aromatic profile: helichrysum

helichrysum essential oil

Common name: Helichrysum

Genus name: Helichrysum italicum

Supplier: unknown

Note: top-mid

Main chemical components: neryle acetate (around 27 percent). The essential oil also contains terpenes (alpha pinene, 2 percent; limonene, 5 percent; italicene, 3 percent), sequiterpenes (beta caryophyllene, 1 percent; alpha curcumene, 3 percent; gamma curcumene, 10 percent), alcohols (linalool, 2 percent; nerol, 2.5 percent), ketones (italidones, 9 percent), and oxides (caryophyllene oxide, 2 percent).

Interesting bits: Blooming from May to August, this essential oil is produced by steam distillation or by solvent extraction of the flowers. It’s a discreet plant growing in dry, hot areas of the Mediterranean and can differ in chemistry, like most other EOs, due to soil and climate. It dislikes humidity, preferring shelter from cold winds and frost. What I learned while researching this EO is that there are distinct differences between the Helichrysum absolute and the EO (any for that matter): absolutes find expression more in the heart and base note whereas the EO typically captures the top notes. So combining the two would create a broader spectrum and greater longevity of the flower.

Their nose: The fragrance is warm, slightly honey like, rich and buttery, with green notes of wood, spices, herb. It is a fascinating oil because it is made up of several layers of notes that appear to unfold during the dry down. (

(Corsica) is a pale yellow liquid displaying a rich,sweet, honeyed, herbaceous-aromatic bouquet with fruity, tea-like undertone of good tenacity. (Bosnia) a rich spicy-aromatic bouquet but the undertone is green, hay-like in character. (

“Perhaps the herb everlasting (Helichrysum italicum), the fragrant immortelle of our autumn field, has the most suggestive odor to me of all those that set me dreaming. I can hardly describe the strange thoughts and emotions that come to me as I inhale the aroma of its pale, dry, rustling flowers. A something it has of sepulchral spicery, as it had been brought from the core of some great pyramid, where it was laid on the breast of some mummified Pharoh. Something, too, of immortality in the sad, faint sweetness lingering so long in its lifeless petals. Yet this does not tell why it fills my eyes with tears and carries me in blissful thought to the banks of asphodel that border the River of Life. ” –from Scent Memories by Francis Jacox

My nose: This note is my first love, I am spell-bound by its nuances and will forever be captive of its story! I find it utterly elegant as a single note with a dry woody aspect, dry like gin, dry. It tends to disappear after the first initial smelling.

1 hour after and it’s already beginning to fade, tip-toeing its way to an exit.  So soft.  Truly a top note, and yet, I can’t simply dismiss it as just that…there’s something deeper, more grounded about it.  No doubt this characteristic is something that growing on cliffs and clinging to mountainsides lends the oil.

3 hours into the dry-down and I can still smell tiny whispers of it on the scent strip but more woodier.

After 1 day wow, it’s still clinging, holding on for dear life.  Very dry, papery almost, still present, almost powdery.



5 thoughts on “aromatic profile: helichrysum

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  2. Great source of information, thank you:)

    Believing that absolutes must be somehow better than oils I’ve got recently Helichrysum absolutes (angustifolium and stoechas as italicum is not avalaible already) and I’m … disapointed:
    the smell of the curry leaf-like is so strong…
    Maxine, maybe you would answear my questions:
    Is “italicum” plant very diffrent from what I got? Or maybe E/O of Helichrysum is so different from the absolutes?
    Or maybe Helichrysum always has this curry leaf quality…?:)

    Kind regards,


    1. Hello Mon,

      I wouldn’t say that the absolutes are “better” what they are is deeper, they have more facets and seem to hold more surprises and I find they sort of act as a sort of glue holding certain accords together but they need to be used judiciously as a little goes a long way. Yes, the e/o is quite different from the absolute. My Helichrysum absolute has a thicker, heavier impression whereas the e/o is light and bright and airy. There is a leafy, “curry-like” nuance to it, you’re right. What dilution are you evaluating it at? Mine is at 10%. If yours is still too strong, dilute it some more.

      Interesting that you’re disappointed. I know what you mean about some notes and typically for me I find I’m disappointed in an oil if I’ve held an impression or an opinion about how it should smell. My advice is to just accept this note for what it is.

      Cheers and glad to hear you like the blog :).


  3. Maxine, thank you for your answear.

    I’ve tried different dilutions. What is interesting this “curry” quality gets more noticeble in heavy dilutions and stays long time on the strip. It all might have be just a subjective impression as sometimes it is very strong, sometimes I can’t smell it at all (I checked that also on other people with what they can smell). But all in all after few hours on my skin, I always smell something like a broth,and vegetables mainly.

    Just after asking you my question I also realised that my father had Helichrysum italicum in his garden, and as he is a curry lover he showed me this grey in colour plant and it was so curry – like, very strong (and its also called curry plant sometimes..) So it must be a big “part’ of this plant, which is still hard to accept for me on the skin, and that’s a pitty becouse I love natural honey note which is so beautiful there and hard to find…

    Thank you:)


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