Common Name: Petitgrain
Scientific Name: Citrus aurantium
Origin: China and north-eastern India, France, Italy, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, West Africa and Paraguay
Synonyms: Citrus bigarade, petitgrain bigarade
Essential Oil Properties and Characteristics
Petitgrain bigarade oil is a pale-yellow or amber-coloured liquid of pleasant, fresh-floral, sweet odour, reminiscent of orange flowers with a slightly woody-herbaceous undertone and very faint but sweet-floral dry-out. Petitgrain Paraguay is very similar to petitgrain bigarade oil. However, its top note is slightly harsh, quickly giving way to heavy and sweet body note of a typical petitgrain character.
Origin and History
Petitgrain oil is produced from the leaves of the bitter orange. It is an evergreen tree with long but not very sharp spines and very fragrant flowers. It is native of southern China and north-eastern India.
The word petitgrain is derived from the French word 'little seed', referring to the small unripe fruits from which the oil was originally obtained. The name was retained when the leaves when the leaves ands twigs became the main source. Oils obtained from the leaves of other citrus species such as lemon, bergamot and mandarin may also be labelled petitgrain.
Most of the petitgrain oil available today comes from Paraguay. The plant was introduced to Paraguay in the 18th Century by Spanish Jesuits. Petitgrain is an important raw material for perfumery, especially for Eau de Cologne and for scenting soaps.
Method of Extraction
Petitgrain is steam-distilled from the leaves of Citrus aurantium.
Precautions During Use (Contraindications)
Petitgrain essential oil is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitising.
Petitgrain essential oil is relaxing and refreshing, although it can be soothing, depending on which combination of essential oils it is blended with. It can help with problem skin, everyday stresses and strains and is often used to promote a restful night. It has a citrus and floral aroma.
Petitgrain essential oil blends well with orange, neroli, geranium, chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot, lemon, clary sage, rosemary, lavender, jasmin and juniper berry.
Source: Battaglia, S. The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy, Second Edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, 2003, ISBN 0-6464-2896-9