Aromatic Plants

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini var. motia)


  • Palmarosa, also known as East Indian Geranium, is a native of Indian and grows wild in the forsts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka states. Locally this grass is known as Rusha or Rosa grass.
  • The essential oil of palmarosa is used in soaps, perfumes, in scenting of tobacco and for extraction of an important aroma chemical, geraniol, palmarosa, a drought resistant, perennial, aromatic grass, grows to a height of 1.5 - 3.0 meters.
  • This crop can be grown throughout Andhra Pradesh as a rainfed crop or irrigated crop in poor and marginal soils, waste lands, black and alkaline soils (PH 9.5).

Nursery - Varieties

  • Palmarosa is propagated through seeds. The nursery is raised during May - June months
  • 2 - 3 kg seeds kept immersed in water overnight mixed with sand are sown in nursery beds in furrows 2 - 3 cm deep and rows 20 cm apart.
  • The nursery beds are irrigated daily. The seedlings (15 - 20 cm height) will be ready for plating in 30 - 40 days, in 1 hectare area.
  • Tripta, Trishna and PRC-1 are improved varieties of palmarosa suitable for cultivation in Andhra Pradesh.


  • The land is prepared well by ploughing, tilling and leveling. 10 tonnes of FYM, 375 kg single superphosphate and 100 kg Muriate of Potash per hectare are applied basally.
  • The seedlings are transplanted during rainy season at a spacing of 45 cm between the rows and 30 cm between the plants.
  • The seedlings are irrigated every 3 - 4 days depending on rains during the first month of planting, thereafter, the crop is irrigated at 7 - 10 days intervals.
  • When the crop is fully grown, irrigations at 15 - 20 days intervals are given.

Interculture - Fertilizers

  • The field is kept free of weeds for the first 2 - 3 months after planting and up to one month after each harvest.
  • Urea @ 40 and 45 kg per hectare is applied 30 and 90 days after planting. For each harvest 85 kg urea per hectare is to be given in two equal splits.
  • In fields deficient in Zinc, 25 - 5- kg zinc sulphate per hectare is to be applied. Micronutrients and growth regulators may be sprayed for each harvest. There are no pests or disease on palmarosa crop in Andhra Pradesh.

Harvesting - Profits

  • First harvest is taken 4 - 5 months after planting.
  • The crop is harvested 15 - 20 cm above growund at the time of flowering to early seed formation stage. Sunsequent harvests are obtained at 2 ½ to 3 months intervals for 3 - 4 years. Irrigated palmarosa yields 175 - 250 kg oil and a profit of Rs. 43,000 - 62,000 per hectare per year.
  • Rainfed palmarosa gives 40 - 80 kg oil and a profit of Rs. 10,000 - 20,000 per hectare per year.


  • The oil is extracted from the entire plant using a distillation unit consisting of a distillation tank, a condenser and a separator.
  • Freshly harvested grass as such or after cutting into small pieces is loaded into the distillation tank. After closing the lid tightly, steam is passed into the tank. Steam and the oil vapour condense into liquid in condenser and are collected in separator.
  • The oil is taken out, cleaned and stored either in aluminium containers or amber coloured bottles. The recovery of oil from grass ranges from 0.3 - 0.6 per cent. It takes about 4 hours for complete recovery of the oil.