Pelargonium graveolens, the rose-scented geranium, belongs to the same plant genus as the popular red-flowered window box geranium. Geraniums are native to arid areas of South Africa's Cape Province. The plant is highly drought resistant, thanks to its semi-succulent, water-conserving stems and leaves.
The essential oil in rose geranium leaves has constituents -- geraniol, linalol and citronellol -- that are also present in rose oil. It's not surprising that the aroma of geranium's fragrance resembles that of rose with a musty, minty-green undertone.
Geranium oil has been described as a natural perfume complete unto itself. It's often used to scent soaps and detergents because, unlike many other essential oils, rose geranium's aroma profile is not readily affected by the alkaline nature of soap products.
Rose geranium varies much across strains and distillations, in part because the plant is greatly influenced by the climate and soil in which it grows. Geranium oil can range from very sweet and rosy to musty, minty and green. One type of geranium oil, known as Bourbon, has established itself as a premium perfume oil. Bourbon geranium is cultivated and distilled exclusively on the island of Reunion in the Indian ocean. The environment of Reunion has produced a strain of geranium with a very rich, rosy aroma. Perfumers prefer to work with Bourbon oil because it blends well with a wide array of very different oils including clove, sandalwood and lavender.
The main geranium oil-producing regions of the world are found on the African continent, Russia, China and Reunion. Russian and Chinese oils tend to have a greener, fresh-rosy aroma while Egyptian and Reunion oils tend to be heavier and darker.
Geranium oil is distilled from the above-ground parts of the plant. Most of the essential oil glands are found in its leaves. After cutting, the plants are partially dried to increase the yield of oil. That way there's less water to be vaporized and extracted from the plant material during the distillation.
Popular during the Victorian era, rose geranium was often kept potted in parlors were a fresh sprig was always available to revive the senses. The fresh leaves were also offered in finger bowls at formal dining tables.
Today, geranium is an indispensable aromatherapy oil. It's one of the best skincare oils, offering relief from congested, oily and dry skin. On an emotional level, geranium promotes stability and balance.
Geranium Toning Cream
Geranium skin preparations are gently astringent, opening pores and clearing oily complexions. A tonifying cream containing geranium oil makes a nourishing moisturizer and makeup remover.
Geranium Balancing Aromatherapy Blend
The balancing effect that geranium oil has on our emotions is often utilized in aromatherapy. Though geranium is distilled from leaves, its aroma and effects are comparable to such floral oils as rose and lavender. Humans are drawn to floral aromas because their pleasant scents can be uplifting and gently inspiring -- or evoke a sense of calm and tranquility.