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July 28, 2019 2 min read

Botany matters. I can't tell you how important it is to really know what a plant looks like. Even if you are only using a product that comes from it like a hydrosol or essential oil. 

I personally have spent hours upon hours searching for correctly ID'd photographs of plants that we obtain essential oils from. Why? For one, I don't want to give you incorrect information. And with several different species of plants belonging to one genus, it is too easy to give the wrong information.

In fact, I can't tell you how many times I have seen individuals use the wrong photos for a plant. Myself included at times.

One that is commonly mislabeled is Pelargonium graveolens. Additionally, most individuals don't realize the essential oil is obtained through distillation from the leaves. Not the flowers.


Photo by: Tracey Stringfellow

Another plant I am finding is regularly misrepresented is Inula graveolens. I am still trying to find a correctly identified photo of it to this day... Inula helenium or Inula odorante is frequently shared as a representation of what is advertised to be Inula graveolens.

It is absolutely ok to use an image that fits your genus, but if you don't know the species... make sure you designate the photo correctly. For example: Geranium, Pelargonium sp. Sp identifies it as unknown, unidentified, etc.

I am sharing all of this for one reason. I want you to know more. To be better. To use your compassion, thirst for knowledge, and curiosity about plant based products to get to know more about the real plants. Because it is that important to  really know what we are working with.

As a side note, thank you to Ann Harman for helping many of us find our way back to the plants and "bridging" the gap from herbalism to aromatherapy. Back to searching for correctly identified photos of plants I go!