chapter
19 Pages

Fragrant Plants

BySue Minter

The fragrance of flowers derives from volatile oils known as essential oils. More than three thousand essential oils have been identified from over eight-seven plant families worldwide. These oils are not found only in the flowers, but also frequently in the leaves, roots, rhizomes, seeds, rind, or bark. Plants usually produce these oils as a defense against insect attack, plant diseases, or extreme heat. The bioactivity of essential oils is the key to their potency as plant defenses and to their therapeutic properties. White flowers are disproportionately represented in scented genera, because the oilproducing glands compete for location with cells producing pigmentation.