleur Fig. 4

            ODOR DESCRIPTION ~ Spearmint and Caraway have the same chemical component of scent, carvone, but a different mirror-image isomer. Spearmint has a fresh, green, and minty odor, while Caraway has a fresh, herbal, and green but spicy odor.

An easy experiment is to mix equal parts of each of these essential oils and then pass the bottle around to students and have them guess what they are smelling. Because they both contain the same molecule, carvone, but a different isomer of it, you will have guesses equally on both sides of the scent, and some people will be totally unable to figure it out. After smelling both, you will be able to isolate and identify the scent of each plant, but when mixed together, it becomes more difficult. This is a wonderful exercise for an aromatherapy class.


CHEMICAL COMPONENTS ~ You will find numerous people and websites stating that Spearmint has menthol. Spearmint does not contain menthol unless it is a specifically bred or a hybrid variety that has been bred specifically for this. Since Spearmint is used to modify the scent and flavor of Peppermint, this may be where the mix-up in the plant began with people. I have only seen one paper out of 25 that listed menthol as a component via GC/MS in Spearmint (Mentha spicata), which was at 1.88% of the total. This paper was confusing and co-listed Peppermint and Spearmint together.

            Spearmint does contain up to 56% l-Carvone, Terpenes, Limonene, Phellandrenes, and, sometimes, Linaloöl and Cineol.

A chart showing the difference in the carvone chemistry of caraway and spearmint.

Carvone chemistry in Caraway and SpearmintFig. 5

            As described above in Spearmint, the main components are carvone for the scent and limonene, myrcene, and others. It is possible to distinguish by taste and odor between the dextro- and laevo-rotatory forms of carvone; dextro-carvone in Caraway seed oil and laevo-rotatory carvone in Spearmint herb oil.


HISTORICAL USES ~ The herb tea has been widely used as a tonic drink almost everywhere it has been introduced.

            The following refers to Spearmint or wild Mint, not Peppermint. In the first century A.D., the naturalist Pliny wrote, “The smell of mint (Spearmint) stirs up the mind and appetite to a greedy desire of food.”3 (Plinie’s Natural History First Century AD. Translated by Philemon Holland.). He recommended binding the head in a crown of mint, which delights the soul and is good for the mind. Pliny, along with Hippocrates and Aristotle, judged it ‘contrary to procreation,’ while the Greeks were of the opposite opinion: forbade their soldiers to eat (Spear)mint because it incites a man to love, diminishing his courage. It was found that the Greeks, not Pliny, have been shown to be correct.

INTERESTING FACTS ~ Spearmint tea is poured after every meal in Egypt. One of the more exciting properties mentioned for Spearmint tea is that that could help treat mild hirsutism (hairiness) in women.10 Drink up to 5 cups/day.10 Maybe this is one of the reasons it is so enjoyed as a tea.

            The oil extracted from Native Spearmint is used in Michigan and is considered highly concentrated. One pound will flavor 135,000 sticks of gum. Chewing gum companies regularly blend Spearmint and Peppermint oils to maintain a consistent and specific flavor. An advantage to growing mint is farmers may store the oil for several years if market prices fall.9



SPEARMINT is an anti-inflammatory, calming, mucolytic, antioxidant, and tonic for the digestive system. When inhaled, it has a wonderful ability to create a feeling of joy and happiness and therefore makes an excellent addition to stress relief blends. It is also packed with antioxidants and is good for digestion has been said to have anti-fungal properties, as well as the properties indicated for all sorts of respiratory problems and chronic bronchitis.4                                        


APPLICATION — The essential oil is used in many body-care products for soothing the skin, treating acne, and relieving skin irritations. This is a beautiful herb to use in any bath herb, and the essential oil can be added to the skin lotion or skincare product. It is so refreshing and healing. The herb and the essential oil are excellent additions to products, blends, and foods. Please read Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book for great information and formulas.

INGESTION — Digestive ailments. Nausea. Vomiting. Gums. Candies. Dental products.

            •The herb tea is taken for digestive disturbances and is lightly fever-reducing.

            •Chewing gum ~ Of all the flavors incorporated into chewing gum, Spearmint and combination mint flavors have been some of the most popular. Most widely used have been Peppermint and Spearmint, as well as blends of the two in the form of their essential oils. Oil of Spearmint is derived from the distillation of several varieties of this genus. The principal species and varieties are Mentha spicata L. and Mentha verticillata, and Mentha cardiaca. —part of a patent application filed in 1989 and 2020-03-28. Application status is Expired – Lifetime

Spearmint – 1 cup 2x/day women with hirsutism had less free testosterone in the blood. Drink up to 5 cups/day to help this problem. Some say it also increases breast size.

INHALATION — Spearmint can be added to any blend for respiratory ailments and chronic bronchitis. It has a relaxing and happy odor.   When diffusedSpearmint oil can be added to almost any blend where you want the scent of refreshment and joy. Try it. It will make you feel joyous.

EMOTIONAL USES (AP OR IN)— Spearmint is applied to the temples for headaches; it can be inhaled as a memoristic antidepressant, alleviates mental strain and fatigue, and acting as a tonic for the entire system. 

            •Calming Spearmint E.O. is used by inhalation, and blends can include Bergamot, most citrus fruit oils, Cumin, Eucalyptus citriodora, Lavender, Marjoram, Spearmint (calming and joyous), and their comparable hydrosols used as spray mists.

            •Emotional/Energetic Use – Uplifting. Reduces nervous stress and tension. Ylang Ylang Extra with a touch of Spearmint is a delicious scent to inhale for headaches or to soothe your depression. Dilute with a carrier oil or alcohol and put it into a small bottle to carry around and inhale whenever.

            Scott Cunningham, in his book, Magical Aromatherapy, suggests that Spearmint is an element of Air and whose magical influences are Healing, protection, and promoting sleep when inhaled; it helps one with visualization to speed healing;  wrap the fresh sprigs in a bag and inhale the bag as you fall asleep, visualizing that it is wrapping you in protective energy.

Spearmint plant with a bizarre growth pattern in the stem.

Jeanne Rose bizarre growth on Spearmint – Fig. 6


Medicinal uses ~ Herb Spearmint has been used extensively for its medicinal properties for over 3000 years. It can be used internally as a tea, to make poultices or balms, or inhaled to make use of joyful quality. Spearmint’s medicinal properties include stomachic, stimulant, calmative, disinfectant, and nervine. The following afflictions are treated with Spearmint herb and/or essential oil:

            •Colds The Flathead and Kutenai Indian tribes drank native wild mint or Spearmint teas to treat both the coughs and fevers associated with colds.

            •Digestive Ailments –  An overall aid to most digestive disorders, it is especially beneficial in treating flatulence, diarrhea, colic, retching, and vomiting. A poultice of Spearmint leaves over the stomach region also helps to aid in digestive distress. Spearmint tea also helps to promote appetite.

            •Female afflictions-  Spearmint can be used to treat menstrual cramps. In Near Eastern societies, it helps to increase sexual desire, suppressed menstruation, … and helps to relieve the breast of curdled or congested milk via compress. Spearmint tea reduces hirsutism in women.10

             •Heart Ailments – The Blackfeet Indians and other tribes chewed wild Spearmint leaves to treat chest pains and strengthen heart muscles.

            •Nervous System-  All Spearmint teas have a soothing quality and are used to treat nervousness, fatigue, nausea, vertigo, hiccoughs, palpitations, anger, confusion, depression, and mental strain.

            •Rashes – Spearmint oil can be rubbed on poison ivy rash, diaper rash, and athlete’s foot.

            •Toothache   A drop of Spearmint essential oil can be used directly on the source of pain to help alleviate the pain from both cavities and gum disease.



            In the early days of keeping records of all the essential oils I used, I also kept an emotion chart that I used with my students to get their favorite scents for specific emotions. This was in 1972, and I called the chart “Scent & Psyche: Experience Aroma.” I had a paper file of dozens of these charts from all my previous classes and had included the information in a book that I had written called “Aromatherapy – Inhalations for the Mind.” You have never heard of that book, and that is not a surprise as I took the written prototype with me when I  went to New York in 1975 to speak before the “Fragrance Foundation” and lost it along with my suitcase at the airport and all my lecture notes as well on the way to the Plaza Hotel where I would be staying. It was a devastating loss to me not only because I lost my lecture notes but also because it was the only draft of the book that I was delivering to the publisher. This book was once written, was not rewritten but eventually evolved into “The Aromatherapy Book –  Applications & Inhalations.”

            One thing I learned from the collection of these charts is that my American students always said that Spearmint made them happy, that it smelled like their childhood, and that it smelled like chewing gum, but my Asian students thought it smelled like cleaning fluids. Scents have power and cultural differences depending upon where you grew up and where you experienced them.

            Europeans also do not have the same ‘feelings’ about Spearmint as Americans do, even though Spearmint is indigenous to  Europe and Asia and then became naturalized in North America, where it became a favorite.

BLENDING AND PERFUMERY ~ Spearmint has a bright and joyous scent and can perk up any heavy perfume on the floral bouquet. It mixes well with Ylang-Ylang. You just need a bit. Start with 10 drops of Ylang Extra and 1 drop of Spearmint. Smell it. Then add either more of the floral or green herbal scent, depending on what pleases you. Remember that Spearmint contains carvone and not menthol and has an herbaceous and green note.

            Spearmint blends with the herbs such as Basil, Lavender, Marjoram, and Rosemary; it combines with spices such as Black or green Pepper, Ginger; with florals such as Jasmine and  Ylang-Ylang and with many citrus scents like Grapefruit and Lemon. These all can be used as mixtures for room diffusing.

SPEARMINT HYDROSOL is known to have calming, cleansing, and carminative effects on the digestive system when taken as a drink and is used externally as a spray for skin irritations, soothing to the senses, and cooling on the skin. This hydrosol is an excellent skin toner, and when kept in the refrigerator, it makes a wonderful relieving mist during a ‘hot flash.’

            PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

Hydrosol of Spearmint from Positively Aromatic

Fig.7 Spearmint Hydrosol, courtesy of Positively Aromatic


            •HERBAL TEA of SPEARMINT. As previously stated, science has shown that 2-5 cups per day of Spearmint tea will relieve hairiness and PCOS in women. It is also delicious to drink and is very refreshing.

            •HERBAL BATHS, SHAMPOOS, AND HAIR CONDITIONERS. Customizing your hair, skin, and body care products with herbs is so easy. And Spearmint is ideal for this. I am in love with a mixture of Spearmint and Rosemary herbs in my shampoo and hair conditioner. I just get my favorite shampoo or conditioner and customize it by adding ¼ cup of a strong infusion of these herbs to 1 oz of the product and then proceed to wash or condition as usual. The Herbal Body Book is 400 pages of skincare formulas and recipes using both the herbs and essential oils. It is available from jeannerose.net.

            •CULINARY USE OF SPEARMINT ~  Spearmint has been used extensively in the preparation of foods throughout the world. Though seldom cooked, mint can be in teas, jellies, candies, and gums. In the Middle East, mint leaves are added to salads, which makes them more flavorful, as well as add high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and carotene. Spearmint sauce is the basic accompaniment to roast lamb and veal and is said to help in the digestion of these meats. [see The Herbal Guide to Food for more uses.]

            Mentha spicata could also be considered an antioxidant source. In fact, Spearmint and Spearmint extracts are often used as preservative agents to delay the oxidative degradation that occurs in food during processing or over time with storage.6

            •Cocktails with Spearmint Include The famous Mint julep”  from Kentucky that you drink in May at the start of the  Kentucky Derby – except maybe, in 2020, when we are all ‘sheltering in place’ because of the COVID-19 Virus. The Kentucky Derby has been run continuously since 1875 and has been only postponed once.

Mint julep cup.

Fig. 8 – the Julep

            •Herb and flower-butters are a delicious and easy way to add flavor to foods. Herb-butters are simply freshly picked herbs that are finely chopped and blended into sweet (unsalted) butter, mixing it thoroughly, and then refrigerated in a glass container so that the flavor and scent permeate the butter. Also, label it so you will remember one from the other. These butters are delicious on vegetables or spread on toast or crackers. They are necessary when having a tea party. They have not been widely used since Victorian times and may have simply dropped out of fashion…
            In most cases, fresh herbs are preferable to dried herbs and flowers. Mashed dried seeds, such as Anise seed, are also used. And margarine will not do; you must use good, sweet butter. Finely chop the fresh herbs or flowers and then mash them into the butter; cream your herbs or flowers into the softened butter with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon. Two tablespoons of herb part for every quarter-pound stick of butter. Add just a touch of Lemon juice or white wine vinegar to bring up the herb’s flavor, and refrigerate overnight to allow full flavor to develop. Spearmint butter is good with meats such as lamb and on cookies and pastries. —The Herbal Guide to Food.

            •Spearmint jelly is really delicious. I used to make it whenever we had lamb for dinner. I have a very simple recipe in my Herbal Guide to Food, p. 216. It only says mint, but I can assure you I was discussing Spearmint. When I wrote this book, I was not as particular as I am now about the name of which mint I was discussing.

KEY USE of SPEARMINT ~ Dentifrice products and as an antidepressant.  

This work is sponsored and supported by Prima Fleur Botanicals.


RESOURCES ~ Many herb stores, nurseries, home product-makers, and skincare companies make and use Spearmint. When you look at the label, make sure the mint they mention is Spearmint, Mentha spicata, for that sweet and joyous herb we all enjoy.

photograph of an old print of Spearmint

Fig. 9 – Spearmint illustration – 1850


REFERENCES used to both Peppermint and Spearmint ~

1 https://doi.org/10.1016/0896-8446(92)90002-2 • Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of peppermint and spearmint

2 Staff of L. H. Bailey Hortorium • Hortus Third • Macmillan Publishing. 1976

3 Plinie’s Natural History First Century AD. Translated by Philemon Holland.

4 The Mint Family – Uses of Mints ~ Mints are not Just for After Dinner By Linda L. Hein; additions by Jeanne Rose

Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Vol III, p. 679. Krieger Publishing. 1974

6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6274304/

7 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10826070600674893?src=recsys

8 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-003-0802-4

9 http://geo.msu.edu/extra/geogmich/mint.html

10 https://www.endocrine-abstracts.org/ea/0015/ea0015p282 (there are many articles about hirsutism and Spearmint tea)

Landing, James E. American Essence, A History of Mint in the United States. Kalamazoo Public Museum. 1969

Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols. Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999

Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations. San Francisco, California:

Rose, Jeanne. Herbal Guide to Food. 1989.

Rose, Jeanne. Kitchen Cosmetics. 1978. Available from http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html

Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. 2000. Available from http://www.jeannerose.net/books.html

Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: 1992.



Spearmint, Caraway, and Thyme

Makes me feel good and feel fine

Two of them are chiral

They go into a mirror spiral

And it is always good as a rhyme. – JeanneRose2011



A small Spearmint illustration

Moderation in All Things.
Be moderate in your use of essential oils as they are just not sustainable for the environment.
Be selective and more moderate in your usage.
Use the herb first as a tea or the infusion. —JeanneRose 2014