Have you ever stopped and wondered where your essential oils come from – really? Most people know that the oils are derived from plants, but they do not know that the oils come from specialized cells within the plant. It’s a common misconception that essential oils come from rocks or animals.
Here’s a better explanation: Plant cells produce the essential oil near specialized glands. These glands then gather and store the oil, where it is secreted as needed. Essential oils are very complex in their composition. In fact, they may consist of hundreds of different chemical components. Some plants, like eucalyptus leaves and lemons, produce oil in abundance, while others, like rose and jasmine, produce very little oil.
Every plant has special epidermal cells that create their glands. These are referred to as “glandular trichromes”. They are secretory in nature and can be found in almost all plants. The exact location of these glands depends on the particular plant. The glands may be found in roots, wood, leaves, petals, berries, flowers, and peels. It also depends on how the plant naturally uses the oil.
Plants produce essential oils for many different reasons. For some, the oils are simply a metabolic byproduct. Others use it as a defense mechanism against predators, while still others use their oils as a pheromone agent to attract pollinating insects or other flowers.
You may be wondering why you should know all of this. It isn’t so much that you need to know the cellular structure of an exact plant that produces essential oil. Rather, it’s important for you to know which part of the plant (e.g. the stem, leaf, flower, etc.) that was used to make the oil. This is helpful for knowing the various uses for a specific essential oil.
Just knowing a plant’s specific species won’t tell you much information about the essential oil that particular plant produces. The plant known as Citrus Aurantium is a good example. Essential oil from this plant can be derived from its stem, flowering blossoms, and the fruit peel. The essential oil produced by each different part of the plant has its own unique chemical footprint. However, you wouldn’t be able to tell all of that just by knowing the species.
When you are buying essential oils, you need to know a good bit of information about the plant itself. Make sure that you do your research. Make sure that you know which part of the plant the essential oil was distilled from. Remember that each oil from a plant will smell differently from one another, and each will have its own distinct properties and uses.