Types of Rose Oils – Sources of Rose to Obtain Essential Oil & Absolutes

Attar of roses (otto) or Rose Essential oil is extracted from rose petals, and used widely in aromatherapy and perfumery. Rose oil is one of the most sought-after perfumery agent in the world, today.

There are around 180+ species of Rose and thousands of hybrid rose species found in different regions. However, interestingly only 5 or 6 species out of these are used for extraction of rose oil and rose absolute.

Types of Roses Used for Obtaining Rose Oil:

Below are the key rose species that are used commonly for the production of Rose essential oil and Rose absolutes:

  1. Rosa damascena or Pink Damask Rose
  2. Rosa centifolia or  the Rose de Mai
  3. Rosa Rugosa
  4. Rosa Alba,
  5. Rosa Bourboniana
Rose Essentil Oil and Absolutes
Types of Rose Oil

Let’s have a detailed overview of all above mentioned types of roses:

1. Rosa damascene (Pink Damask Rose) :

Rosa damascene, also known as Pink Damask Rose or Rose of Castile tops the list being the most popular and appreciated rose species for production of rose absolute and essential oil.

Bulgaria, India, France and Turkey are the most prolific producers of rose essential oil than other cultivars of Rosa × damascena. India also bring a unique significance as the distillers in India are producing rose oil using the traditional means which include old deg-bhapka method of distillation of Rose Essential Oil. The Story

“The Soul of the Rose” story covered by BBC UK put light on traditional ways of obtaining rose oil that is still prevalent in Kannauj, India.

Specification of Rose Oil Obtained from Rosa Damascena or Damask Rose:

  • Aroma: Very rich, sharp, mild spicy and sweet-floral
  • Appearance: Rose essential oil is a light yellow mobile liquid that congeals upon cooling, while rose absolute is dark reddish or orangish

2. Rosa centifolia or the Rose de Mai

Physical Properties:

Appearance: orange yellow clear viscous liquid
Food Chemicals Codex Listed: No
Shelf Life: 24 months or longer if stored properly.
Storage: store in cool, dry place in tightly sealed containers, protected from heat and light.


Rosa× Centifolia is particular to the Grasse city in France, which is also known as the perfume capital of the world. Rose De Mai has ancient history in the Grasse region and is one of the primary aroma essences distilled and extracted along with Jasmine, Tuberose, Violet, Neroli and more.

Today, It is widely cultivated for its singular fragrance—clear and sweet, with light notes of honey.

Rosa centifolia or Dutch Rose flowers are commercially harvested for the production of rose absolutes and essential oil, which is commonly used in perfumery.

When compared to Rose Damascena absolute, Rose de Mai absolute expected to produce a greener, spicier fragrance.  Rose de Mai is hybrid of Rose Centifolia,

3. Rosa Rugosa or Beach Rose

Rosa rugosa, also known as rugosa rose, beach rose, Ramanas rose, or Letchberry is a species of rose native to eastern Asia, in northeastern China, Japan, Korea and southeastern Siberia, where it grows on beach coasts, often on sand dunes.

  • Aroma of Rosa rugosa otto: deep, soft, honey-spicy
  • Appearance: Colorless, or light yellow

Blends Well With

Bay, cardamom, clove, coriander, frankincense, geranium, ginger, jasmine, lemon, mandarin, neroli, palmarosa, patchouli, sandalwood, ylang ylang

4. White Rose Otto- Rosa alba essential oil

Rosa alba or white rose is predominantly cultivated in small amounts in Bulgaria, often on plantations alongside Rosa damascenaRosa alba is said to have a more intense aroma than Rosa damascena.

White Rose essential oil from this species is also comparatively expensive than that of Rosa damascena.

  • Aroma: Fresh, sweet, floral, sharp
  • Appearance: Pale yellow
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Plant part used: Fresh Blossoms/Petals of Roses
  • Origin: Sri Lanka
  • Perfumery Note: Middle- top

Blends well with:

Sandalwood, vanilla Geranium, Jasmine, Clove, Benzoin, Bergamot, Chamomile, Fennel, Geranium, Ginger, Lavender, Lemon, Mandarin, Neroli, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang, Vetiver absolute

5. Rosa Bourboniana or Indian Rose

Rosa bourboniana, also called Indian Rose or rose Edward or the Bourbon rose, is primarily cultivated in India, Tamil Nadu in southern India where the rose petals are harvested to produce rose absolute.

The Bourbon Rose is believed to have originated in the Isle of Bourbon (now Reunion Islands) towards the end of the 18th century as a natural hybrid of Rosa chinensis and Rosa damascena.

Rosa bourboniana is also grown widely in Rajasthan and its main use is for the production of attar, gulkand and rose water with a small amount of essential oil also being produced in that dry desert region.

It is rose floral with a green honey note and back notes that are soft hay and powder. There is something of the lovely scent of the Rose Leaf Absolute in the bouquet. The tenacity is quite good, intensity is soft and pleasant.

In delicious skin care for smoothe, soft skin and in perfumery. It can be used in natural botanical perfumery with other Rose odor absolutes and will add its own unique quality.

  • Appearance: Orange-yellow to slightly reddish
  • Aroma: Warm, sweet, spicy