There are over 700 varieties of cultivated geranium and pelargonium species, and approximately 250 natural species. Both of the Geraniaceae plant family, with many, if not thousands grown for ornamental purposes in the garden (hybrids and cultivators). Though, only around a dozen species are acceptable for essential oil production and supply. Pelargonium graveolens is the main species cultivated for essential oil.
A perennial shrubby plant which grows to about three feet or approximately 1 metre in height, it has small, pinkish white flowers and fragrantly pointy, serrated-edged leaves.
During the 18th Century, the popularity was so great, that it had spread around the world from Europe and Africa to Israel, Russia, India, Japan, Australia, North and Central America, to have established production at some point in time. It wasn't until the 1940's, when China was introduced to the pelargoniums, which up to now, still remains one of largest Geranium Oil producing countries. Earlier, by the 1930's, Grasse had released plants which established a strong-hold in Morocco and Algeria, second only to Renuion at the time.
Cultivated plants used for oil production, are regularly renewed on average 7 years, though some have been known to continue til 10 years before replacement. The main 3 producers from North Africa being Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, now being Egypt as the main producer of the oil, due to its rich surrounding areas of the Nile Delta.
Geranium oil has a balancing effect on the nervous system and relieves depression and anxiety, stress, while balancing and lifting the spirits. It is said to having a great stimulating effect, which helps with detoxifying the body and also eases female health, like treating menstrual and menopausal problems, heavy periods, breast tenderness, as well as cellulite and fluid retention. It has been said, that it is useful for treating jaundice, gall stones and can also be used for easing nose bleeds and other haemorrhaging. An excellent skin moisturiser and regenerator, as it has been suggested that the oil helps to balance the secretion of sebum and balances oily and dry skins, also an effective aid to help with burns, wounds, ulcers, athletes foot and other skin problems. It is commonly used for childhood ailments such as chicken pox, measles and mumps.