Cymbopogon martinii


Applied to the skin or through massage


Orale Route

Inhalation or Diffusion

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii) is a large herbaceous plant belonging, like citronella, to the Poaceae family. It is native to India and Nepal. 


When crumpled, its long and narrow leaves release a fragrance similar to that of roses. Its flowers, arranged in plumes, are similar to those of geranium.

Relatively uncommon until recently in Western phytotherapy, even though it unquestionably belongs to the healing plant category, palmarosa was long used virtually exclusively for fraudulent reasons. Indeed, its essential oil was sent over land to Western Europe from Bombay. On passing through Bulgaria, thanks to its soft and fine odour, similar to that of the queen of flowers, it was used to cut, and hence to counterfeit the local production of essential oil of roses (Rosa damascena), also called "Bulgarian roses", by introducing a much less expensive element. Times have fortunately changed, even though a few unscrupulous suppliers here and there are tempted by the substitution. We must therefore remain vigilant! For thousands of years, palmarosa has played an important role in Indian traditional medicine (Ayurveda), in which it is appreciated for its tonic and healing virtues.

Cultivation and production

Palmarosa is grown in India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil, Madagascar and the Comoros. It has been distilled since the 18th century in India and Turkey.


The odour of essential oil of palmarosa is soft and floral. It is reminiscent of rose, with notes of dry grass and pine.

Extraction and yield 

Essential oil of palmarosa is obtained by steam distillation of fresh or dried leaves. Yield varies between 0.5% and 1.25%, i.e. five hundred grams to one kilogram of essential oil per hundred kilograms of plant.

Chemical formula 

The dominant constituents of essential oil of Cymbopognon martinii are geraniol and geranyl acetate.

Main indications 

A potent antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agent, essential oil of palmarosa has a stimulant effect on cells. It drains lymph and is effective against all skin problems, mycoses and excess perspiration.


Excerpts from the book « Aromatherapia – Tout sur les huiles essentielles », by Isabelle Pacchioni. Aroma Thera Editions.