Essential oil of Artemisia Pallens Wall (Davana): a study of minor constituents

Artemisia Linn is a large genus, comprising some 280 species found in the northern hemisphere. About 34 species occur in the temperate region of the north western Himalayas (W.I.R.M, 1948). Artemisias are bitter aromatic herbs or low shrubs often with much divided leaves and inconspicuous flowers borne on numerous small heads. Some of them are medicinal and are the source of santonin, a valuable anthelmintic drug. Several species yield essential oil and a few are reported to be useful as fodder. The species which are used for production of essential oils are A. absinthium Linn. and A. dracunculus Linn. Artemisia pallens is a minor item in the essential oil trade and is produced only in India.

Artemisia pallens Wall (Fam. Compositae), commonly known as davana or devanam in South India, is one of the minor but delicately fragrant items among the various species of Artemisia yielding essential oil of commercial importance. The herb is highly priced and prized for its exquisite and deep, mellow, persistent, characteristically fruity odour. As a common practice, davana is offered mixed with other flowers in temples in South India. It is also artistically blended in floral chaplets worn by South Indian ladies. The exquisite and delicate scent of davana leaves is agreeable and welcome to everyone.

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