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%.
France is offering a viable alternative to the Croatian origin as harvesting restrictions over recent years in Croatia have resulted in a significant reduction in their annual production. Contrastingly France has been working to increase their capacities and will manage 200 kilo in their July 2016 harvest, an increase from 80 kilo in 2015.
There was a good harvest in 2017 with the southeastern regions of France producing almost 500 kilo of oil. This is a marked increase on the 200 kilo in 2016 and 80 kilo in 2015!
While French producers would claim their oil is better than the more traditional Croatian type, the Croatians would probably say the same for their oil. With the increase in production in both growing areas there is a general expectation that prices will soften but be cautious about this. Demand is growing in the aromatherapy market and given the cost of production, due to small yields, producers will be reluctant to see prices slide and will instead perhaps wait for the markets to catch up with the new demands rather than sell cheaply. That said, it could be a long wait if total European production volumes are to be believed!
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