GERANIUM Botanical name Pelargoneum graveolens
Botanical Family Geraniaceae
"Geranium'' oil and "rose geranium" oil refer to essential oil distilled from P. graveolens. It may be that rose geranium refers to Pelargonium cultivars having high amounts of geraniol, and geranium to cultivars predominantly composed of citronellol (Jeanne Rose, 1994). Geranium species refers to the herb robert, G. robertaniurn or the American Cranesbill, C. maculatum. Other oil producing species include P. odorantissimum and P. radens.
Geranium (Pelargoneum sp.) is a perennial shrub less than three feet tall, having hairy heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges. Flowers are small and pink. The entire plant is aromatic, especially the leaves.
Pelargonium species are native to South Africa, but are cultivated around the world. The essential oil is produced mostly in Morocco, Reunion (Bourbon), Egypt, with smaller amounts from China, France, Spain, Italy and other locations around the world. Geranium grown in North America is becoming a significant source for hydrosols. Reunion geranium oil (from an island formerly called Bourbon) is thought to be the highest quality. Chinese geranium is a good choice for a less expensive oil.
The essential oil is extracted by steam distillation primarily from the leaves, but also from stalks, and flowers.
Geraniums are related to the many cultivated pelargonium varieties used for ornamental purposes. Different Pelargonium varieties have the ability to produce fragrances remarkably like other plant species; scented-leaved varieties include lemon, peppermint, nutmeg, even chocolate and chocolate mint! The variety cultivated for its essential oil, P. graveolens, produces a rose-like oil. Pelargoniums have been used to treat dysentery and also ulcers of the stomach or intestines. Pelargoniums are related to a native medicinal plant belonging to a separate genus, Geranium maculatum, the' American Cranesbill. The astringent properties of C. maculatum are useful in treating ulcers, diarrhea, dysentery, and a variety of menstrual disorders.
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