- Siberian fir Needle
- Exotic Verbena
- True Lavender
Siberian fir Needle (Abies Sibirica)
Siberian Fir essence boasts an evocative scent, reminiscent of Christmas trees and bracing winter nights. The oil originates from the forested banks of the River Volga and the densely wooded Siberian taiga where, for centuries, it was used by native wise women in a traditional balm to soothe aching limbs and minor wounds. Shamans venerated the tree as the tutelary Spirit of the Forest, a link between Earth and Heaven, a sustainer of life and a source of cosmic energies.
Lavandin (Lavandula Hybrida)
This is a naturally occurring or cultivated modern hybrid of true and spike lavenders. A larger plant than true lavender, lavandin produces a stronger-scented, more abundant, and richer oil which makes it invaluable in the perfume industry. Lavandin’s aromatherapeutic properties are similar to those of its botanical parents, although the addition of camphor to its chemistry gives the intensity and fresh sharpness of its natural fragrance more muscular, botanical notes.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
Revered in Aboriginal dreamtime folklore, the indigenous Australian blue gum was first brought to Europe in 1771 by the naturalist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks. Sailing with Captain Cook to observe the Transit of Venus in the South Pacific, Banks, as the expedition’s resident botanist, marvelled at the eucalyptus tree not only for its elegant eerie beauty but for its folkloric properties as nature’s own best-stocked pharmacy. The leaves and tender shoots of this easily sustainable quick-growing tree yield an intensely aromatic oil with a characteristic soothing effect on the airways.
Lemon (Citrus Limonum)
The stimulating, mood-enhancing properties of lemon oil have made it a favourite of apothecaries for millennia. As with the lime, the lemon’s name derives from the Arabic word “limah”. Lemons and lemon trees came to the west from Asia with the early medieval Arab invasions of Europe in the eighth century, hence their extensive cultivation in Spain from whence Columbus exported seeds of the fruit to America. Sometimes used in classical religious paintings as a symbol of faith, the lemon was so prized in Tudor England that a single costly fruit provided the centrepiece of Anne Boleyn’s coronation banquet.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis)
Like juniper, rosemary has a very ancient history. Its beautiful name means “the dew of the sea”, as the leaves and flowers of this wonderful herb glow with all the colours of the ocean and the plant thrives in salty marine air. Sacred to the ancient Greeks and Romans, rosemary was celebrated in De Materia Medica – the earliest recorded pharmacopoeia, written in 50AD – for its soothing and warming. Rosemary also played a key role in one of the earliest known western perfumes, Queen of Hungary Water, first formulated in the 1380s. Medieval folk believed it was a powerful repellent of demons, evil spirits and witches, while Shakespeare’s Ophelia even praised it as an aide to improving memory.
Exotic Verbena (Litsea Cubeba)
Also known as May Chang, this deliciously scented oil is well known to perfumers as well as herbalists. Native to south China and other south-east Asian countries, Litsea Cubeba belongs to the laurel family and yields a fresh herbal odour, with notes of citrus and coriander. The oil derives from the dried cubebs (pepper-like fruits) and has for centuries been revered in indigenous Taiwanese culture for its tonic effect on mind and body, lifting the spirits and promoting relaxation and restful sleep.
True Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Lavender is one of the very few plants we all know and recognise from infancy. Native to the Mediterranean, this modest but powerful ancient herb thrives on sun and dry poor soil. The Romans named it from the verb “lavare” – to wash. They cleansed their bodies with the fragrant oil yielded by the blossoms, and packed their heavy woollen togas in layers of the dried flowers and leaves to repel moths. The scent of lavender is virile and energising, clean, uplifting, and calming, and is traditionally valued as an aid to mental tranquility and restful sleep.
Lime (Citrus Aurantifolia)
Like the lemon, lime is a natural anti-scorbutic formerly prized in the British Navy as an essential source of vitamins, providing vital relief from an enervating diet of salt meat and wormy biscuit. The costliness of pure lime oil added to its reputation, and it was highly prized by herbalists in the court of Louis XIV, who treated his mother, Anne of Austria. The strength and pungency of limes is increased by the heat of the sun: – the fruit is sharper and more intense the nearer it grows to the equator, yielding a zesty scent renowned for its invigorating properties.
Juniper (Juniperus Communis)
Famous for its magical and symbolic appearances in myths and fairy tales, from its ancient associations as symbol of the fertility goddess Ashera, to the stories of the Brothers Grimm. Every part of the Juniper tree yields a fragrant woody oil which is kind to a weakened respiratory system. Juniper grows widely all over the northern hemisphere: you may even have a tree in your garden – a homely link to the religious rites of Ancient Egypt when the oil was burned before the old gods as an essential ingredient of the sacred khyphi incense.
Geranium (Pelargonium Graveolens)
The flowering scented plant was first brought to Europe from its native South Africa over 300 years ago. The rose geranium is a member of the pelargonium family, its name derived from the Greek ‘pelargos’, meaning ‘crane’, due to the seed pods’ remarkable resemblance to the bill of this giant bird. Though there are over 700 varieties of rose geranium, less than a dozen yield sufficient oil to make extraction worthwhile, although its uplifting, enervating aroma makes sourcing it well worth the effort.