In a workshop that he gave here in BC back in 2011, Robert Tisserand advised us that although Pelargonium graveolens is the name most often used to describe Geranium essential oil, or hydrosol or hydrolat, in fact most of the geranium oil on the market is actually produced from Pelargonium x asperum a hybrid of P.radens and P. capitatum I so I wrote a blog about it Geranium – Pelargonium ???.
This morning I thought I see what the current status might be so I checked both the US National Plant Germplasm System (GRIN) and the Plant List.org. On both lists I found Pelargonium graveolens L’Her listed as being an accepted name. On GRIN has the comment: Plants cultivated under this name differ from wild plants and may be of hybrid origin. So the door is open for a different hybrid name.
When I checked both lists for Pelargonium x asperum I couldn’t find this name. The Plant List has two unresolved names that are similar, but neither are shown as hybrids, Pelargonium asperum Willd and Pelargonium asperum Ehrh ex Spreng. So, for now I’m sticking to Pelargonium graveolens, although if distillers are distilling their geranium from a different species, the onus is really on them to make sure that it is clearly marked as a different species, or hybrid, so the proper nomenclature can make its way through to the aromatherapy market.
Plant Description: Geranium is an erect, much-branched, perennial shrub that can reach a height of up to 1.3 meters (52 inches) and a spread of 1 meter (39 inches). Its hairy stems, herbaceous when young, become woody with age. The green, strongly rose-scented leaves are deeply incised leaves and, due to the presence of numerous glandular hairs, are velvety and soft.
History/Folklore: While there are over 700 different varieties of geranium, only a few of these produce essential oil. Dutch sailors transported geraniums to Europe from Africa during the 1600s. Many gardeners planted geraniums to ensure that no evil spirits would enter their homes. Colonial American housewives lined their baking pans with rose geranium leaves to impart a delicate rose flavour to their cakes. Apparently in the early 1800’s, Geranium were worn by a woman to indicate that she was feeling melancholy.
Aroma and Taste: Suzanne Catty describes this as having a rich, luscious, floral, sweet fragrance with a wonderful rose-like afternote. She also says that undiluted the flavor of the hydrosol is overpoweringly floral.
Stability and Shelf Life: Moderately stable 14 – 16 months.
pH: 4.9 – 5.2
Geranium hydrosol has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, cicatrizant, digestive, hydrating and stimulant properties.
Jeanne Rose recommends this hydrosol for bathing, cellular regeneration, balancing oil glands, oily or dry skin. She also suggests it cleans up doggy odor. She also says that it stimulates the adrenal cortex, is antidepressant and cooling for hot flashes.
Suzanne Catty recommends using this hydrosol for general skincare for everyone from the very young to the very old. Used daily, as a compress over several weeks. It will combat rough and dry skin on elbows and knees and even calluses on hands or feet. She also says that because it is anti-inflammatory and very cooling it calms sunburns, rash, insect bites and any topical conditions where heat is present.
I personally like using a Rose Geranium Hydrosol spritzer as part of my daily toner. Using it on its own or in combination with other hydrosols.
Including hydrosols in misters and sprays can make a subtle and effective difference.
In Dr. Berkowsky’s Spiritual PhytoEssencing, Geranium is recommended those who seem to have a fragile grip on their own life-force. They may experience inexplicable dizziness or faintness, or talk about feeling that they are very light or fading away. Geranium may also be helpful for those who are especially sensitive to emotional wounding and who are easily destabilized by small things.
You can view other posts written on individual hydrosols here.
Another general article on Floral Waters/Hydrosols/Hydrolats.
Reference Steffen Arctander, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, 1960 Berkowsky’s Synthesis Materia Medica/Spiritualis of Essential Oils ©1998-2018 Joseph Ben Hil-Meyer Research, Inc. Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols, The Next Aromatherapy, Healing Arts Press, 2001 Ernst Guenther, The Essential Oil, Vol V, 1948 reprinted 1972 Ann Harman, Harvest to Hydrosol, IAG Botanics LLC dba botanicals, 2015 Beverley Hawkins, Essential Oils and Carriers, Aromatherapy 101, Aromatherapy 201, Aromatherapy 301, 1999-2018 Bettina Malle & Helge Schmickl, The Essential Oil Maker’s Handbook, Spikehorn Press, 2012, 2015 Len and Shirley Price, Understanding Hydrolats Churchill Livingstone, 2004 Jeanne Rose, 374 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, Frog Ltd, 1999