Palmarosa is a perennial, fragrant grassy plant with a penetrating root system, long tender but stiff green stems and small flowers that rest atop its long extensions; they can be seen in certain seasons turning from a bluish white, to dark red. A wild and herbaceous plant, Palmarosa grows up to 9 feet tall.
The essential oil content in the bright-green leaves varies along its length, with the very highest concentration of essential oil being found in the tops of the leaves. This oil releases a fresh, grassy rose-like aroma when crushed between the fingers. In India, the grass begins to bud during the latter part of August and flowers appear during October. Wild specimens may survive for 10 or 15 years, whereas plants cultivated for the extraction of essential oil remain productive around 6 to 10 years.
Traditionally in Ayurveda it has been used both as an essential oil and dried herb. The oil is recommended for fungal infections, parasitic worms, neuralgia, low back pain, sciatica, and rheumatic pain, and the herb treats fevers, dyspepsia and colitis.
Adapted from Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit by Gabriel Mojay.