Palmarosa Oil Guide - Benefits, Properties, Characteristics & Composition


Palmarosa oil is extracted from the plant of the Cymbopogon martini var. motia species in the Cymbopogon (lemongrass) genus family. It belongs to the same family as of lemongrass and citronella. Palmarosa is native to India and is now grown across many parts of the world – Java, Nepal, Madagascar, Brazil, Guatemala and Honduras. It is widely used for perfumes and cosmetics around the world.


palmarosa plant


Palmarosa grass is also known as Andropogon martini, Indian geranium, East Indian geranium, rosha, rosha grass, Turkish geranium and Motia.

Difference Between Palmarosa and Ginger Grass Oil

Palmarosa and ginger grass oils are closely related. Ginger grass oil is a chemotype of the palmarosa and is extracted from Cymbopogon martini var. sofia, while palmarosa oil is extracted from Cymbopogon martini var. motia.  

It is difficult to differentiate between the two grasses morphologically.

However, difference between these two varieties becomes apparent in the composition of their volatile oils. Ginger grass oil has lower content of geraniol, up to 65%, in comparison to palmarosa oil, which has geraniol content of up to 85%.  Ginger grass is considered an inferior oil.

Palmarosa Plant Description

Palmarosa is a drought resistant grass that may grow up to a height of 1.5 to 2.5m. It has hairy and fibrous shallow root system with long linear lanceolate leaves. It produces large fawn coloured inflorescence containing while, hairy star like spiked flowers.

Palmarosa grass grows slowly and takes around three months to flower. It is harvested after onset of the flowering season. It is recommended to harvest the crop 7-10 days after opening of flowers. The harvested herbage is spread in the field for 4-6 hours to reduce its moisture by 50% and such semi-dry produce can be stacked in shady cool space for few days without much loss of its oil.

The best locations for growing and distilling palmarosa essential oil are Nepal, India and Indonesia.

Extraction of Palmarosa Oil

After harvesting, the grass may be dried for about a week’s time and then steam distilled to extract oil. The yield of palmarosa oil is high – around 1% to 2% – means 50–100 kg of the grass yield around 1 kg of oil.

The best season for harvesting and extraction is from April to May and September to December.

Adulteration of Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil is usually not adulterated because of its high yield and low price. However, palmarosa oil may still be stretched with synthetic geraniol. In addition, sometimes ginger grass may be added to palmarosa grass during the distillation.

Characteristics of Palmarosa Oil

Name: Palmarosa Oil
Botanical Name: Cymbopogon martini
Family: Poaceae (Gramineae)
Genus: Cymbopogon
Colour: Pale Yellow to Vivid Yellow
Aroma: Floral, rosy, sweet, fresh, and woody
Note: Middle to top note

Composition of Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil is rich in geraniol, a compound known for its rose like scent.

Component Maximum (%) Minimum (%)
Geraniol 74 94
Geranyl acetate 5-11
Linalool 2-4
Limonene Traces-0.5
Farnesol 0.3-1.5

Other compounds present in palmarosa oil are nerol, nerolidol, hxadecanol, sesquiterpenol elemol and sesquiterpenes (including caryophyllene, elemene, humulene).   

Blending of Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil blends well with bergamot, geranium, lavender, lime, orange, rose, rosewood, cedarwood and ylang-ylang oils.

Properties of Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil is found to have antiseptic, antifungal, febrifuge, stimulant (digestive, circulatory, cardiac), analgesic, antianxiety, antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, calmative, cooling and skin nourishing properties.

Palmarosa oil has effective bactericidal properties due to high linalool and geraniol content and is useful in eradicating a wide spectrum of germs including thrush (Candida albicans) and E. coli.

Usages of Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil is widely used in cosmetics and personal care products, soaps, perfumery, incense, candles and aromatherapy.

Perfumery: Palmarosa oil is used in soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, colognes and diffusers due to its sweet floral, rose, geraniol like odour. It is used as an excellent extender in floral, rose like perfume compounds.

Flavoring Agent: Palmarosa oil is used as a flavoring agent mostly in tobacco products.

Insect Repellent: Palmarosa oil is considered an effective plant based mosquitoes and insect repellent due to presence of geraniol.

Aromatherapy: Palmarosa oil is used in aromatherapy to provide relief from stress, exhaustion and anxiety due to its balancing properties.

In addition, palmarosa oil is used for its skin-regenerative and tissue healing capacity in skin care and is used to treat skin problems like dry skin, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.

For skin problem treatment, palmarosa oil scores over lavender with its superior emollient quality that is especially useful for treating dry, irritated skin conditions.

Natural source of geraniol and nerol: Palmarosa oil is used as a natural source of nerol. Some other oils that are rich in nerol are rose, citronella and davana oils. Palmarosa oil is los used for the isolation of natural geraniol.  

Palmarosa Oil - Infographics

How to Use Palmarosa Oil

  • If your skin is injured, add a drop of palmarosa to the water when washing.
  • For dry skin, when using palmarosa you should use avocado as your carrier oil.
  • Blend a drop into your facial serum or cream, or with a biocompatible facial oil such as jojoba or avocado to hydrate dry skin and to minimize age lines.
  • Palmarosa can be applied topically, as a compress, in the bath, through direct inhalation, or diffuser.
  • Add a few drops of palmarosa with lavender to your diffuser or direct palm inhalation to reduce stress and rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit.
  • Add 3-4 drops to bath water to promote balance and enhance relaxation.
  • For use in diffuser, put 2–5 drops in water.
  • For use as massage oil, use a dilution of 2-5% in vegetable oil.
  • Dispense 1 to 3 drops of palmarosa oil on a cotton ball or smell strip, close your eyes and inhale.

Safety with Palmarosa Oil

Palmarosa oil is non-toxic, non-irritant and non-sensitizing. There are currently no known safety issues with this oil. However, it is better to conduct a skin patch test before use on people especially sensitive to geraniol-containing essential oils.

Do NOT take palmarosa oil internally.

Consult your healthcare provider if you’re pregnant, nursing, taking medications, or being treated for other health challenges. Dilute with a carrier oil before each use. Keep out of reach of children.


The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only, it is not intended to treat, cure, prevent or, diagnose any disease or condition. Nor is it intended to prescribe in any way. This information is for educational purposes only and may not be complete, nor may its data be accurate.


Kymberly Keniston-Pond. “Essential Oils 101.”

KG Stiles. “The Essential Oils Complete Reference Guide.”


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