Geranium oil is obtained by steam distillation of the partially dried green herbage of Pelargonium sp. It is one of the most important oils used in perfumey formulation, and rarely is used as a flavoring. It possesses a characteristic rosy odor which is primarily due to citronellol and geraniol, often known as the “rose alcohols.” These terpene alcohols are often known, collectively, as the “rhodinol” or “rhodinol fraction.” Because of the characteristic rosy floral odor, the oil is suitable as a component of a wide range of high-grade perfumery products.
It seems that the geranium (Pelargonium sp.) that is being grown in the Yunnan province (China) was introduced hy European missionaries in the 1940s. Since the 1960s, the cultivation has been developed by the Academic Institute of Botany Kunming.
When it first appeared on the market, Yunnan geranium oil was considered to be of mediocre qualiiy Over the past ten years, the quafity has steadily improved and, until recently, it had the advantage of being low priced. Although recent climatic setbacks have caused a general rise in the price of the oil, it remains highly competitive, especially with Egyptian and Reunion oils. In recent years, oil production in Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar, has fallen steadily, and the limited quantity produced is high priced. Similarly, oil production in Egypt continues to face domestic problems such as disease and falling yield. As a result, China is likely to play a more dominant role in the geranium market in the foreseeable future.