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. The oil content of the flowers is less than that of the leaves. It has been said, that if the oil is made from the leaves when they start turning yellow, as it has a stronger rose aroma then the younger, greener leaves.
During the 18th Century, hundreds of successful hybrids and cultivators from Europe, such as Italy, Spain, France and Portugal returned to the African continent, to areas of the Belgian Congo, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and the French colony of Reunion Island.
Geranium was first introduced into Reunion in 1870 - an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean 500 miles from Madagascar. The Bourbon oil differs compositionally from other Geranium oils, obviously due to geographical location, climate conditions etc. The oil is highly sought after by fragrance companies, as it is considered the finest quality of the available Geranium producers.
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.