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Aroma Science

Species For Oil Production for Jasmine Oil

Two species of the jasmine plant are most commonly employed in the production of jasmine oil. Thus, Jasminum officinale var.gradiflorum , and Jasminum sambac are most commonly cultivated by those who grow jasmine for the purpose of turning the flower into an oil to be used by consumers. Interestingly, there is some debate as to whether Jasminum grandiflorum is its own true species, or whether it exists as a variety of Jasminum officinale. In any case the horticulture trade recognizes a difference and at one time Jasminum officinale was grafted from Jasminum grandiflorum in order to create a hardier, more adaptable version of the plant that could be grown in a wider variety of climates. However, both are identical in their botany, and the names are often used interchangeably in oil form and various other applications.

Jasminum officinale var. gradiflorum (aka Jasminum grandiflorum)

Arguably the most ubiquitous of the jasmine family, indicated by its nickname ‘common jasmine’ and likely due to its notable, seductively sweet fragrance, this deciduous vine species is native to many areas, including India, Nepal, the Caucasus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Himalayas, Tajikistan, and western China.  However, its exact country of origin is unknown. Because of its ease and quickness in growing, this variety is now grown in many areas of the world including France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, parts of the United States, and the West Indies. (RHS A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136.)

Jasminum grandiflorum (as it is called in the horticulture trade), while it is considered to be a variety of of Jasminum officinale has long been considered a distinct plant especially in the horticultural trade and it has an intoxicating fragrance that is sweet, ethereal, and light, fading to an almost fruity aroma. Common names for Jasminum grandiflorum include royal jasmine, Spanish or Catalonian jasmine, or simply jati. This variety is thought to be native to areas of the world including the Arabian Peninsula, specifically the current regions of Kashmir, Iran, and Afghanistan, southeast Africa, India, southern Asia, and eastern China. However, this species enjoys wide popularity due to its ease in growing and is now naturalized to many areas of the world including the Philippines, the West Indies, the Cook Islands, the Mediterranean basin, and Central America.

The Jasminum grandiflorum variety of jasmine has the traditional vine appearance, similar to Jasminum officinale, although it is technically labeled a scrambling, nearly erect shrub that can grow up to 10-15 meters (30-45 feet) high. The plant has white flowers with a pink-purple tinge to the outside of the petals that are described as ‘powerfully fragrant’, and black berries. Jasminum grandiflorum is a semi-deciduous/evergreen species with long, opposite, pinnate leaves that blooms its sumptuous pinkish-white flowers during the summer, typically from June-October (source). This variety enjoys full sun and well-drained, loamy soil with a fairly neutral pH and will overwinter to temperatures as low as 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit. Due to Jasminum grandiflorum being a cultivar of Jasminum officinale, it has a very similar chemical constituent breakdown.

With a plethora of nicknames, including true jasmine, summer jasmine, poet’s jasmine, white jasmine, French perfume jasmine, chameli, and jessamine, this species differs from other jasmines in that it displays double, starry, pure white flower blossoms on double stems that bloom in the summer. (source) Typically, 3-5 flowers adorn each cluster. The vines, with dark green, shining leaves, tend to extend up to 10 meters (30 feet) high and reach 1-3 meters (3-9 feet) in width. As is typical of the Jasminum species, this variety enjoys moist, well-drained, loamy soil and full sun to partial shade. (sourceJasminum officinale can be grown in gardens in many areas of the world that have temperate climates, and can tolerate colder temperatures than other species of jasmine as it tends to be a hardier plant that can often propagate and grow in the wild.

A typical gas chromatography breakdown of the chemical constituents of Jasminum officinale var. gradiflorum flowers includes:

  • Benzyl acetate: 15-24.5%
  • Benzyl benzoate: 8-20%
  • Phytol: 7-12.5%
  • Squalene 2,3-oxide: 5.8-12%
  • Isophytol: 5-8%
  • Phytyl acetate: 3.5-7%
  • Linalool: 3-6.5%
  • Squalene: 2.5-6%
  • Geranyl linalool: 2.5-5%
  • Indole: 0.7-3.5%
  • (Z)-Jasmone: 1.5-3.3%
  • Eugenol: 1.1-3%
  • (Z)-Methyl jasmonate: 0.2-1.3%
  • Jasmolactone: 0.3-1.2%
  • Methyl benzoate: 0.2-1.0%

(Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety. New York, NY: Elsevier)

Jasminum Sambac

Jasminum sambac stands out from the other jasmine species used in the production of jasmine oil in that this species is smaller than most, and everblooming. In Hawaii, this species of jasmine is referred to as ‘Pikake,’ pronounced pea-cock-ay. The term was coined by the Princess Kaiulani who was reportedly enamored with peacocks. (source) Other common names for Jasminum sambac include Arabian jasmine, Mogra (Hindi), Kampupot, Melati (Malay and Indonesian Language), Sampaguita (Tagalog), and Mallipu (Tamil) (source) This species has a number of cultivars, including Maid of Orleans, Belle of India, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and Mysore Mulli.

Interestingly, the Arabian jasmine is not from the area typically thought to include ancient Arabia. Rather, it is thought to originate from the eastern Himalayas, (including the current regions of Bhutan, India), the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and southeast Asia. However, it is now grown widely throughout many areas of the globe in regions that enjoy warm, tropical climates, including Mauritius, Madagascar, the Maldives, Cambodia, Java, Christmas Island, Chiapas, Central America, southern Florida, the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and the Lesser Antilles.  (Sanchez, Jr., F. C., Santiago, D. & Khe, C. P. (2020). (source). J. ISSAAS (International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences) 16 (2): 126–136.).

The small, dwarf shrub typically only grows to a maximum height of one half to three meters (1.5-9 feet). The evergreen leaves are a simple glabrous shape, rather than pinnate like most other jasmines. At the end of each branch lies 3-12 flower blossoms that tend to grow in clusters, and dark purple berries one centimeter in diameter. Jasminum sambac is a true night bloomer, as the everblooming flower buds typically open between 7-11 pm and don’t close until the early morning hours. (Sanchez, Jr., F. C., Santiago, D. & Khe, C. P. (2020). (source). J. ISSAAS (International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences) 16 (2): 126–136)

Gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy shows that the key constituents of Jasminum sambac include:

  • α- farnesene: 18.4%
  • Indole: 14.1%
  • Linalool: 13.9%
  • Methyl anthranilate: 5.5%
  • Benzyl acetate: 4.3%
  • Methyl benzoate: 2.6%
  • 2-Phenylethanol: 2.4%
  • (3z)-Hexen-1-yl benzoate: 2.3%
  • Methyl palmitate: 2.3%
  • Benzyl alcohol: 1.3%

(Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety. New York, NY: Elsevier)