Family • Geraniaceae - Pelargonium graveolens L'Hér - ROSE GERANIUM

Malvarosa is a small branching hairy shrub growing about a meter high. Leaves are long-petioled, palmately compound, 5- to 7-lobed or parted and fragrantly mint-scented. Flowers are many, pink or light purple on long peduncles. Calyx is hairy and almost sessile.


– Native to South Africa.
– In the Philippines, cultivated for its aromatic and ornamental foliage and for its medicinal value.

Stem cuttings.


• Essential oil contains myrcene, or beta-myrcene, an olefinic monoterpene which is used in traditional and commercial repellent preparations. (Source)
• Yields citronellol, linalool, isomenthone, geraniol (widely used in the pharmaceutical industry) and citronellyl formate.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Study on antioxidant activity of essential oils and its monomer from Pelargonium graveolens / Sun W et al / Zhong Yao Cai. 2005 Feb;28(2):87-9.

(2) Pelargonium graveolens – L’Hér. / Rose Geranium / Plants For A Future

(3) Antibacterial activity and composition of essential oils from Pelargonium graveolens L’Her and Vitex agnus-castus L / Ghannadi A, Bagherinejad MR2*, Abedi D, Jalali M4, Absalan B, Sadeghi N / IRAN. J. MICROBIOL. 4 (4) : 171-176

(4) Clinical evaluation of the essential oil of Pelargonium graveolens for the treatment of denture stomatitis / Ali Mohammad Sabzghabaee, Zahra Shirdare, Behnaz Ebadian, Abolfazl Aslani, and Alireza Ghannadi / Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2011 Dec; 8(Suppl1): S105–S108.

(5) Hypoglycemic and antioxidant effects of leaf essential oil of Pelargonium graveolens L’Hér. in alloxan induced diabetic rats. / Boukhris M, Bouaziz M, Feki I, Jemai H, El Feki A, Sayadi S. / Lipids Health Dis. 2012 Jun 26;11:81. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-11-81.

(6) Antimicrobial Activity of Geranium Oil against Clinical Strains of Staphylococcus aureus / Monika Bigos, Małgorzata Wasiela, Danuta Kalemba and Monika Sienkiewicz* / Molecules 2012, 17, 10276-10291 / doi:10.3390/molecules170910276

(7) Chemical Composition and In vitro Studies of the Essential Oil and Aqueous Extract of Pelargonium graveolens Growing in Jordan for Hypoglycaemic and Hypolipidemic Properties / F. U. Afifi*, V. Kasabri, R. Abu-Dahab and IM. Abaza / European Journal of Medicinal Plants, ISSN: 2231-0894 ,Vol.: 4, Issue.: 2 (February)

(8) Antioxidant properties of Pelargonium graveolens L’Her essential oil on the reproductive damage induced by deltamethrin in mice as compared to alpha-tocopherol / Ahlem Ben Slima, Manel Ben Ali, Mohamed Barkallah, Al Ibrahim Traore, Tahia Boudawara, Noureddine Allouche, Radhouane Gdoura / Lipids in Health and Disease, Mar 2013

(9) Essential Oil Compositions and Photosynthetic Pigments Content of Pelargonium graveolens in Response to Nanosilver Application / Hatami M (Ph.D.)*, Ghafarzadegan R (M.Sc.), Ghorbanpour M (Ph.D.) / Journal of Medicinal Plants, Volume 13, No. 49, Winter 2014

(10) Antifungal activity of Zataria multiflora , Pelargonium graveolens and Cuminum cyminum essential oils towards three species of Malassezia isolated from patients with pityriasis versicolor / A.R. Naeini, M. Nazeri, H. Shokri / Journal de Mycologie Médicale, Vol 21, No 2, pp 87-91 (June 2011) / Doi: 10.1016/j.mycmed.2011.01.004

(11) Potentiation of Antimicrobial Activity of Ciprofloxacin by Pelargonium graveolens Essential Oil against Selected Uropathogens / Tripti Malik, Padma Singh, Shailja Pant, Nirpendra Chauhan andHema Lohani / Phytotherapy Research, Volume 25, Issue 8, pages 1225–1228, August 2011 / DOI: 10.1002/ptr.3479

• Considered anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, sedative, anti-cancer, antioxidant, antibacterial.

Parts used
Leaves, flowers, essential oil.

Edibility / Culinary
– Flowers and leaves are edible.
– Fresh leaves as condiment or tea.
– Rose-scented leaves used as flavoring in desserts, jellies, vinegars.

– Decoction of leaves used for cough and stomach aches.
– Elsewhere used to stop bleeding, for wound healing and for antibacterial properties.
– Used for rheumatism, colitis, hepatopancreatic afflictions.
– In Tunisia, used in the treatment of hyperglycemia.

Leaf essential oil used in aromatherapy and massage for stress and skin problems. Essential oil considered to have antidepressant properties but has not been proven by clinical studies.

Mosquito repellent.
Cosmetic: Popular ingredient in cosmetic products for acne, anti-wrinkling, anti-stretch marks preparations.

Photographed at Strybing Arboretum


Study Findings
• Essential Oils / Antioxidant: Study of the essential oil and monomer of P graveolens showed antioxidant effect.
• Antibacterial Effect / Antibiotic Synergism : Study was done to verify the possible synergistic effect between P graveolens essential oil and the antibiotic Norfloxacin. The results showed the occurrence of pronounced synergism between P graveolens essential oil and Norfloxacin against three bacterial species.
• Overdose / Renal and Hepatic Effects : Study showed an overdose of geranium extract can cause liver and kidney damage and suggests careful dosing and periodic laboratory testing for renal and liver functions.
• Essential Oil / Antibacterial: Study analyzed essential oils of Pelargonium graveolens and Vitus agnus-castus for antibacterial activity. ß-citronellol is a prominent component of P. graveolens volatile oil. The essential oils yielded similar compounds: a-terpineol, citronellyl acetate, ß-caryophyllene, a-humulene and caryophyllene oxide. The essential oils were active against all of the studied bacteria except Listeria monocytogenes.
• Denture Stomatitis / Essential Oil: In a double-blind randomized clinical trial, the application of a 1% Geranium oil topical gel formulation showed to be more effective than placebo in the treatment of denture stomatitis.
• Hypoglycemic / Leaf Essential Oil: Study evaluated leaf essential oil for hypoglycemic and antioxidative properties. Results showed a hypoglycemic effect significantly more effective than that of glibenclamide, and suggests the essential oil may be helpful in the prevention of diabetic complications.
• Antibacterial Against Staph Aureus Stains / Oil: Study evaluated the antibacterial properties of geranium oil from P. graveolens against one standard S. aureus ATCC 433000 strain and 70 clinical S. aureus strains. Results showed P. graveolens has strong activity against all clinical S. aureus isolates, including multidrug resistant strains.
• Hypoglycemic / Hypolipidemic / Essential Oil: Study evaluated essential oil and aqueous leaf extract against pancreatic triacylglycerol lipase, α-amylase and α-glucosidase. Results suggest the leaves, as nutraceutical modulating gastrointestinal carbohydrate and lipid digestion and absorption, maybe advocated for obesity/diabetes/metabolic syndrome management.
• Benefits of Male Reproductive System / Hypolipidemic / Essential Oil: Study showed a positive influence of geranium essential oil in animal male reproductive system through by prevention of testicular oxidative damage induced by delmathrin in mice with improved total sperm motility, viability and morphology in mice spermatozoa.
• Benefits of Nanosilver Application on Photosynthetic Pigments: Study evaluated the potential effects of nanosilver application on variations of photosynthetic pigments (chlorophyll and carotenoids) and essential oil content and composition of P. graveolens. Results showed nanosilver application can maintain and enhance the photosynthetic pigments and essential oil content of P. graveolens.
• Antifungal / Pityriasis Versicolor: Study showed Z. multiflora, P. graveolens and C. cyminum essential oils have considerable anti-Malassezia activities, suggesting further studies for clinical applications for the treatment of pityriasis versicolor.
• Potentiation of Antimicrobial Activity of Ciprofloxacin / Essential Oil: Study evaluated the antimicrobial effect of P. graveolens essential oil in combination with ciprofloxacin on uropathogens, viz., K. pneumoniae, P. mirabilis, and S. aureus. Results showed synergism of PG essential oil with ciprofloxacin which may be applied for the treatment of urinary tract infections.

Cultivated for aromatic medicinal and ornamental uses.