Rose cabbage is a member of the Rosaceae family and is referred to in different regions as rose Maroc, Povence rose, French rose, hundred-leaved rose, French otto of rose oil, Moroccan otto of rose oil, or rose de mai. It is a hybrid plant between a pink rose and a dark red rose (R. centifolia and R. gallica respectively). Rose de mai grows up to 2.5 meters and yields many flowers with huge pink or rosy-purplish petals. The two available subspecies differ in the number of spines- one is spinier.

The cultivated rose is believed to have originated from ancient Persia and now grows wild in Tunisia, Morocco, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, China, and Yugoslavia. The oil, concrete, and absolute production mainly occurs in Morocco and the absolute in China, France, and Italy.

Extraction and Characteristics

Essential oil/otto is obtained from the fresh petals using steam distillation hence generating rose water as a byproduct. The concrete and absolute are also obtained from the fresh petals by solvent extraction. The oil has a pale-yellow appearance with a warm, sweet, rosy-fluorescent, tenacious scent. On the other hand, the absolute is a viscous liquid and appears to be reddish-orange with a warm, abundant, sweet, rosy-spicy fragrance. It goes well with cassie, mimosa, jasmine, orange blossom, bergamot, geranium, clary sage, lavender, patchouli, sandalwood, guaiacwood, benzoin, Peru balsam, clove, palmarosa, and chamomile.

Traditional Applications

In ancient times, roses were highly valued for their medicinal properties and are still used in Eastern medicine. They were used to treat various conditions including menstrual disorders, digestive complaints, nervous tension, headaches, poor circulation, liver congestion, fever, and skin complaints, and eye infections. Rose is traditionally associated with the goddess of love and beauty (Venus) and a large component is found in women’s perfumes. French/Moroccan rose has narcotic properties and is used as an aphrodisiac.

Uses of the oil

Industrially, the oil is used as an antiseptic, antidepressant, antispasmodic, antiphlogistic, liver, stomach, uterine tonic, stomachic, nervous sedative, emmenagogue, depurative, choleretic, cicatrisant, astringent, bactericidal, antiviral, anti-tubercular agent, laxative, hemostatic, aphrodisiac, hepatic and appetite regulator.

In aromatherapy, the oil is used to treat various skin conditions, palpitations, asthma, coughs, liver congestion, cholecystitis, nausea, leucorrhea, uterine disorders, menorrhagia, depression, insomnia, impotence headache, and stress-related conditions.

The concrete and absolute are widely employed in cosmetics, soaps, toiletries, and all types of perfumes. Rose water is utilized as a household culinary (particularly in Persian cookery) and cosmetic agent. The oil is also used as a flavoring agent in some food products, especially fruits and also tobacco.

Safety Information

The oil is non-toxic, non-irritant, and also non-sensitizing.