Palmarosa-A Grassy Surprise

Seemingly just a pretty grass, Palmarosa comes as a surprisingly healing grassy bush. The plant is valued both for its herb and oil. Palmarosa Cymbopogon martinii var. motia or martini is part of the plant family Poaceae (Gramineae).

The essential oil is distilled from the leaves of the plant. The key constituents (chemical components within the oil) are geraniol at typically 74.5-81.0%, geranyl acetate 0.5-10.7%, (EZ)-farnesol 0.5-6.1%, linalool at 2.6-4.5% and then various other components with lower percentages. The total makeup, even the minor constituents, play a part in the overall therapeutic action of the oil. There is a low risk of skin sensitization. In the 2nd Edition of Essential Oil Safety book by Robert Tisserand, based on a maximum of 81% content of the chemical component Geraniol, recommends the maximum adult recommendation of 6.5%. The components and percentages of oils can be found on the GC/MS analysis reports and are important in choosing an oil. This is especially important with Palmarosa since this may dictate the maximum safety zone to avoid irritation. That said, i you're unsure of the percentages of geraniol within the oil, Tisserand recommends the following maximum dilution rates to avoid irritation to the skin:

no use prior to 3 months old, for ages 3-24 months old, maximum of 0.5%; for 2-6 years old, 2%; 6-15 years old, maximum of 3%; 15 years old and over, maximum of 5% and those pregnant, no more than 2%. 9 drops of essential oil to 30 ml (one ounce) of carrier oil would be equivalent to 1%.

*For further resources, safety information, classes and more, you can visit Dr. Robert Tisserand’s website at*

Because of the effects of citral and geraniol in that they inhibit CYP2B6 drugs, there is a theoretical risk with Palmarosa for those that take these drugs if using this oil orally. We do not recommend this with any oil without consulting one trained in the ingestion of essential oils. (1)

Palmarosa is often adulterated with its close relative the Ginger grass plant. Salvatore Battaglia stated, “Turpentine and citronella oil are often used with synthetic geraniol to adulterate Palmarosa. Palma