Réunion Island is not only known for its famous volcano and nature, but also for the know-how of its inhabitants.
There, they grow two aromatic crops for which the country is famous: vanilla and the rose geranium.The latter was first discovered in the area of Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Nowadays the crop is grown all over the planet.
The rose geranium was introduced in Réunion Island around 1870. Its cultivation and distillation were improved upon mainly by a farmer of Plaine des Cafres named Boisjoly Poitier, so that the extraction of its essential oils might take the place of sugar cane cultivation when France started making sugar from beetroots.
Ever since, Réunion Island is known all over the world for the production of rose geranium essential oils: the Géranium Bourbon, the controlled designation of origin for rose geranium essential oils from Réunion Island has a better concentration of geraniol, the essential component of the perfume.
To obtain half a liter of Géranium Bourbon essential oils, 400 kilograms of leaves and stems must be distilled inside a still heated with wood fire. These essential oils are prized in perfume manufacturing, in the pharmaceutical industry, in aromatherapy, in cosmetics and in soap manufacturing. Rose geranium essential oils have many useful medicinal properties too: it is cicatrisant, cytophylactic, diuretic, deodorant, anti-depressant, antiseptic, astringent, haemostatic, styptic, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary.
Unfortunately, with the advent of globalization, the culture of rose geranium has become less and less profitable for the farmers of Réunion Island. Thus, the manufacturing of the best rose geranium essential oil is in danger of extinction.
During your holidays in a hotel of Réunion Island, maybe you will have the opportunity to get a taste of the meals and desserts that are flavored with geranium, like jams and spreads…