Material review: Searching for the Real Ravensara (Ravensara aromatica Sonn.) Essential Oil

The essential oil of ravintsara is obtained from the leaves of a tree (Cinnamomum camphora (L.) J. Presl), which was introduced from Taiwan as an ornamental tree and now grows widely in Madagascar, with increased demand from the international market. This essential oil has often been misreported and traded as ravensara, or Ravensara aromatica. The true ravensara (R. aromatica) essential oil is extracted from the leaves of an endemic species locally known as “havozo,” or “hazomanitra,” which means “aromatic tree” in the Malagasy language. This species was also described under the botanical names of R. anisata Danguy9 and Agathophyllum aromaticum Willd. However, R. aromatica Sonn. is the correct botanical name and has precedence over these synonyms.

The taxonomical confusion, translation similarities of the common names and the lack of regional, national and international quality standards continue to allow the misidentifi cation of these oils in the marketplace.

This study was a collaborative effort between the Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products (ASNAPP) program at Rutgers University, Landscape Development Interventions (LDI) and PRONABIO (Association of Malagasy Exporters of Natural Products) that reviewed and evaluated commercial and research samples of ravensara (R. aromatica) and ravintsara (C. camphora) as part of a joint program in developing grades and standards for “NATIORA,” a new natural plant products label of Madagascar to ensure export product quality, consistency and traceability.

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