Archive | June 2017


Synopsis:  An ambitious discussion of the essential oil of the grass Vetivert from the rootlets, its uses, growth, description, organoleptic qualities and uses of the essential oil.
A Vetivert basket and Vetivert essential oils from three countries. Courtesy Eden Botanicals.



 Jeanne Rose


Common Name/Latin Binomial: Vetiver or Vetivert is Chrysopogon zizanioides. Vetiver is the plant and Vetivert is the essential oil of the plant.

            Other Common Name/Naming Information: On the basis of similar genetic analysis of related genera such as Chrysopogon and Sorghum, a new taxonomy was proposed by Veldkamp, who combined Chrysopogon zizanioides and Vetiveria zizanioides under the unique denomination Chrysopogon zizanioides L. Roberty. the former term, Vetiveria zizanioides, however, is still widely used in the current literature.

Vetiver belongs to the same part of the grass family as maize, sorghum, sugarcane, and lemongrass. Its botanic name, Vetiveria zizanioides (Linn) Nash, has had a checkered history—at least 11 other names in 4 different genera have been employed in the past. The generic name comes from “vetiver,” a Tamil word meaning “root that is dug up.” The specific name zizanioides (often misspelled zizanoides) was given first by the great Swedish taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus in 1771. It means “by the riverside”, and reflects the fact that the plant is commonly found along waterways in India.” —

            Family: From the grass family Poaceae. Poaceae or Gramineae is a large and nearly ubiquitous family of monocotyledonous flowering plants known as grasses. The term Poaceae is derived from the Ancient Greek for fodder


Essential Oil Plants of the Grass Family ~ Gramineae (Poaceae).

Chrysopogon zizanioides is commonly known as Vetiver, a bunch grass whose roots are used.
Cymbopogon citratus West Indian Lemongrass;

Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian Lemongrass

Cymbopogon martini var. motia is Palmarosa grass, syn. Andropogon martini or Cymbopogon martinii.

Cymbopogon martinii var. sofia is Gingergrass

Cymbopogon nardus is Citronella grass.


Countries of Origins: Haiti, Java, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Japan and La Réunion and India for the Khus variety.

Eden Botanicals Harvest Location: Haiti and Sri Lanka with both organically-grown and cultivated types grown.


Endangered or Not: The annual world trade in Vetivert oil is estimated to be approximately 250 tons with Brazil, China, Haiti, India, Japan, Java, and Reunion being the main producers. Europe, India, Japan, and the United States are the main consumers.

The plant does not seem to be endangered although there is fear that consumers will mistakenly order the fertile plant over the internet and introduce it to a place where it may overrun.


General description of Plant habitat and growth: There are about 50 species of Chrysopogon of which only one is used in aromatherapy and that species zizanioides has two main types, a fertile one and a sterile one. This is a perennial grass with very fragrant long rhizomatous roots, growing to six feet high.

“It is important to realize that Vetiver comes in two types—this is a crucial point because only one of them is suitable for use around the world. If the wrong one is planted, it may spread and produce problems for farmers.

A wild type from North India known as Khus or Vetiver. This is the original undomesticated species. It flowers regularly, sets fertile seed, and is known as a “colonizer.” Its rooting tends to be shallow, especially in the damp ground it seems to prefer. If loosed on the world, it might become a weed.

A “domesticated” type from South India. This is the Vetiver that has existed under cultivation for centuries and is widely distributed throughout the tropics. It is probably a man-made selection from the wild type. It is nonflowering, does not seed (or at least is non-spreading), and must be replicated by vegetative propagation. It is the only safe type to use for erosion control.” —

It southern cultivar is a densely tufted, perennial grass that is considered sterile outside its natural habitat.  It flowers but sets no seeds. It is a lawn grass in the tropics, however, when eaten the sharp calluses on the lemma can pierce an animals stomach. (The Lemma is a morphological term used in botany and refers to a part of the spikelet of grasses (Poaceae). It is the lowermost of two chaff-like bracts enclosing the grass floret. It often bears a long bristle called an awn, and may be similar in form to the glumes – chaffy bracts at the base of each spikelet.

Vetiver can grow up to (5 ft.) high and form clumps as wide. The stems are tall and the leaves are long, thin, and rather rigid. The flowers are brownish-purple. Unlike most grasses, which form horizontally spreading, mat-like root systems, vetiver’s roots grow downward, 7 ft. to 13 ft. in depth.


Vetiver is the best plant in the world to stop erosion and repair damaged land from erosion. Once permanent Vetiver rows are established the roots should never be dug up. The aromatic roots have been used since ancient times in India. The fragrant, insect-repelling roots yield oil, which is valuable in the perfume industry. Traditionally, these roots were woven into mats, fans and fragrant screens, while the tops of the grass were used for thatch, mulch, handicraft, fodder and animal bedding.

Vetivert roots


Portion of plant used in distillation, how distilled, extraction methods and yields:   The roots of Vetiver are picked, washed, comminuted (chopped), dried, and macerated (soaked) in the distillation water, before being steam distilled.  Yield: 0.5%.

The quality of the oil depends on the age of the roots and the length of distillation ~ from 12-36 hours. Distillation studies on vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides) in northern India during 1987 to 1991, demonstrated that maximum oil content was associated with freshly harvested roots and that extractable oil decreased with delays in harvest and storage period.


Organoleptic Characteristics:

  • Color …………………. Depending on source, it is honey colored to a caramel brown
  • Clarity ………………… The lighter the color the more it is clear, the darker then semi-opaque
  • Viscosity ……………. Viscous to very viscous and thick like molasses
  • Intensity of odor … 4-6 (often the darker the color the more intense is the odor)

The guide to gauge the Intensity of odor ~ On a scale of 1-10, Lemon is on the low end about 2, while Peppermint is about 7-8. There are Lavenders that run the gamut from 1-9. However, Vetivert is often not very intense and softens with use in a perfume.

  • Taste ……………………. A burning bitter aromatic flavor, a smoky scent that rises up the throat.

5 Vetivert oils ~ courtesy Eden Botanicals and Prima Fleur


Odor Description/ Aroma Assessment: In general, the odor of this EO is very distinctive, yet when compared with one another there are definite differences. The newer samples of Vetivert are lighter in color and the lighter the color the less intense and less complex is the odor. As you can see from the above illustration, color varies from pale yellow to very dark brown. Color is removed from the oil because perfume makers do not like color. Personally, I prefer the deep rich intense scent of the original Vetivert types with the rich dark color for my perfumery classes.

Vetivert when double-distilled has an earthy, green tenacious character with sweet wood quality. During re-distillation, a small fraction of the constituents is removed, thus removing some of the therapeutic quality and other Vetivert oils are recommended when therapy is required.

Vetivert oil is a viscous amber-colored oil with a characteristic rooty, precious-woody odor of great tenacity. It is olfactorily dominated by a complex mixture of oxygenated sesquiterpenes. Has a persistent green-woody note and can be soft, woody-fruity when used with Patchouli, Sandalwood, Jasmine.

Vetivert double-distilled from Haiti is a light-colored EO, clear, medium viscosity and the scent is woody, green and slightly fruity odor, with less definable complexity. Because of its lack of color, it is often preferred in a perfume.

Vetivert organically grown from Haiti is a clear oil with a nice yellow color. It is strongly herbaceous and earth with a woody and even spicy note.

I am very fond of the Vetivert from Java with its deep brown color, semi-opaque, and viscous. The scent is woody, green with a floral and herbal back note. This very complex oil will indeed make your perfumes brown but upon dilution the scent smoothens out. It is wonderful with Rose or jasmine and Patchouly to make deep rich grounding odors that are sometimes

Solubility ……………………… 1-2 volumes of 80% alcohol
Specific Gravity ……………. 0.984 – 1.035 @ 25° C
Optical Rotation …………. Varies from +14° to + 37°
Refractive Index at 20° … 1.515 1.530


Chemical Components: There is great variety in the GC/MS of Vetivert but the one that I have seen is Vetiverol up to 50%, Vetivol up to 10%, terpenes like Vetivene up to 20%, and phenols up to 11%, Furfural, and Sesquiterpenes.

Two main chemotypes of the C. zizanioides species can be found: the ‘typical’ vetiver that is widespread all over the world and especially in Haiti, Java, Brazil, China, Madagascar, Japan and La Réunion. This produces an essential oil containing mainly zizaane, vetivane, eremophilane and eudesmane derivatives. The essential oils prepared industrially for the perfumery world market come exclusively from this variety.

On the other hand, ‘Khus’ oil another chemotype, is distinguished from the typical C. zizanioides by high amounts of cadinane derivatives, such as khusinol and especially khusilal. Khus oil is also devoid of the vetivones, characteristic of the ‘typical’ samples.


General Properties: (by IG=ingestion or IN=inhalation or AP=application):
Application:  Fixative in perfumery, stimulant, humectant, antiseptic, tonic, immuno-stimulant, emmenagogue, antispasmodic, sedative, and antiparasitic.
Ingestion:  It is not taken internally.
Inhalation:  Stimulant, immuno-stimulant, calmative, some think it has emmenagogue properties, sedative, and nervine.


Application:  Vetivert is used as a fixative in perfumery. When used in massage oil it is good for the circulation. It is used in lotions for aching joints, arthritis, or rheumatism.  It is a circulatory tonic and it can alleviate menstrual problems.  Specifically, it is said to promote and regulate menstrual flow and alleviates cramping.


            Application/ Skincare:   It is moisturizing and humectant for dry skin.  So, it is used in skin care on dry, irritated, mature, or aging skin.  Vetivert EO is useful in lotions to assist in skin hydration, if used with Lemon oil to help even out the color of the skin, and when used regularly will help to reveal smoother, better-looking complexion. The EO is useful in anti-aging creams and lotions, especially with Frankincense EO.


a recipe for the skin

Exfoliation is just like peeling the skin off an onion.  Dead cells are removed with scrubs, masks, or acid peels, revealing the younger, smoother layer of skin beneath. Exfoliate with ground coffee, ground almonds, ground walnuts, ground oats or a combination of these with hydrosols to hydrate and essential oils to treat. Essential oils should be gentle such as Owyhee, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Rose, and Vetivert.

I am particularly fond of ¼ cup ground Almonds with enough Roman Chamomile or Rose hydrosol to moisten and a drop of Vetivert. Mix together, apply to clean moist face and gently massage in with circular motions. Let it sit while you shower and then gently rinse off.


Pain Release Formula
Mix together 20 drops Grapefruit – white, + 10 drops Rosewood + 5 drops Vetivert.
Shake vigorously and apply by massage to any painful spots on your body.


Perfumery ~ Vetiver grass roots contain an essential oil and used with other tropical odors is considered a high-class perfume. Copper plate inscriptions have been found that list the perfume (probably as a maceration) as one of the articles used by royalty. Vetivert oil is one of the ingredients in Chanel No. 5. The famous French perfume was introduced in 1921 and is still in production. Vetivert oil is contained in 90% of all western perfumes and its greatest use is in modern perfume creations. Vetivert oil is estimated to be approximately 250 tons per year in world trade.  The herb has been known in India since ancient times.


Diffuse/Diffusion: Vetivert can be diffused if you mix it with other essential oils, specifically those that are less viscous such as the Lavenders or citrus odors. It makes a very warm grounding odor that helps calm a household.


Emotional/Energetic Use: In folklore, Vetivert oil is used to increase financial abundance. In more common ritual, inhaling the oil is said to protect the body from menacing energies, including physical illness. Vetiver is employed in massage and aromatherapy for its grounding influence, to calm the central nervous system of one who feels “uprooted.”


Emotional Uses (AP or IN):   

Inhalation: “The scent is calming and sedating, used for comforting and for people who feel ‘uprooted’ or without stability.  It affects the parathyroid glands” —  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols, p. 147.  It also alleviates stress, tension, and nervous tension.

Vetivert is also a good grounding oil for those who focus on intellectual activities to the exclusion of the physical, the herb added to the bath for an exceptional stress-relieving soak, and to inhale in the case of shock due to, for example, an accident, loss of employment, bereavement, separation, or divorce.


Ritual Formula – Send All Evil Away
Make a formula 20 drops Rosewood + 10 drops Palmarosa + 3 drops Vetivert.
Mix it together and use by inhalation or add to 70 drops (2 ml +) of a carrier oil.
Apply to wrists with intention and inhale.


Key Use: Oil of Depression and the immune system or Oil of Tranquility.

Depending on the country where used, this plant when distilled is used in perfumery and if dried used as potpourri and bug repellent.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Tomato Tales with Vetivert EO & Jeanne Rose’s experience

            I collected the oil of this plant for 30 years, from various company lists. Didn’t like the odor so kept the oil and let it gracefully age on my shelves. This is one of the major essential oils that can age gracefully for many years. I have stock from 1983 and after. I have stock from a company now long gone that has added synthetics. Why this was the case, I do not know as it is a relatively inexpensive essential oil.

For all these years, I was not that fond of Vetivert essential oil although I really loved the Vetiver fans and fragrant baskets that were made with the roots. I tried to like the scent but was not successful using it in perfumes or blends. It took my friend, Marianne Griffeth, of Prima Fleur Botanicals, to teach me to love it via her ability to make successful and fragrant blends using Vetivert. Her blends were always warm and delicious smelling ~ she talked about it so much that I began to try to use Vetivert oil. I have been getting better and better and am now truly loving the scent. I like to use the less intense oils that I have obtained from Eden Botanicals but also love the deep, dark Vetivert I get from Prima Fleur Botanicals.

Recently, I took 1 tablespoon of plain unscented cleansing cream and added 1-drop of Vetivert oil and massaged on my clean face and then let it sit for a few hours before I washed it off with warm water. This was a very pleasant experience and my face looked dewy soft.


Blends Best with: Cassie, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Chocolate Absolute, Coffee Bean, Frankincense, Galbanum, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, Violet Leaf, Ylang Ylang and citrus and other rich long-lived scents.


            Blending with formula ~ When making perfumes, always mix your oils together and then shake them via succussion [Succussion – to fling up from below] to make a synergy.  Let them age.  Add more oil if needed.  Age. Then add the carrier. Alcohol is not usually added to a Chypre type scent.

These are made with a top note, heart or body note and base or fixative note plus bridges if needed.


Chypre #3 ~ Vetivert
Top Note – 8 drops Clary Sage flower
Heart Note – 3 drops Cypress berry + 3 drops Grapefruit peel + 2 drops Petitgrain leaf
+ 2 drops Petitgrain leaf
Base Note – 4 drops Vetivert root + 2 drops Oakmoss
Fixative Note – 1 drop Labdanum resin

Mix these essential oils together, let them age for a few weeks. Smell, adjust ingredients if necessary. Dilute with oil, or alcohol and age again before using.


Gayathri India Perfume – 8-15-12
Bergamot peel – 40 (dark green)
Vanilla abs – 20
Balsam of Tolu – 10 (pre-dilute 50•50 with grape spirits)
Vetivert roots – 5

Mix – wait – add Cane or Grape spirits – wait – filter if necessary – wait – Use.


Dark Chocolate Truffle Perfume
Mix in any combination, start with 5 drops of each, smell, analyze
and add more or less of whatever you like.
Cocoa (Chocolate) Abs
Tobacco Abs
Vetivert EO
Vanilla Abs


Basket made of Vetiver roots


HERBAL USES: Varieties of this plant are grown throughout the tropics and used to thatch roofs or as a terracing plant. The roots of this grass acquire a soft almost sandalwood like odor when dried.  If these plants are kept moist and laid about the house, they help to keep bugs and moths out. And these dried roots are one of the best fixatives for dry potpourri as they blend well with Rose scent. Theses roots can be used in bath herbs, powdered for sachet or drunk as a tonic or stimulant tea. — Herbs & Things, Jeanne Rose’s Herbal, p. 112.

            Sometimes the roots are cleaned and used for brushes, for window screens (when wetted, will cool the house as the wind blows through), fans, mats and baskets and the chemical constituents of zizanol and epizizanol are insect repellents.


HYDROSOL: To date I have not had the opportunity to try a Vetiver hydrosol.

PLEASE NOTE: A true hydrosol should be specifically distilled for the hydrosol, not as a co-product or even a by-product of essential oil distillation. The plant’s cellular water has many components most are lost under pressurized short steam runs for essential oil, or by using dried material. We recommend that the producers specifically distill for a product by using plant material that is fresh.

Historical Uses: Historically used in perfumery while the herb is woven or used in mats to fragrance the air.

 Interesting Information: One type is called Khus-Khus.  The roots are used to make fragrant fans and screens, which give off a refreshing, clean scent when dampened.  “The roots are interwoven with flower matting, window coverings, etc. giving rooms a fragrance and deterring insects.  The oil is used in chypre (green, earthy) and oriental type perfumes, and soaps, toiletries, etc.  Growing the plant protects against soil erosion” essential aromatherapy, p. 170.

Key Use: Depression and the immune system. Oil of Tranquility.

 Contraindications: There do not seem to be any contraindications for the use of Vetiver plant in its use as blinds nor for the essential oil in perfumery or aromatherapy.

Do not Ingest essential oils: Although some oils are important flavoring oils in the flavor industry and thus ingested in very small amounts in many foods, especially meats and sausages, it is not a good idea to use them yourself either in capsules or in honey to take internally.
Safety Precautions: Do not apply the essential oil neat, especially to the underarms or delicate parts of the body. Most oils are probably not to be used on babies, children or pregnant women. Many aromatherapist suggest that there are some oils not be used at all. However, as with many plants, essential oil chemistry is subject to change depending on species and terroir.
Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil). —Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction, then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64
DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©





Herbal Rejuvenating Parchment Skin Bath

Mix together equal parts of Patchouli leaves (upon which you have sprayed a bit of Patchouli oil), Vetivert roots, Linden flowers, and Comfrey leaf. Mix this all together. For a great bath, use at least 4 volume of the mixture. Add to a quart of water, and simmer gently for 10 minutes, then pour the liquid into your bath and the herbal matter into a gauze bag. Tie off the bag and throw into the tub. The Patchouli is rejuvenating for the senses, the Vetiver is a tonic stimulant and beneficial to healthy skin tone, and the Comfrey regenerates aging skin.

This is a great combination for men. —from Jeanne Rose Herbal Body Book, p. 301.



Orange Chypre Potpourri (dried herbs).

Chypre (sheepre) scents were invented in France and used in the 16th and 17th Century and were made up of various herbal powders and resins.  See Red Chypre as an example of that time.  And they are non-alcoholic perfumes that contain a variety of oils and resins.  The true traditional formula was one composed of Oakmoss, Labdanum, Jasmine, Patchouli and Bergamot with animal notes of civet and musk with Vetivert often added. These are often composed on the contrasts between Bergamot and Oakmoss and will often include Patchouli and citrus odors.  These scents are good on brunettes and for most men except those men who are very fair, pale or blonde. Aromatics Elixir, MaGriffe and Paloma Picasso are examples of Chypre scent for women.

Potpourris and Sachets are usually made of three main ingredients: (not EO) the main plant for its scent and color; the essential scent in EO Perfumes, the blender plant scent and the fixative plant scent, which are usually resins and base notes.

Scent your basic herbs and resins with their own essential oil and age before using them in the final construction.

Remember that Potpourri ingredients are generally left in whole form so that the form of the plants is still identifiable (with fixative ingredients in powder form) while Sachet ingredients are all comminuted and/or powdered form.
8 oz. Orange flowers WH (whole)
4 oz. Spearmint WH
3 oz. Coriander seeds, crushed
2 oz. Calamus CS (cut & sifted)
2 oz. Vetiver roots CS
1 oz. Oakmoss CS
1 oz. Benzoin resin, crushed
Add some cotton balls or tips of Q-tips scented with Bergamot and Vetivert oil.

Mix this all together and age in a covered light-proof container. Occasionally, open the top of the container and let the lovely potpourri scent the room.


Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Published by Krieger.
Herbal Studies Course/ Jeanne Rose & Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 1992
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book, 3rd edition, 2014 printing, Cambridge University Press.
Rose, Jeanne.  375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.  Berkeley, California: Frog, Ltd., 1999
Rose, Jeanne.  The Aromatherapy Book: Applications & Inhalations.  San Francisco, California:
Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. San Francisco, CA. 2009
Rose, Jeanne. Natural Botanical Perfumery Workbook.  Available at
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. Frog, Ltd. Berkeley, CA. 2000
Shaath, Nadima • Healing Civilizations; The Search for Therapeutic Essential Oils & Nutrients • Cameron+Co . 2017
Wikipedia on growth and morphology

Abstracts/Scientific Data:
Evaluation of vetiver oil and seven insect-active essential oils against the Formosan subterranean termite. PubMed • Zhu, B C; Henderson, etc.
Modification of sleep-waking and electroencephalogram induced by vetiver essential oil inhalation
PubMed Central • Cheaha, Dania etc.
Constituents of south Indian vetiver oils. PubMed • Mallavarapu, Gopal Rao; etc.
Evaluation of DEET and eight essential oils for repellency against nymphs of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae), Technology Transfer Automated Retrieval System (TEKTRAN)
Vetiver being harvested in China






~ JR ~


~ Lemongrass ~ EO PROFILE & Herbal Use

Synopsis: An ambitious discussion of the essential oil of the grass oil Lemongrass with the uses, growth, description, organoleptic qualities and herbal uses of the plant.


Cymbopogon species

By Jeanne Rose ~ June 2017


ESSENTIAL OIL PROFILE ~ Name of Oil: Lemongrass – 2 species

 LATIN BINOMIAL/BOTANICAL FAMILY: Lemon grass West Indian (Cymbopogon citratus) and Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian Lemongrass.

FAMILY: Lemongrass GRASS is a genus of the Gramineae (Poaceae) family of grasses. The name Cymbopogon is derived from the Greek words “kymbe” (boat) and “pogon” (beard), referring to the flower spike arrangement.  PRONUNCIATION ~ (sim-bo-pO’ gon)

NAMING ~ Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf DC or Augustin-Pyramus deCandolle, a Swiss botanist named many plants.



Chrysopogon zizanioides is commonly known as Vetiver, a bunch grass whose roots are used. Synonym is   Vetiveria) zizanioides) Vetivert (Chrysopogon zizanioides)

Cymbopogon nardus is Citronella grass.

Cymbopogon citratus West Indian Lemongrass;

Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian Lemongrass

Cymbopogon martini var. motia is Palmarosa grass, syn. Andropogon martini or Cymbopogon martinii.

Cymbopogon martinii var. sofia is Gingergrass

Cymbopogon nardus is Citronella grass.


COUNTRIES OF ORIGIN: Africa: north, Macronesia, west tropical, west-central tropical, east tropical, southern tropical, middle Atlantic Ocean, and western Indian ocean. Asia-temperate: China and eastern Asia. Asia-tropical: India, Indo-China, Malesia, and Papuasia. Australasia: Australia. Pacific: southwestern, south-central, northwestern, and north-central. North America: Mexico. South America: Mesoamericana, Caribbean, northern South America, western South America, Brazil, and southern South America.

Eden Botanicals source is India for the organically-grown and Nepal for the wild-crafted.

GROWTH: Cultigen from Asia can be cultivated in Florida, flowers are rare. The culms (stems) of this dense, clump-forming grass have been used in cooking and herbal medicine for centuries. West Indian Lemongrass, C. citratus is a genus of the Gramineae (Poaceae) family of grasses. Some species (particularly the Cymbopogon citratus), are commonly cultivated as culinary and medicinal herbs because of their scent, resembling that of lemons (Citrus limon) while C. flexuosus, the East Indian species is mostly used for aromatherapy or medicine.



  1. citratus Steam distillation of fresh or partly dried leaves. Yield: 1.8-2.2%.
  2. flexuosus Steam distillation of fresh or partly dried leaves. Yield: 1.03%


Seasonal variation was found to be very effective on the yield of Lemongrass oil and its constituents. Citral percentage was maximum in winter season (November-December) and minimum during the rainy season (July-August). Oil was found to be the highest (1.03%) during pre-monsoon (March-June) and onset of monsoon.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus (Steud.) Wats) is a perennial, multi-cut aromatic grass, which yields an essential oil used in perfumery and pharmaceutical industries and Vitamin A, has a long initial lag phase. To utilize the crop growth resources more efficiently during this phase, studies were made to explore the possibility of intercropping food legumes with Lemongrass. An experiment conducted during 1992–93 revealed that the food legumes like blackgram (Vigna mungo (L) Hepper), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata (L) Walp) or soybean (Glycine max (L) Merr.) could be intercropped in the initial stages of Lemongrass to get extra yields over and above that of Lemongrass, without affecting the yield of Lemongrass.” —


HISTORY AND INTERESTING FACTS: Studies indicate that Cymbopogon citratus possesses various pharmacological activities such as anti-amoebic, antibacterial, antidiarrheal, anti-filarial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Various other effects like antimalarial, anti-mutagenicity, anti-mycobacterial, antioxidants, hypoglycemic and neurobehaviorial have also been studied. These results are very encouraging and indicate that this herb should be studied more extensively to confirm these results and reveal other potential therapeutic effects.

           C.flexuosus also called Cochin Grass or Malabar Grass (Malayalam: is a perennial grass native to India, Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand. … Lemongrass essential oil is produced by steam distillation of the freshly cut leaves, or can be extracted using alcohol.

Lemongrass oil (species not carefully indicated) is used as a pesticide and preservative, is put on the ancient palm-leaf manuscripts found in India as a preservative. It is used at the Oriental Research Institute Mysore, the French Institute of Pondicherry, the Association for the Preservation of the Saint Thomas Christian Heritage in Kerala, and many other manuscript collections in India. The oil also injects natural fluidity into the brittle palm leaves, and the hydrophobic nature of the oil keeps the manuscripts dry so the text is not lost to decay due to humidity. Lemongrass is also used in the synthesis of Vitamin A and as such can be considered a good source of the vitamin in a variety of products including a margarine type substance in India.

[The manufacture of synthetic Vitamin A from lemongrass oil owes its existence to the demand arising from the need of fortifying Vanaspati (synthetic margarine) by adding synthetic Vitamin A.]

CHEMISTRY ~ The quality of lemongrass oil is generally determined by the content of citral, the aldehyde responsible for the lemon odor. Some other constituents of the essential oils are -terpineol, myrcene, citronellol, methyl heptenone, dipentene, geraniol, limonene, nerol, and farnesol. West Indian oil differs from East Indian oil in that it is less soluble in 70 percent alcohol and has a slightly lower citral content.

Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, is 75-85% citral and up to 25% myrcene. Because of the myrcene with its strongly green and vegetative note, this is not my favorite citrus odor or even one of my essential oils that I enjoy although a favorite of many.  Lemongrass used in a soap could be used for skin care, or a foot soap for athlete’s foot, also considered to help minimize perspiration and stinky sweat.

Citral, an aldehyde that is also part of the chemistry of citrus oils, always occurs as a mixture of its stereoisomer geranial and neral. (A stereo or optical isomer are identical mirror-image forms of a component, one occurring in d or dextro =right or clockwise form and the other l or laevo =left in counter-clockwise form. Think of looking at your hand and then in the mirror.)

“When given orally or by inhalation (citral), may possess prominent protective effects against bronchial asthma that is induced by inhalation of broncho-constrictors (1977). Like May Chang oil the essential oil may inhibit anaphylactic shock when inhaled, and has a relaxing effect on the tracheal muscle.”

         Citral has been shown to have an estrogenic effect causing prostatic hyperplasia (in rats), but Tisserand and Balacs referring to Lemongrass (Cymbopogon flexuosus (nees ex Steud.) J. F. Watson) say that a mild hormone-like (estrogenic) action may be assumed from the citral content but that as used in aromatherapy it is not known whether there will be an estrogenic or androgenic effect. …from Essential Oil Safety.

         Citral in Lemongrass can be extracted using alcohol.


PROPERTIES AND USAGE EO: C. citratus have antioxidant properties as well as being a wonderful addition to a skin care line for oily skin and hair. Cymbopogon citratus, Stapf (Lemon grass), the herb, is commonly used in teas, soups and curries. It is also suitable for poultry, fish and seafood.

Lemongrass is used in herbal teas and other nonalcoholic beverages in baked goods, and in confections. Oil from Lemongrass is widely used as a fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics, such as soaps and creams.

Citral, extracted from the oil, is used in flavoring soft drinks in scenting soaps and detergents, as a fragrance in perfumes and cosmetics, and as a mask for disagreeable odors in several industrial products. Citral is also used in the synthesis of ionone used in perfumes and cosmetics.  Lemongrass EO used in a soap could be used for skin care, or a foot soap for athlete’s foot, also considered to help minimize perspiration and stinky sweat.

As a medicinal plant, Lemongrass has been considered a carminative and insect repellent. The volatile oils may also have some pesticide and mutagenic activities.

Oil of West Indian lemongrass, C. citratus, acts as a central nervous system depressant. West Indian Lemongrass is reported to have antimicrobial activity. Oil of West Indian lemongrass acts as a central nervous system depressant.

Oil of East Indian lemongrass, C. flexuosus, has antifungal activity. It is believed to help with stress-related disorders, and has been shown to have antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Cymbopogon flexuosus completely inhibits all MRSA colony growth. Oil of East Indian Lemongrass has antifungal activity.

Power Up Your Tea Tree: Add 10% citral-type essential oil such as Lemongrass, Litsea cubeba or Backhousia citrata to 90% Tea Tree.  It doubles the power of the Tea Tree, lessens the irritating value of the citral EO and thus you can use less percentage, and a lower dosage, in a formula.


DIFFUSE/DIFFUSION: Lemongrass is very strong in citral and should always be mixed with other essential oil that has alcohol in it before you diffuse. Use oils such as Lavender, Tea Tree, Rose Geranium, Palmarosa or Rosemary. This will give you the cleansing air benefit of the Lemongrass and the attributes of the other essential oils such as calming for Lavender, cleansing the air of Tea Tree, balance of the Rose Geranium, the antifungal quality of the Palmarosa and the stimulation of the Rosemary. I urge you not to use Lemongrass in a diffuser in a child’s room.

Pleasant Room Diffuser Formula for Clean Air

Mix equal quantities of these essential oils. And use them in a spray bottle or diffuser.
Lavender, Lemon oil, Lemongrass, and Thyme CT. linalool essential oils
These are all good for purification and clean air.


BLENDING: Both types of Lemongrass blend well with many different oils. Remember if you want a stronger citrus scent, use C. citratus and if you want a more medicinal scent use C. flexuosus. Blends well with Atlas Cedar, Basil, Coriander Rose Geranium Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Palmarosa, Rosemary and Tea Tree.





HYDROSOL: Lemongrass hydrosol is useful in many types of skin care products from simple facial spray as a toner to being added to lotions or creams or body washes as a cleansing refreshing astringent. It is healing to the skin and works especially well in combination with other hydrosols from Lavender to Rosemary. Lemongrass has a very refreshing smell that adds to the products. It is especially pleasant as an after-shave spray.


Energetics-Emotional Use: Personally, I prefer the citratus type of Lemongrass as it has the most citrus forward scent. I find it to be rather sedating to my nerves and thus inhale the diluted scent when I have a stressful doctor’s appointment or nerve-wracking commute. Worwood mentions that it is an oil to help ‘one to focus’ – I assume on whatever the task is at hand.


Internal Usage in humans: Cooking with the herb: “Although the two species of Lemongrass can almost be used interchangeably, C. citratus is more relevant for cooking. In India, it is cultivated as a medical herb and for perfumes, but not used as a spice; in the rest of tropical Asia (Sri Lanka and even more Southeast Asia), it is an important culinary herb and spice.” The fresh taste of lemon grass is typical for Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. The spice is most popular in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and on the Indonesian islands. In Thailand, finely ground fresh lemon grass is added to curry pastes. Its fine fragrance goes well with poultry, fish and sea food. Vietnamese cookery, being much less spiced, makes use of lemon grass in several ways. “C. citratus or Lemongrass is an herb much used in tea blends”. — from Jeanne Rose “The Herbal Guide to Food”, p. 81.

Lemon is much used in cooking but because of the citral content of Lemongrass, it is often substituted for Lemon. In this respect, Citral is equivalent to about fifteen times its volume of oil of lemon.

7.C. citratus from the market

HERBAL USES OF LEMONGRASS: This plant is basically a tropical grass. It is used herbally in bath herbs, facial herbs, and hair rinse herbs. It is used to normalize overactive oil glands and thus is useful for both dry and oily skin for dandruff and other related skin problems. Lemongrass herb in shampoos and hair rinses is very healing to the overactive sebaceous glands. It is aromatic, astringent and cleansing. There are plenty of recipes and formulas in my Herbal Body Book that can be used for dandruff, seborrhea, greasy skin. Herbs are wonderful to be mixed with the essential oil and the hydrosol.

SCALY SCALP RINSE ~ If your symptoms are dry scalp, over-oily hair, inflamed hair roots or overactive oil glands, it is possible that your synthetic diet and stressful life may be the cause. The cure can be as simple as a Lemongrass herbal rinse or even any of the herbal rinses for dandruff that are mentioned in The Herbal Body Book by Jeanne Rose. See pages 289-291.

OILY HAIR SHAMPOO ~ Get equal quantities of chopped Lemongrass, Lemon peel, Willow bark and Witch Hazel bark or leaves. Mix them together and store in a glass light-proof container (add a dark label to the glass to keep it light-proof). When needed take ½ oz. of the mixed herbs and bring to a boil with 1-quart of water. Turn heat off and infuse until cool enough to use. Split into 2 parts. Add half of this infusion to up to 1-oz. of your regular shampoo. Keep the balance for the hair rinse.
To Use: Now wet hair thoroughly and apply ½ of the Lemongrass shampoo and lather. Massage into the scalp. Rinse and do it again with the 2nd half of the shampoo. Rinse thoroughly and use the last of the Lemongrass infusion as a rinse for the hair. You may or may not need to use conditioner. If you need conditioner, you can use the last of the infusion with a tablespoon or your conditioner to get the right ‘feel’ to your hair.


4 drops – Lemongrass oil, either species
2 drops – Juniper CO2
1 drop – Vetivert
13 drops Olive oil or other carrier
Mix the essential oils and add to the Olive oil or other carrier of your choice such as an unscented creamy lotion. This would be dabbed on the problems areas, especially as a nighttime remedy.

Measured by weight – one formula was as follows.
Olive = 40.485
Vetivert – 27.71
Juniper CO2 – 27.67
Lemongrass 27.62
Beaker 27.54

 WHITEN AND LIGHTEN SKIN ~ A Formula by Jeanne Rose
Will help lighten the dark nether regions and elbows, knees, toes, knuckles.
You can also use up to 4% contents of hydroquinone, a substance used to lighten dark skin, Lemon juice
Herb Tea liquid – make it strong = 1-cup
Use equal quantities of the chopped fresh or dried herb. Up to 2 T. of each fresh or 1 T. dried.
………White lily root juice or chopped root – bleaches
………Lemongrass herb – vitamin A
………Chamomile herb – soothes
………Willow Bark or Wintergreen herb (natural aspirin-bleaches and exfoliates)
Make a strong infusion with the above herbs. Measure out 1 cup.
………Add Witch hazel extract – ¼ cup or 25% of total. You now have 1 ¼ cups.
………Add ¼ cup Flax seed oil (DHA) = 1 ½ cups
To 1.5 cups of liquid (water and oil), add ¼ cup Lemon juice (you may want to choose between this and hydroquinone).
……..Add 5 drops Lemongrass essential oil and 5 drops Rosemary oil
You can now add the hydroquinone or whatever you can find that bleaches best.

Application: apply to the area at least twice a day with a cotton ball. The herb tea liquid will last about 3-days in the refrigerator and then has to be remade. Apply 10-days on and leave off 10 days.

Natural Life: Eat the correct foods that contain DHA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is found in cold water fatty fish and fish oil supplements, along with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Vegetarian sources of DHA come from seaweed. DHA is essential for the proper functioning of our brains as adults, and for the development of our nervous system and visual abilities during the first 6 months of life. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are part of a healthy diet that helps lower risk of heart disease. Our bodies naturally produce small amounts of DHA, but we must get the amounts we need from our diet or supplements. Most people in the Western world do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.


Toxicity: Lemongrass can be very irritating, it is best to use in moderation and always diluted. Personally, I would not use this oil on babies, children or the elderly. Do not diffuse without diluting with other high-alcohol essential oils such as Lavender.

            The internet states that “It is POSSIBLY SAFE applied to the skin short-term for medicinal purposes. However, there have been some toxic side effects, such as lung problems after inhaling lemongrass and a fatal poisoning after a child swallowed a lemongrass oil-based insect repellent.”


SAFETY PRECAUTIONS: When used externally in moderation and with other essential oils and a carrier it is non-toxic and non-irritating. Do not diffuse or use for children.

Precautions: General Precautions for Essential Oils.

As with all essential oils, do not use undiluted, do not use directly in eyes or on mucus membranes. Do not take internally unless advised by a qualified and expert practitioner. Keep away from children.


Patch Test:  If applying a new essential oil to your skin always perform a patch test to the inner arm (after you have diluted the EO in a vegetable carrier oil).

                  Wash an area of your forearm about the size of a quarter and dry carefully. Apply a diluted drop (1 drop EO + 1 drop carrier) to the area. Then apply a loose Band-Aid and wait 24 hours. If there is no reaction then go ahead and use the oil in your formulas. —The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations, p. 64


Science Abstracts:



            Many years ago, when I first became interested in phytotherapy, this herb was extremely difficult to get, and sold for over $15.00 per pound. Now, of course, the price has been drastically reduced and the plant is easily available in the herb store as well as on the grocery store shelves.  It is used in fish cookery, herbal vinegars and salad dressings, and wherever a robust Lemon flavor is desired.  Lemongrass oil is extracted for its high Vitamin A contents; most vegetarian capsules of vitamin A are composed of this oil less the irritating principle.

Many times, I have opened a bottle of the essential oil only to be bitten on the nose by its high level of citral contained in the oil. This is good for herpes sores on the nose and lips but it does ‘bite hard’ while it heals.

Lemongrass has never been a favorite although now with the lowered intensity of the oil, I am more favorable to using it. Over the years, I have noticed that the essential oil is less intense both in color and in scent. I prefer the scent of West Indian Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus, to the C. flexuosus and will use it whenever I can get it.



Guenther, Ernest. The Essential Oils. Published by Krieger.
Journal of Essential Oil Research,
Mabberley, D. J. Mabberley’s Plant-Book. 3rd edition 2008, reprinted with corrections 2014.
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils and Hydrosols.
Rose, Jeanne. The Aromatherapy Book, Applications & Inhalations.
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Body Book. Frog, Ltd. Berkeley, CA. 1990
Rose, Jeanne. The Herbal Guide to Food. North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA. p. 81
Sonali Sinha, Manivannan Jothiramajayam, Manosij Ghosh, Anita Mukherjee Food and Chemical Toxicology Volume 68, June 2014, Pages 71–77, Evaluation of toxicity of essential oils Palmarosa, citronella, —————-lemongrass and vetiver in human lymphocytes
DISCLAIMER:  This work is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for accurate diagnosis and treatment by a qualified health care professional. Dosages are often not given, as that is a matter between you and your health care provider. The author is neither a chemist nor a medical doctor.  The content herein is the product of research and some personal and practical experience. Institute of Aromatic & Herbal Studies – Jeanne Rose©
This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.




Please refer to my blog for the profiles of these grasses.

Chrysopogon zizanioides is commonly known as Vetiver, a bunch grass whose roots are used.
Vetiveria) zizanioides) Vetivert (Chrysopogon zizanioides)

Cymbopogon citratus West Indian Lemongrass;

Cymbopogon flexuosus is East Indian Lemongrass

Cymbopogon martini var. motia is Palmarosa grass, syn. Andropogon martini or Cymbopogon martinii.

Cymbopogon martinii var. sofia is Gingergrass

Cymbopogon nardus is Citronella grass.

Photo Courtesy of Institute of Holistic Phyto-Aromatherapy ~ Reta Parker and Lemongrass


A spray with Lemongrass hydrosol
Will make you feel good and feel tall
It will act on your skin
And will heal your sore chin
And heal anything short of a fall…JeanneRose2014



~ JR ~