Family: Oleaceae, Jasminum spp.

Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.

The Jasminum species, primarily represented by poet's Jasminum officinale L., and royal jasmine, Jasminum grandiflorum L., are an important source of natural fragrances. Poet's jasmine, also known as white jasmine, is native to the Himalayas of western China. The vine-like plant reaches a height of 10 meters, and has ovate leaves and clusters of fragrant white flowers that bloom in summer and fall. Royal jasmine, also known as Catalonian and Spanish jasmine, grows similarly to poet's jasmine but has leaflets of a different size, shorter branches, and larger flowers (11.1-50). This jasmine is most valued for its fragrance and is the most extensively cultivated. Jasmine is grown in France, Spain, Italy, and several North African and Middle Eastern countries.

The reported life zone for Jasminum officinale is 11 to 27 degrees centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.3 to 2.8 meters and a soil pH of 4.9 to 8.3 (4.1-31). The perennial jasmine plants that grow outside in warm regions are grown inside as greenhouse plants in northern climates. Poet's jasmine is much more cold tolerant than royal jasmine, and cultivated jasmine plants are usually grafted onto poet's jasmine rootstocks (11.1-50, 14.1-4). Jasmine can be produced on almost any soil type, with ample water supply and full sun. Full production begins after grafting in the second year. Flowers are picked in the early morning, since they are the most fragrant at daybreak (11.1-50, 14.1-10). Flowers from higher altitudes are of a finer quality than those of lower altitudes (14.1-10).

Jasmine flower oil is extracted immediately after the flowers are collected by enfleurage or the use of volatile solvents (14.1-10). The extraction process to obtain high-quality jasmine oil is delicate and laborious. The oil contains benzyl acetate, terpineol, jasmone, benzyl benzoate, linalool, several alcohols, and other compounds 14.1-10). The concrete and absolute of jasmine are available commercially.

The flower oil is important in high-grade perfumes and cosmetics, such as creams, oils, soaps, and shampoos. Flowers are used in jasmine tea and other herbal or black teas. Several types of jasmine are used as ornamental plants.

As a medicinal plant, jasmine has traditionally been considered an aphrodisiac and calmative. The roots and leaves of some jasmine species have been used in folk medicine as an anthelmintic, active against ringworm and tapeworm (11.1-50). The plant has been employed against cancer (14.1-18).

Jasminum sambac (L.) Ait., commonly called Arabian jasmine, is a white-flowered evergreen plant, from 2 to 3 meters in height, of uncertain origin. The plant has been used to flavor teas and is reported to have antimicrobial activity (2.1-54). The names yellow jasmine and Carolina jasmine actually refer to Gelsenium sempervirens (L.) Ait. f., a poisonous plant of the Loganaceae family. Cape Jasmine is actually Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, a common gardenia of the Rubiaceae family that has fragrant flowers.

Jasmine is generally recognized as safe for human consumption as a plant extractive or essential oil (21 CFR section 182.20 [1982]).

[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].

Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index

Last modified 6-Dec-1997