The Botanical or Latin Name of an Essential Oil….. a great question!

Karen, one of Le’Esscience’s lovely Likers asked a very good question about the botanical or latin name origin for essential oils…

“Fascinated by the botanical names of essential oils and notice ones with similar names as part of their botanical name such as officinalis, nobilis, vulgaris, carteri. Do you know of a book (I could borrow from a library!) that explains what the botanical names mean or how they are derived. Nothing too heavy or intense -or perhaps you could simplify this knowledge (if that’s possible!) and do a blog post. Thanks ♥”

Part of the answer is easy, part of it is very complicated, I’ll explain the easy part and leave some links to delve into the more complicated part!

In our profession it’s important to know the botanical names of the essential oils we use (& stock) due to the fact that sometimes there will be more than variety of essential oil in the same plant family (the origins seem to be named after specific people who have crossed species of plants to form a new variety, from what I can find).

- for example: Lavender, there are over 30 species of Lavender – and it’s important you know which lavender you are working with as the chemical composition is different – Lavendula Angustifolia or Lavendula Officinalis (Lavender True) main chemical components are esters and alcohols (which break down to may include linalyl acetate, geranyl acetate, lavandulyl acetate, citral, octanon to but a few) where as Lavender Spikes main chemical components are Ketones, Alcohols, Oxides & Monoterpenes (which break down to may include similar compositions to Angustifolia but has less chemical compostions of one component and more of another ie: camphor). Therefore the healing properties can be similar BUT quite different!  For example, you wouldn’t use Lavender Spike directly on the skin for a burn as the camphor content is too high, but Lavendula Angustifolia is perfect!

This article here explains Essential Oils Botanical Classification - which is interesting and helps deal with the more complicated explanation!

I’m afraid I don’t know of a book that I can recommend Karen – and if you start googling this subject it does get ‘heavy’.

I think words like ‘nobilis’ may represent the ‘nobility’ over a plant in regards to another?

Vulgaris – Latin, meaning: common, ordinary, usual.

Carteri I only know linked to Boswelia Cateri (Frankincense) apparently the name given in honor of Scottish botanist John Boswell (1719-1780).

With the research I’ve done on this subject, it seems it can be quite a contentious subject! One has to be so careful they know they are getting what they order / want for therapeutic treatments.  Have a read of this if you like………Botanical Names for Essential Oils.

For me, I have a lot of trust in my suppliers, have formed very good relationships with them and they know I will only use 100% therapeutic grade essential oils (represented by their correct botanical name) and how important that is to my business.  My suppliers are just marvelous because if they have any concerns, they tell me straight away and if we together have any doubts, I won’t purchase plus they then question their suppliers.

At the end of the day, the results speak for themselves!  I hope this has helped Karen!

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One thought on “The Botanical or Latin Name of an Essential Oil….. a great question!

  1. You are wonderful Gillian! Thank you for explaining this to me – it’s like opening up a can of worms! Yes, it’s very complex and scientific when you scratch beneath the surface (not as simple as combining a few essential oils when used for aromatherapy purposes!). Intrigued when I see these extra bits after essential oil names – things like L, ct, var etc. and your links explain these and you’ve covered so much in such a short space and simplified it in your example of Lavender – ok, it’s not simple! But you’ve given a great explanation. You are a very wise woman – thank you!

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