The genus Helichrysum consists of an estimated 600 species, in the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
Helichrysum italicum (also known as Helichrysum angustifolium) is steam distilled to produce a yellow-reddish essential oil popular in fragrance for its unique scent, best described as a mixture of caramel and florals notes. Angustifolium means narrow leaved.
Helichrysum angustifolium yields are very small ranging from as little as 0.08 to 0.18%.
Croatian oil is deemed to be the best for its neryl acetate content but it’s becoming a challenge to source.
Collections of immortelle are controlled by local governments in Croatia and sadly the plant has been subject to much illegal harvesting over recent years. So much so that the government is considering greater controls or even banning any harvesting in certain areas. This could have a profound effect on future availability. In 2014 the government already imposed a 45-day ban to try and curb illegal harvesting and in 2015 there will only be a summer harvest (there’s usually a Spring harvest). Officials described the situation as ‘uncontrolled, unprofessional, greedy, without any national strategy, not thinking about what will be in the years to come.’
With this crop, we have too much of a good thing. No wonder helichrysum essential oil is called “Gold of Croatia” because it is as valuable as gold, maybe even more. After all health is more valuable than wealth. The crop was good last year as a number of new plantation areas saw an upsurge in production. Currently enough quantities are available. However, quality is quite different and also there is a revival of demand. Prices are expected to soften over the coming months.
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