Part 2: Harvesting—Plant Part

It is also critical that only the correct part of the plant be used for distilling essential oils. Although essential oils are produced by many parts of the plant, different plant parts produce essential oils in varying amounts and compositions. Sometimes, the essential oil derived from different parts of the same plant can even have an entirely different chemical make-up. For example, Coriandrum sativum can produce two different essential oils: cilantro from the leaves and coriander from the seeds. Delaquis et al. (2002) showed the cleansing properties and chemical differences between cilantro and coriander essential oils.

Expert testing has determined which plant parts produce the optimal quality of essential oil. Some plants are distilled whole, while others are distilled from only certain parts of the plant. For instance, peppermint essential oil is gently distilled from the whole plant while helichrysum essential oil comes only from the flowering tops. Below is a table of some common essential oils and the plant part from which they are distilled.


Essential Oil  Scientific Name  Plant Part 
Basil  Ocimum basilicum  Leaf 
Bergamot  Citrus bergamia  Peel 
Birch  Bertula lenta  Bark 
Black Pepper  Piper nigrum  Seed
Cassia  Cinnamonum cassia  Bark
Cedarwood  Juniperus virginiana  Wood 
Cilantro  Coriandrum sativum  Leaf, Herb 
Cinnamon  Cinnamomum zeylanicum  Bark 
Clary Sage  Salvia sclarea  Flower 
Clove Bud  Eugenia caryophyllata  Bud 
Coriander  Coriandrum sativum  Seed 
Cypress  Cupressus sempervirens  Leaf 
Eucalyptus  Eucalyptus radiata  Leaf
Fennel  Foeniculum vulgare  Seed 
Frankincense  Boswellia carterii, frereana, and sacra  Resin 
Geranium  Pelargonium graveolens  Whole Plant 
Ginger  Zingiber officinale  Root 
Grapefruit  Citrus X paradisi  Peel 
Helichrysum  Helichrysum italicum  Flower 
Juniper Berry  Juniperus communis  Berry 
Lavender  Lavandula angustifolia  Flower 
Lemon  Citrus limon  Peel 
Lemongrass  Cymbopogan flexuosus  Leaf 
Lime  Citrus aurantifolia  Peel 
Marjoram Origanum majorana Flower, Leaf
Melaleuca  Melaleuca alternifolia  Leaf 
Melissa Melissa officinalis Flower, Leaf 
Myrrh  Commiphora myrrha  Gum Resin 
Oregano  Origanum vulgare  Leaf 
Patchouli  Pogostemon cablin  Leaf
Peppermint Mentha piperita Whole Plant 
Roman Chamomile  Anthemis nobilis  Flower 
Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis Flower, Leaf 
Sandalwood  Santalum album  Wood 
Thyme  Thymus vulgaris  Herb 
Vetiver  Vetiveria zizanoides  Root 
Wild Orange  Citrus sinensis  Peel 
Wintergreen Gaultheria fragrantissima  Leaf 
Ylang Ylang  Cananga odorata  Flower 


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