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Plant Oils WWW Resources

This page is all about plant oils. It provides web resources for over 200 plant-based oils, as well as to plant extracts & derivatives.

Oils, oleoresins & extracts from plants are used in a wide variety of ways – in food, as medicine, in cosmetics & toiletry, as ingredients for industrial products, as fuel, and more. We present web resources for the various plant oils and their applications.

By the term “plant oils”, we refer to oils that are derived from one or more parts of a plant, shrub or tree. Hence the oil could be from the root, stem/bark, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits and whatever else could be a part of the plant!

We hope you find this page useful.

Add Links: If you have a web site that you wish to include in this database, do let us know the details by sending a note about your URL to [email protected]. We’ll quickly review the web site, and if found relevant, add it to the database. We look forward to web site owners and link exchange partners to submit URL. Thanks!

Sections in this page:

  1. What are Plant Oils?
  1. Plant Oils – References & Guides
  1. Plant Oils – Global Trade
  1. Plant Oils Chemistry & Structure
  1. News & Updates on Plant Oils
  1. Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Food & Beverages (Separate Section)
  1. Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Cosmetics & Toiletry (Separate Section)
  1. Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Flavours & Fragrances (Separate Section)
  1. Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Drugs & Pharmaceuticals (Separate Section)
  1. Plant Oils Uses - Bio-fuel Related Sites ( see also: The Biodiesel Encyclopedia, Biodiesel from Algae, Oil from Algae - Oilgae.com, Coal to Diesel, BdPedia)
  1. Other Plant Oil Uses (Separate Section)
  1. Plant Oils – Research & Future (Separate Section)
  1. Other Plant Derivatives (Separate Section)
  1. Nutrition Related Sites
  1. Crop & Horticultural Sites
  1. Prominent Companies in the Plant-derived Chemicals Market
  1. The A-Z of Plant Oils (Separate Section)

See also: Some interesting energy-related questions from Billion Dollar Site

·         Are biofuels sustainable in the long term?

·         How long will oil last?

·         What are the alternative energy options available?

Reference on Energy & Alternative Energy – from Oilgae – Oil from Algae - What’s New in Energy, Sustainable Energy Portal

What are plant oils?

We all know plant oils are oils that come from plants, don’t we?

While that indeed is true, you will be truly amazed to discover the range of oils derived from plants and trees.

Allow us to elaborate. Now, you and I know that a plant/tree comprises the following: root, stem, leaves, flowers, seeds, fruits, have we left something out? The interesting fact is, many parts of each plant can provide us with extracts and derivatives that are useful.

Can you imagine that most parts of the docile-looking tree or plant that grows right next to your house could be providing mankind with beneficial oils, extracts or derivatives? And if one starts counting the various different plants and trees all over the world, the magnitude and variety of the oils and extracts that can be derived from them appears truly admirable.

Plant-derived oils can be broadly classified into two: Essential Oils & Fixed Oils.

Essential oils are volatile, and are usually derived from the non-seed parts of the plants. Most fixed oils are the so-called “fatty oils”, and a majority of the fatty oils are derived from the seeds – hence the term oilseeds, meaning oil-bearing seeds. Some of the fixed oils are derived from vegetables & nuts.

Essential oils have been used for centuries. They have been used extensively in ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt & the Middle East – as perfumes, flavours, deodarants, antiseptics & pharmaceuticals. As a result of new processing technologies, they can today used for more functions as well.

The use of fixed oils or “fatty oils” are more recent, but they have become as important as, or more important than, their essential oil counterparts, as edible oils, as industrial raw materials and feedstock for producing a number of useful products.

This page tries to capture the magic of all the benefits that plants and trees provide us through their oils. While the focus is on comprehensive info with regard to plant oils, the page also provides brief details of the other extracts and derivatives from plants.

In addition details and inputs, The Plant Oils Database also contains a comprehensive listing of sites related to plant oils and plant derivatives. Our researchers have gone through thousands of web pages and picked out sites and pages that we felt could be relevant and interesting.

Plant Oils – References & Guides

Let’s start from the very beginning. Plants and trees start as seeds, no surprises there. So we start with oilseeds. A significant portion of plant oils are derived from the seeds.

Oilseeds & Fixed Oils

Fixed oils are oils obtained from plants that are fatty, dense and non-volatile, such as olive and sweet almond oil. This is in contrast to essential oils which are volatile in nature. Some of the prominent fixed oils are almond oil, castor oil, coconut oil etc. The term vegetable oils is normally used interchangeably with the term fixed oils. Fixed oils are derived from seeds, nuts & vegetables.

The major oilseeds are soybeans, rapeseed, cottonseed, sunflowerseed, groundnut, palm, copra, sesame, linseed & castorseed, maize oil and coconut oil ( see here for worldwide statistics of major oilseeds)

Oils obtained from oilseeds are also known as fixed oils, as against the essential oils which are more volatile.

The primary oilseeds & fixed oils are: Soybeans, Rapeseed, Sunflowerseed, Peanut, Cottonseed, Copra, Palm Kernel (Seed, Meal, Oil) Palm Oil, Olive Oil.

Fixed Oils & Oilseeds Links

Links for Primary Oilseeds:

Oil Extraction & Production from Oilseeds

Oilseeds processing & oil extraction comprise the following processes:

  1. Storage of oilseeds
    1. Protection of Farm-stored Grains, Oilseeds & Pulses (PDF)
  2. Cleaning of the oilseeds
  3. Removing the husk or seed coating and separating the seeds from the chaff
  4. Heating the seed
    1. Equipment to Heat Oilseeds – from FAO
  1. Extracting oil with an oil press, expeller or mortal & pestle
    1. Principles of Oil Extraction – from ITDG (PDF)
    2. Extraction of Oil from Oilseeds by Accelerated Solvent Extraction  (PDF)
    3. Kinetics & Thermodynamics of Oil Extraction from Sunflower Seeds in the Presence of Acidic Aqueous Hexane Solutions (PDF)
    4. Small-scale Oil Extraction from Groundnuts & Copra
  1. Extracted oil purification
  2. Storing the purified oil
    1. The Food Storage FAQ – Fats & Oils
    2. Storing Fats & Oils



Lipids in everyday terminology refer to fats and fat-like substances, and include sterols, fatty acids and related substances.

Lipids are a class of hydrocarbon-containing organic compounds essential for the structure and function of living cells. Lipids are characterized by being water-insoluble and soluble in nonpolar organic solvents such as ether. Lipids are usually aliphatic but they can have rings in their structure.


Although the word lipid is commonly used as a synonym to fat, fats belong to a subgroup of triglyceride lipids.


Most fixed oils from oilseeds contain lipids, usually in the form of triglycerides. Lipids may be accumulated in oilseeds in one or both types of seed tissue – the embryo or the endosperm. In oilseeds such as sunflower, linseed or rapeseed, it is accumulated in the cotyledons of the embryo. In species such as castor bean, coriander or carrot, the endosperm is the main site of lipid accumulation. An example of a plant in which lipids occur both in the embryo & the endosperm  is tobacco (this definition is courtesy Plant Oils & Fats Page of Cyberlipid.org).


·                     Fatty Acids – from SV Lele

·                     CSIC – Spanish Institute of Fats & Oils

·                     Cyberlipid Center (see also: Plant Oils & Fats – from Cyber Lipid)

·                     DGF – German Society for Fat Science

·                     EFL: European Federation for the Science and Technology of Lipids (Euro Fed Lipid)

·                     Euro Fed Lipid (In German)

·                     Chilean Corporation of Oils and Fats (CORCHIGA)

·                     Ban Trans Fats

·                     Links to Fatty Places

·                     Netherlands Oils, Fats & Oilseeds Trade Association

·                     Euro Lipids – International Trade Fair for Fats & Oils & Related Technologies

·                     Japan Oil Chemists Society

·                     ISSFAL: International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids

·                     Lipid Bank for Web Database, Japan

·                     Lipidforum - Nordic Forum for Lipid Research and Technology

·                     Lipids Analysis Unit, part of Scottish Crop Research Institute

·                     Lipid Technology & Enzymology

·                     The American Oil Chemists Society

·                     Plant Oils & Fats – Cyberlipid.org

·                     Lipids, Fats & Oils – Opportunities & Responsibilities in the New Century (PDF)



Oilseeds & Fixed Oils Research

While a wide range of research activities are taking place in the domain of fixed oils/seed oils, one interesting area of research is lipids and fatty acid biosynthesis. One of the key aims of this research domain is to identify genes that are present in lipids from fixed oils, especially unusual fixed oils. The idea is that once isolated, such genes could be used to produce that unusual oil in a major crop plant.

Seed oils from plants have a broad variety of compositions. Although most seed oils are used as edible oils, some unusual oils might also have useful industrial applications (castor oil, for instance, has a unique composition in that it contains ricinoleic acid, a unique chemical). However, none of these unusual oils are produced in agronomically significant crops. A research team at Danforth Center is trying to learn which genes are responsible for producing unusual oils

Lipids Research


Other are of lipid research currently:

·         Molecular structure of fatty acid synthases

·         Fatty acid desaturases: structure, mechanism and regulation

·         Altering the fatty acid composition of vegetable oils

·         Recent advances in plant fatty acid elongation

·         Triacylglycerol biosynthesis

·         Gglycerolipid synthesis

·         Molecular biology of acyltransferases

·         Manipulating seed oils for polyunsaturated fatty acid content

·         Environmental effects on plant lipid biochemistry

·         The future industry requirements from advances in plant lipid research

Lipid Research Links


Essential Oils

Our next stop is essential oils.

Essential oils refer to the subtle, aromatic and volatile liquids extracted from the flowers, seeds, leaves, stems, bark and roots of herbs, bushes, shrubs and trees through distillation.

Essential oils are quite different from oils produced from oilseeds – that is soybeans, sunflower etc. The oil from the oilseeds traditionally comprise fatty acids, and these are very different in their chemical composition from the essential oils.

As against oilseeds bearing plants whose oils are present in the seeds, most essential oils occur in one or more of the following regions in a plant - cavities or ducts just below the epidermis (outer skin), and (b) glands or hairs originating from epidermal cells.

Essential oils are concentrated liquids containing volatile aromatic compounds. These oils are produced by distillation, expression, or solvent extraction. Essential oils are used in perfumery, aromatherapy, cosmetics, incense, medicine, household cleaning products, and for flavoring food and drink, and their use in aromatherapy and other health care areas is growing

Essential oils are responsible for the aroma and flavor associated with herbs, spices, and perfumes. Also called volatile oils because they easily diffuse into the air where they are then detectable by our olfactory senses, essential oils are usually terpenoids, another large class of “secondary” chemicals. Terpenoids are usually produced and secreted by specialized gland cells which may be present in virtually all plant parts i.e. leaves, stems, etc. Their presence in certain plant parts probably reflects their function. In addition to terpenoids, phenolic compounds are responsible for the aroma and flavor of some spices. For example, eugenol is a phenolic compound found in both cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) and cloves from Syzygium aromaticum.

The function of essential oils is debated. As with many secondary compounds, essential oils were once considered waste products. However, the biosynthetic pathways that yield essential oils are specialized and imply an expenditure of energy by the plant for their production.  Another debated role for essential oils is to inhibit competing plants, or allelopathy. For example, essential oils in shed leaves can leach into the soil where they may inhibit the germination or growth of other plants competing for the same resources (e.g. light, mineral nutrients, water). As with many other secondary compounds, they are now believed to also deter herbivory and prevent infection by pathogens (i.e. bacteria and fungi). However, there is much to be learned about the physiological and ecological functions of essential oils whose functions probably also include the promotion of fire in fire-adapted species, attraction of pollinating and seed dispersing insects and vertebrates, and protection from oxidative stress caused by exposure to solar radiation (i.e. sunlight).e.g. a-pinene

What is the role of essential oils in plants? Put another way, why are these oils present in plants? Some of the reasons could be: (a) for attracting the pollinating insects by their aromas, and (b) for protecting against harmful organisms (insects and animals) by the anesthetic effects of the oils.

Links for Essential Oils 

Essential Oil Extraction

The methods of extracting essential oils are:



A majority of essential oils are extracted by distillation. The various distillation methods used are: Steam distillation, Hydro-distillation, water & steam distillation ( see also: Methods of Extracting Essential Oils)


·         Essential Oil Distillation Methods

·         Extraction of the Essential Oil of Lavender

·         Essential Oil Steam Distillation Kit – from Heart Magic

·         Essential Oil Distillation Equipment – MIT University (PDF)

·         Distillation of Essential Oils – EssentialOils.co.za

·         Home Distillation of Lavandin


Cold Pressing


Cold pressing method involves the simple pressing of the rind at about 120 degrees F to extract the oil. Little, if any, alteration from the oil's original state occurs – these oils retain their bright, fresh, uplifting aromas like that of smelling a wonderfully ripe fruit.


·         How are Essential Oils Made – Dean Coleman

·         Essential Oil Production


High Pressure CO2 Extraction


Both Carbon Dioxide and Supercritical Carbon Dioxide extraction involve the use of carbon dioxide as the 'solvent' which carries the essential oil away from the raw plant material.


The lower pressure CO2 extraction involves chilling carbon dioxide to between 35 and 55 degrees F, and pumping it through the plant material at about 1000 psi. The CO2 in this condition is condensed to a liquid.


Supercritical CO2 extraction (SCO2) involves carbon dioxide heated to 87 degrees F and pumped through the plant material at around 8,000 psi – under these conditions, the carbon dioxide is likened to a 'dense fog' or vapor. With release of the pressure in either process, the carbon dioxide escapes in its gaseous form, leaving the essential oil behind.

These CO2 methods have some advantages: Similar to steam distillation, there are no solvent residues left behind, and the resultant product is quite pure. Like solvent extraction, there is no heat applied to the plant material or essential oil to alter it in any way. The oil produced is very accurate with respect to the original state of the plant. The CO2 methods also are the most efficient, producing the most oil per amount of plant. The efficiency of CO2 extraction is particularly important when rare or endangered plant species are involved, such as Indian Sandalwood, since less of the precious plant is needed to produce an equivalent amount of oil.


·         Super-critical Fluid Extraction

·         Supercritical Fluid Extraction


Solvent Extraction


·         Supercritical Fluid & High-pressure Solvent Extraction

·         Hydrocarbon Solvents Used in the Extraction of Essential Oils




·         Maceration Extraction

Summary of Extraction Methods


High-pressure CO2 Extraction, while having some obvious advantages, is not always the best choice for a particular need, because they are the most expensive.


The resultant product differs slightly compared to one produced another way – the oils produced by steam distillation of some plants may sometimes be found to have a more agreeable aroma. Some oils, for example, seem to benefit from the steam distillation process by becoming a little warmer and richer. Other essential oils are produced quite effectively via steam distillation, with little alteration from the original plant state.

More Essential Oils Extraction Links 

·         Oilseeds Processing Resources from Michigan Tech

·         Methods of Extracting Essential Oils

·         Small-scale Production of Essential Oils (PDF)

·         Essential Oils & their Production – NZ Institute for Crops & Food (PDF)

·         Extraction Methods of Essential Oils & Resins – from Plant Resins

·         CETIOM – Technical Center for Oilseed Crops, France

·         Edible & Essence Oils Extraction References – Washington State University

·         Small-scale Oilseed Processing – from Green Trust (PDF)

·         The Sunflower Seed Huller & Oil Press – from Journerytoforever

·         Small-scale Oilseed Processing – ATTRA (PDF)

·         Oil Extraction Methods – from KVIC, India

·         Example of a Complete Oil Mill – from Folkecenter, Denmark

·         Edible & Essential Oil Processing

·         Essential Oils – Methods of Extraction

·         Microwave Extraction of Essential Oils – A Thesis Paper (PDF)

·         Dictionary of Occupational Terms – Animal & Vegetable Oils, Fats & Grease Industry

List & Details of Some Plants Suitable For The Production Of Essential Oils


Botanical source

Main origin


Amyris balsamifera


Anise/star anise

Pimpinella anisum

Spain, Soviet Union, Poland

Anise, star

Anisum verum

China, Vietnam

Bay/laurel leaf

Pimenta racemosa/Laurus nobilis

Dominica, Turkey, Italy, Cote d'Ivoire


Myrocarpus frondosus


Caraway seed

Carum carvi

Many Asian, Western Europe and North African Countries, USA


Cedrus spp./Juniperus spp.

India, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, USA, China, Kenya


Cinnamomum verum/C. cassia

Sri Lanka (Cinnamon), China (Cassia)

Citronella / Sweet Calamus

Cymbopogon spp.

Indonesia, China, Sri Lanka, India, USA, Taiwan, Guatemala, Malawi


Artemisia spp.

India, Pakistan


Eucalyptus globulus

China, USA, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Malawi


Pelargonium graveolens

Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Reunion, China, Kenya, Tanzania, East European Countries, Russia


Lavendula spp.

France, Italy, Spain, Hungary.

Lemon grass

Cymbopogon citratus

India, Guatemala, China


Litsea cubeba



Brachyleana hutchinsii



Myristica fragrans

Indonesia, Grenada, Sri Lanka


Cymbopogon martini



Pogostemon cablin

Indonesia, China

Pimento (Allspice)

Pimenta dioica

Jamaica, USA


Aniba rosaeodora

Brazil, Peru


Santalum album

India, Indonesia


Ocotea pretiosa



Tagetes glandulifera

East and Southern Africa


Thymus vulgaris



Vetiveria zizanioides

Haiti, Indonesia, China, Reunion


Cananga odorata

Comoros, Madagascar, Indonesia

More Plant Oil References

·         Fixed Oils – from Journey to Forever

·         Plant Oils Factsheet from EPA.gov, USA (see also: Plant Oils Products)

·         Horticultural Oils from IPM of Alaska

·         Plant Oils Could End Latest Gas Crunch from How Stuff Works

·         Vegetable Oils Yields & Characteristics from Journey to Forever

·         Using Vegetable Oil as a Diesel Fuel – from Vegetable Oil as Diesel, UK

·         Altered Oil Content Research Info from Cornell University

·         Plant/Crop Based Renewable Resources 2020 – A Vision Paper (PDF)

·         Adapting Vegetable Oils to Suite Our Needs – from EUFIC

·         Vegetable Oils – Plants for a Future – from PFAF.org

·         China’s Vegetable Oil Industry – from Agriculture & Agri-foods Department, Govt of Canada

·         Vegetable Oil Industry – Market Info from Duke University

·         Brazil Association of Vegetable Oil Industries

·         Botanical Oil Research Resources from University of Tennessee

·         Vegetable Oil Resources from Oliomobile

·         Links from Tree Oils India

·         Castor Oil Dictionary

·         Lipids Online

·         Association for International Trading in Oils, Fats & Oilseeds

·         European Association of Bio Industries

·         Malaysian Oil Scientists and Technologists Association (MOSTA)

·         European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology

·         International Olive Oil Council

·         CREOL – France

·         The American Oil Chemists Society

·         AFECG - France

·         FEDIOL

·         FOSFA - The Federation of Oils, Seeds and Fats Associations

·         ILPS - International Lecithin & Phospholipid Society

·         PROLEA - French Body Comprising FOP, CETIOM, ONIDOL, UNIP, SOFIPROTEOL

·         International Lecithin & Phospolipids Society

·         Netherlands Oils, Fats and Oilseeds Trade Association (NOFOTA)

·         Clubs Oils & Fats, Netherlands

·         Brazilian Association of Vegetable Oil Industries ABIOVE

·         Botanical Material Used in the Manufacture of Essential Oils

·         Dangerous Oils – from Elaine’s Aromatherapy

·         Fat of the Land – Impact of Production & Consumption of Vegetable Oils on People & the Environment (PDF)

·         Vegetable Oils, Fats & Waxes – from Horticultural Section of Purdue University

·         Types of (Oilseed) Oils

Plant Oils Global Trade

Oilseed Majors

The major countries that are producers of oilseeds are USA, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, EU-15 Countries, China, Central Europe, Canada, Brazil & Argentina

Top Producers of Oilseeds ( in alphabetical order)



Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, CIS, EU-25, India, Japan, S Korea, Taiwan, US


Australia, Canada, China, CIS, EU-25, India, Japan, US


Argentina, China, CIS, EU-25, US


China, EU-25, India, Indonesia, Malaysia


Argentina, Canada, China, EU-25, India, Mexico, US

Essential Oil Majors

The major exporters of essential oils are the United States, the European Union (EU) and a number of developing countries, the most important of which are China, Indonesia, India and Brazil.

Oilseeds & Essential Oils International Trade Links



Plant Oils in USA


·         US Oilseeds Supply & Distribution – from USDA

·         Vvalue of US Exports of Selected Oilseeds & Products – University of Texas (PDF)

·         Lesquerella & Vernonia – Oilseeds for Arid Lands

Plant Oils in Malaysia


·         Development of Environment-friendly Insect Repellants from Leaf Oils of Selected Australian Plants (PDF)

·         Malaysian Palm Oil Council

·         Malaysian Palm Oil Board

·         The Price of Malaysia’s Palm Oil Expansion


Plant Oils in Indonesia


·         Palm Oil Production A Mainstay of North Sumatran Economy

Plant Oils in India


India is the world’s largest importer of vegetable oils.


·         Western Ghats – A Hotspot of Aromatic & Medicinal Plants

·         Impact of  Trade Liberalisation on India’s Oilseeds & Edible Oils Sector (PDF)

Plant Oils in Europe


·         The Significance of Oilseeds within the Framework of the Future Agriculture Policies of the EU (PDF)

·         Oilseeds in Eastern Europe

·         The Impact of Rapeseed in Germany & Europe

·         History of Soybeans & Soyfoods in Europe

·         Review of the Potential Uses of Plants Grown for Extracts & Oil – UK Market Study (PDF)

Plant Oils in China


·         Overview of China Oilseeds Market (PDF)

·         Oilseeds in China – USDA Report (2000)

·         China – Fibers & Oilseeds Statistics – Cornell University

Plant Oils in Canada


·         Essential Oil Industry in Alberta, Canada

Plant Oils in Brazil

Plant Oils in Argentina

Plant Oils - Other Countries


·         Australian Oilseeds Federation

·         Essential Oils Review – Govt of Tasmania

·         Producing Essential Oils in West Africa

·         New Crops & Oilseeds from Ethiopia & Elsewhere

Plant Oils Chemistry & Structure

Chemistry & Structure of Fixed Oils

Fixed oils from seeds, nuts & vegetables are typically composed of triglyceride molecules. A triglyceride is typically composed of a 3-carbon alcohol (glycerol) plus three 18-carbon (or 16-carbon) fatty acids. The 18-carbon fatty acids are Linoleic acid, Stearic acid & Oleic acid.

  • Glycerol + Three Fatty Acids = A Fat Molecule (Triglyceride)
  • Linoleic Acid Polyunsaturated: 2 Double Bonds In The Molecule
  • Stearic Acid Saturated: All Single Bonds Between Atoms Of Carbon
  • Oleic Acid Monounsaturated: 1 Double Bond between Carbons 9 & 10


The fatty acids may be saturated (with all single bonds), mono-unsaturated (with one double bond) or polyunsaturated (with 2 or more double bonds). Plant fatty acids are usually unsaturated and liquid at room temperature, with one or more double bonds between the carbon atoms (mono-unsaturated and polyunsaturated). A notable exception is the palm fatty acid – palmitin – which is saturated and contains 16 rather than 18 carbon atoms. Since the plant fatty acids are unsaturated, the plant oils it is liquid at room temperature.

Cis & Trans Fatty Acids

Fatty acid isomers containing double bonds may have the cis or trans configuration. In cis fatty acids, all the hygrogen atoms adjacent to the double bonds are on the same side of the longitudinal carbon axis. In trans fatty acids, the hygrogen atoms adjacent to the double bonds occur on alternate sides of the main axis.


The trans configuration is chemically more stable. It is typically produced during partial hydrogenation of polyunsaturated vegetable oils.

Trans fatty acids tend to raise the level of low density lipoproteins (LDLs = bad) and lower the level of high density lipoproteins (HDLs = good). These changes in blood lipids (cholesterol levels) may increase the risk of heart disease (atherosclerosis) in some people. Dieticians generally recommend the use of mono-unsaturated, unhydrogenated oils and the avoidance of trans fatty acids found in french fries, cookies and crackers.

Unsaturated fatty acids found in plant oils and seeds are typically omega-6 fatty acids, in which the first double bond is located on the sixth carbon atom, counting backwards from right to left. Omega-3 fatty acids – in which the first double bond in on carbon #3 - are prevalent in fish oils and flax seeds.

Chemistry & Structure of Essential Oils

Plant Oils – News & Updates

The following web sites provide news and updates for plant oils.

Uses of Plant Oils

The end uses of essential oils depend on their chemical, physical & sensory properties.

Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Food & Beverages

Many edible oils are used in the preparation of foodstuff, and to a lesser extent, in beverages. These oils may be used a direct ingredient in the food, or used as a frying medium to cook the foodstuff. Some of the more popular cooking oils are palm oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

Edible Oils Links

·         Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council

·         Malaysian Palm Oil Board

·         Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

·         Oil Palm Research Institute, Ghana

·         Palm Oil in the Yahoo! Directory

·         Sunflower Oil from US Sunflower Association

·         Institute of Shortening & Edible Oils

·         US National Institute of Oilseed Products

·         National Oilseed Processors Association

·         American Oil Chemists’ Society

·         European Federation for the Science & Tech

·         Research of  Fats & Oils, Germany

·         Cyber Lipid Centre

·         Lipids Online

·         Lipid Library, UK

·         International Society for Fat Research

·         Info Resource on Lipids & Fatty Acids

·         Secrets of the Edible Oil Industry – from Mercola

·         Incredible Edible Oils – from Conscious Choice

·         Aspects of Edible Oils – from Edible Oil Refining

·         Food Reference

·         Edible Fats & Oils Resources from Health Insite, Government of Australia

·         Beginning Troy’s Edible Landscape – from Troy Gardens (PDF) New

Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Cosmetics & Toiletry

A wide range of plant oils are used in cosmetics and toiletry preparations – in bodycare lotions, haircare, skin care and oral care products, and in perfumeries and scents.

Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Flavors & Fragrances

Flavouring agents that are used in foods use a variety of plant oils and plant extracts. Some of the most popular plant oils used in flavours and fragrances are Rosewood Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Cedarwood Oil, Cinnamon Oil, Cassia Oil

·         Plant Oils Used in Flavors & Fragrances

    • Rosewood Oil
    • Sandalwood Oil
    • Eucalyptus Oil
    • Cedarwood Oil
    • Cinnamon Oil
    • Cassia Oil
    • Sassafras Oil
    • Litsea Cubeba Oil
    • Turpentine Oil
    • Frankincense, Myrrh & Opopanax
    • Lemon
    • Angelica
    • Lily of the Valley
    • Basil
    • Bay Leaf
    • Bergamot
    • Buchu
    • Neroli
    • Nutmeg
    • Cardamom
    • Oak
    • Cassia Oil
    • Opopanax
    • Orange Oil
    • Cedarwood
    • Chamomile
    • Patchouli
    • Cinnamon
    • Petitgrain
    • Clary Sage
    • Rose
    • Clove
    • Coriander
    • Rosemary
    • Rosewood Oil
    • Sage
    • Thyme
    • Gardenia
    • Geranium
    • Ginger
    • Vetiver
    • Ylang-Ylang
    • Jasmine

Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils in Drugs & Pharmaceuticals

Apart from the aromatherapy treatments in which a wide range of plant oils is used, mainstream medicines and pharmaceuticals also use a range of plant-based oils.

Plant Oils Uses - Plant Oils as Bio-fuels & Biodiesel (see also: Biodiesel Encyclopedia)

There has been a recent spate of interest in the use of plant oils as bio-fuels, and more specifically, as biodiesel. Some of the most popular oils that are considered for biodiesel aer: palm oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, soybean oil and jatropha oil.

·        Biofuel Based on Non-edible Oils

·        Jatropha News

·        Biofuel Resources from Hempcar.org

·        Kitchen Recipe for Car Fuel

·        Veggie Car Takes a Spin

·        Cars May Get Their Hydrogen from Waste Water Plants

·        British Association for Bio-fuels & Oils

·        National Bio-diesel Board

·        Biofuels & Sustainable Transport Energy

·        Biodiesel Association of Australia

·        Veggie Power

·        Austrian Biofuels Institute

·        American Coalition for Ethanol

·        Governors’ Ethanol Coalition, America

·        UFOP, Germany – Fuel Oil Bearing Plants

·        National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - USA

·        European Biomass Industry Association

·        The Methanol Institute

·        Pure Plant Oils – Clean Engine Fuels Today & Tomorrow

·        Vegetable Oil, the New Fuel? – from National Geographic

·        Vegetable Oil Fuel – from Alberta Government, Canada

·        Historical Perspectives on Vegetable Oil Based Diesel Fuels (PDF)

·        Bio-diesel from Recycled Vegetable Oil – Griffin Industries (PDF)

·        William Nelson’s Bio-diesel - Technology

·        Bio-diesel Fuel – from University of Missouri Extension

·        Vegetable Oil – the New Fuel? – from National Geographic New

·        Green Power Conferences New

·        Frybrid Vegetable Oil Conversion Glossary New

·        Bio-fuels & the Future – from Biodiesel, UK New

·        Biyodizel Resources - Govt of Turkey

·        BioFuels Resources from ChemSim

·        Making your Own Fuel – from JR Whipple

·        Horticultural Oil Info from OISAT

·        Bio-diesel Links from Blooming Futures

·        Biopower Web Resources from Ecopower

·        Student’s Guide to Alternative Fuel Vehicles, from Energy Quest, Canada

·        Fuel from Vegetable Oils, from Veggie Power, UK

·        Biofuel Resources from Solar Oil Systems, Netherlands

·        Biodiesel Association of Australia New

·        Rape Seed Oil for Transport - Agriculture and Energy New

·        Rape Seed Oil as Fuel - Study on Burning Properties New

·        How to Make Biodiesel from Rapeseed Oil New

·        Production of Biodiesel from Rape-Seed Oil – SCEJ, Japan New

·        Biodiesel Info from Philadelphia Clean Cities New

·        Biodiesel Links & Information – from Marcus Sharpe New

·        Waste Vegetable Oil as a Fuel New

·        EIA Energy Kids Page – Biodiesel a Biofuel New

·        Plant Based Chemicals from Carbohydrate Economy New

·        Clean Vehicles & Biodiesel – from Union of Concerned Scientists New

·        The European Bio-diesel Board New

·        Hemp & The New Energy Technologies New

Other Plant Oil Uses

As Insecticides & Pesticides

Coolants & Lubricants

Inks & Coatings

Other Uses

Plant Oils – Research & the Future

Other Plant (Non-oil) Derivatives

The other (non-oil) plant derivatives listed here are:

  • Gums, Gels & Polymers
  • Botanical Extracts
  • Plant Acids
  • Unsaturated Fatty Acids
  • Plant Dyes
  • Vegetable Waxes
  • Plant Enzymes

1. Gums, Gels & Polymers

Some of the prominent gums, gels & polymers are:

·         Guar (Guar Gum)

·         Guar Gum Info from London South Bank University

·         Guar Gum Info from Science Toys

·         Alginates

·         Alginates Info from Wound Care Information Network

·         Alginates Info from Texturant-Systems

·         Carrageenan

·         Carrageenan Info from Mitsibushi

·         Lecithin

·         Lecithin Info from Texturant-Systems

·         Lecithin Info from Wikipedia

·         Facts about Soy Lecithin – from Talk Soy (PDF)

·         Pectin

·         Pectin Info from Texas A & M University

·         Gum Arabic

·         Gum Arabic Info from Saudi Aramco World

·         Gum Arabic Info from Oregon State University

·         Locust Bean Gum

·         Locust Bean Gum from Wikipedia

·         Locust Bean Gum Info from Science Toys

·         Agar

·         Agar Info from NIC, India

·         Agar Production Methods – from FAO

2. Botanical Extracts

Some of the prominent botanical extracts are from:


3. Plant Acids

Plant acids are most often carboxylic acids. There are four main groups of plant acids to consider:

  • Monobasic (monocarboxylic) acids: straight-chain (aliphatic) acids containing up to 26 carbons per molecule. They include formic and acetic acids, and the saturated and unsaturated fatty acids (Monobasic Definition from Die.net)
  • Polybasic acids: containing more than one carboxyl (-COO H) group; very widely found in plant material. They include oxalic, succinic and fumaric acids. (Polybasic Definition from Webster Dictionary)
  • Hydroxy acids: these include both a pair of carboxyl groups and one hydroxyl (-OH) group, giving them the properties of alcohols (q.v.) as well as acids. They include citric, malic and tartaric acids. (Hydroxy Definition from Biology Online)
  • Aromatic acids: these are cyclic acids mostly based on benzoic and cinnamic acids. Derivatives of benzoic acid include salicylic acid and the phenols, and the tannins


·         Plant Acids – from Herbs 2000

·         Unsaturated Fatty Acids – Important Component of Plant Oils – University of Regensburg, Germany

·         Manufacture of Dimer Acids from Castor Oil – IICT, India

·         Plants with Fatty Acids – from University of Illinois

·         Polyenoic Fatty Acids – from Cyberlipid

4. Unsaturated Fatty Acids

These are universally found in plants, more so than in animal tissues. The most notable are linoleic and arachidonic acids found mostly in seeds and other reproductive tissues of the plant, and linolenic acid found especially in growing green tissues.

A notable application of this material in recent times has been the use of one PUFA, normally produced by the body from arachidonic acid, di-homo-y-linolenic acid (GLA), a major component of the oil of the evening primrose (Oenothera biennis spp.), which is used in the treatment of a range of inflammatory diseases.

·        Distribution of Unsaturated Fatty Acids in the Triglycerides of Plants – Research Paper

·        Fatty Acids, You & Your Pets – from Pet Center

·        The Skinny on Trans Fatty Acids - from Chemical & Engineering News

·        Fat & Fatty Acids, American Heart Association – from Delicious Decisions

·        Lipids Info form Chemistry Department of Purdue University

Formic acid

Of interest mainly for its historical use as one of a number of agents employed as local irritants for treating chronic joint inflammations.

·        Formic Acid Info from Wikipedia

·        Formic Acid Info from University of Bristol

Acetic acid

The main principle in vinegar, it is rarely encountered in any quantity in the fresh plant. However, in traditional medicine vinegar preparations of medicinal herbs were common, allowing liquid remedies to be preserved for long periods.

Oxalic acid

This forms notably insoluble salts with such metals as calcium and in this form is found in the dock and rhubarb families (Rumex and Rheum spp.) especially, but also in many common foods (tea, spinach, beet and parsley) and in small quantities in many other plants.

·        Oxalic Acid & Oxalates Info from Cloudnet

·        The Metabolism of Oxalic Acid – from Russian Tortoise (PDF Document)


Succinic acid

An intermediary in basic metabolic processes in the body, it acts as a stimulant to tissue oxidation, and has been used allopathically with salicylates for arthritis and as a counter to barbiturate poisoning.

·        Production of Succinic Acid from Wood Waste & Plants – Dept of Energy, Government of USA (PDF Document)

·        Succinic Acid Info from Care Cure Herbs


Tartaric acid

A fruit acid found notably in tamarinds but widely throughout the plant world as well.

·        Tartaric Acid – from Wikipedia


Citric acid

This is found widely in fruit and berries, especially the citrus fruits. It plays a key role in metabolism, with succinic and related acids

·        Citric Acid Info from APAC Chemical Corporation

·        Organic Acid Production by Filamentous Fungi – Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PDF)


 Benzoic acid

It is the central component of gum benzoin, found in high levels in Tolu and Peru balsams and also in cranberries. It is a local antiseptic in quite low concentrations; in higher dosages it becomes a local irritant. The local actions of benzoic acid and the benzoates are often utilized in the form of inhalants and throat remedies, and in such preparations as Friar's Balsam it is found to clear upper respiratory catarrh and to have antiseptic, soothing and astringent properties.

·        Benzoic Acid Info from Wikipedia

·        Benzoic Acid Info from Chemical Land 21


5. Plant Dyes

A great source for natural dyes can be found right in your own back yard. Roots, nuts and flowers are just a few common natural ways to get many colors.


6. Vegetable Waxes

Wax is a generic term that encompasses materials that have properties such as:

·        Solid at room temperatures, varying from soft / plastic to brittle / hard

·        Melting point > 40°C without decomposing

·        Relatively low viscosity slightly above the melting point

·        Transparent to opaque

·        Buffable under slight pressure

·         Vegetable Wax FAQ – from IGI Wax

·         Wax Info from Wikipedia

·         Waxes Info from Cyberlipid

Examples of Vegetable Waxes

·         Bayberry wax - from the surface of the berries of the bayberry shrub

·         Candelilla wax - from Mexican shrubs Euphorbia cerifera and E. antisyphilitica

·         Carnauba wax - the "queen of waxes" from leaves of Carnauba Palm

·         Castor wax - catalytically hydrogenated castor oil

·         Esparto wax - a byproduct of making paper from esparto grass

·         Japan wax - a vegetable tallow (not a true wax), from the berries of Rhus and Toxicodendron species

·         Jojoba oil - pressed from seeds of the jojoba tree, a replacement for spermaceti

·         Ouricury wax - from the Brazilian Feather Palm

·         Rice bran wax - obtained from rice bran


7. Plant Enzymes

Enzymes are complex energized protein molecules found in all living cells. Enzymes play a key role in catalyzing and regulating nearly all bio­chemical reactions within the human body.  For instance, enzymes turn the food we eat into complex nutrients and energy for use in the body.

·         Enzymes & Digestion – from Enzyme Stuff

·         The Condensed Enzyme Fact Reference – from Soma Care

·         Enzymes – Plant & Fungal, from Omri.org (PDF)

·         Sources of Enzymes – from London South Bank University

Examples of Plant Enzymes

·        Actinidin – Obtained from Kiwi fruit – Used in Food (Actinidin Info from Wikipedia)

·        a-Amylase – Obtained from Malted barley – Used in Brewing (Research paper: Polymorphism of a-Amylase Genes in Barley)

·        b-Amylase – Obtained from Malted barley – Used in Brewing (Enzymatic Assay of b-Amylase – from Sigma Aldrich – PDF document)

·        Bromelain – Obtained from Pineapple latex – Used in Brewing (Bromelain Info from Vitacost, Bromelain Literature Review & Discussion – from Thorne.com, Bromelain Info from All Nutritionals)

·        b-Glucanase – Obtained from Malted barley – Used in Brewing (Research paper: Bio-efficacy of Enzyme Preparations Containing b-Glucanase – PDF document)

·        Ficin – Obtained from Fig latex – Used in Food (Research paper: Immobilized Ficin – from Pierce Technology – PDF Document)

·        Lipoxygenase – Obtained from Soybeans – Used in Food (Lipoxygenase Structure from Scripps Research, Soybean Lipoxygenase Info – from Haverford College, Lipoxygenase – from Wikipedia)

·        Papain – Obtained from Pawpaw latex – Used in Meat (Papain Production Info – from ITDG.org – PDF Document)

Nutrition Related Sites

·        Food & Nutrition Info Center, Govt of USA

·        Nutrition Data’s Nutrition Facts

·        British Nutrition Foundation

·        Nutrition.org – Publication ferom the American Academy of Nutrition Sciences

·        Nutrition Australia

·        Nutrition Journal

·        Fats & Cholesterol – Nutrition Source, Harvard School of Public Health

·        Basic Nutrition Information Sheet – from Vegetarian Society

·        Nutritional Database – from 1 Healthy World New

·        A Primer on Dietary Fat – the Good, the Bad & the Unknown – Oregon State University New

·        Trans Fatty Acids FAQ – from Bunge New

Crop & Horticultural Sites

·        American Horticultural Society

·        American Society for Horticultural Science

·        Botanical Society of America

·        Australian Society for Horticultural Science

·        US Agricultural Research Service

·        American Horticultural Therapy Association

·        Botanical Association of America

·        Asian Vegetable Research & Development Centre

·        Royal Horticultural Society

·        Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

·        Nuts & Seeds Information Sheet

·        Nuts in the Yahoo Directory

·        The Oilseeds Group – US Govt.

·        International Nut Council

·        National Institute of Oilseed Products

·        National Oilseed Processors Association

·        Institute of Shortening & Edible Oils

·        Fruits & Vegetables Facts & Links

·        The Fruit Pages – Education, Health, Diet, Fruits Information

·        Fruitarians in the Yahoo! Directory

·        US Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Association

·        Fruits Et Legumes

·        North American Fruit Explorers

·        Good Fruit Grower Magazine

·        Virtual Orchard

·        Plant Research from the Norwich Research Park

·        Herb & Spice Industry Overview – Government of Manitoba, Canada

·        Industrial Uses of Agricultural Materials 1996 – from Bio Plastic .org (Report for 1997)

·        The Society of Economic Botany

·        American Journal of Botany

·        Agronomy Journal

·        Crop Science

·        Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education

·        Agronomic Links from Around the Globe – India, from Purdue University

·        Wild World of Plants - Links to Plants & Herbs Online Resources


Prominent Companies in the Plant-derived Chemicals Market

  • Active Organics Incorporated
  • Aloecorp
  • Berwind Group
  • Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH
  • Cargill Incorporated
  • Chr. Hansen Holding A/S
  • Cognis GmbH
  • Croda International plc
  • Danisco A/S
  • Degussa AG
  • Desert Whale Jojoba Company Incorporated
  • Florida Chemical Company Incorporated
  • FMC Corporation
  • Givaudan SA
  • Haarmann & Reimer GmbH
  • Hauser Incorporated
  • Hercules Incorporated
  • ICC Industries Incorporated
  • Indena SpA
  • International Flavors & Fragrances Incorporated
  • International Specialty Products Incorporated
  • Kalsec Incorporated
  • Kelco (CP) ApS
  • Koster Keunen Incorporated
  • Lebermuth Company Incorporated
  • Manheimer (J.) Incorporated
  • Multiceras SA de CV
  • NaPro BioTherapeutics Incorporated
  • Phytogen Life Sciences Incorporated
  • Polarome International Incorporated
  • Pure World Incorporated
  • Raisio Group
  • Rhodia SA
  • Sensient Technologies Corporation
  • Strahl & Pitsch Incorporated
  • Sunkist Growers
  • Todd (AM) Group of Companies
  • Treatt plc
  • Triarco Industries Incorporated
  • Tyco International Limited
  • Ventura Coastal Corporation

The A-Z of Plant Oils


Aconite Oil

Ajwain Oil/Ajwoin Oil

Alfalfa Oil

Allspice Oil

Almond Oil

Aloe Vera Oil

Angelica Oil

Anise Oil

Apricot Kernels

Arnica Oil

Artichoke Oil


Avocado Oil


Basil Oil

Bayleaf Oil

Benzoin Oil

Bergamot Oil

Birch Oil

Blackberry Oil

Black Pepper Oil

Blessed Thistle Oil

Boldo Oil

Borage Oil

Buchu Oil

Buckthorn Oil


Cajuput Oil

Calendula Oil

Camphorwood Oil

Canola Oil


Caraway Oil

Cardamom Oil

Capsicum Oleoresin

Carrot Oil

Cassia Oil

Castor Oil

Catmint Oil

Cayenne Pepper Oil

Cedar Oil

Celery Oil

Centella Oil

Chamomile Oil

Chaste Tree

Chickweed Oil

Chives Oil

Cinnamon Oil

Citronella Oil

Citrus Oil

Clary-sage Oil

Clove Oil

Coconut Oil

Comfrey Oil

Coriander Oil

Corn Oil

Copra Oil

Cotton Seed Oil

Cranberry Oil

 Cypress Oil

Cubeb oil

Cumin Oil


Dandelion Oil

Davana Oil

Devil's Claw Oil

Dill Oil


Echinacea Oil

Elder Flower Oil

Eleuthero Extracts

Ephedra Oil

Eucalyptus Oil

Evening Primrose Oil


Fennel Oil

Fenugreek Oleoresin

Flax Oil

Frankincense Oil


Gardenia Perfume Oil

Garlic Oil

Geranium Oil

Ginger Oil

Ginkgo Biloba Oil

Ginseng Oil

Gold of Pleasure (False Flax) Oil

Golden Rod Oil

Goldenseal Oil

Gotu kola Oil

Grapefruit Oil

Green Tea Oil


Hawthorn Oil

Hazelnut Oil

Hemp seed Oil

Heena Perfume Oil

Hibiscus Oil

Hop Oil

Horehound Oil

Horse Chestnut Oil

Horseradish Oil

Horsetail Oil

Hyssop Oil


Iceland Moss Oil

Immortelle / Everlasting Oil

Ivy Oil


Jasmine Oil

Jatropha Oil

Jojoba Oil

Juniper Oil


Kava Kava Oil

Kewra Perfume Oil


Kola Nut Oil


Kukui Nut Oil


Lady's Mantle Oil

Lavender Oil

Lavandin Oil

Lemon Oil

Lemon balm Oil

Lemon Thyme Oil

Lemon Oil

Lemongrass Oil

Lemon Verbena Oil

Licorice root Oil

Lily (white lily) Oil

Lime Oil

Linden Flowers Oil

Linseed/Flax Seed Oil

Loofah Oil

Lotus Oil


Macadamia Nut Oil  

Maitake Oil

Manuka Oil

Marjoram Oil

Marshmallow Oil

Matι Oil

Meadowsweet Oil

Melaleuca Oil

Melissa Oil

Menthol Oil

Milk Thistle Oil

Wintergreen Oil

Macodonia nut oil

Mint Oil

Motherwort Oil

Mullein Oil


Mud Oil

Mustard Oil

Myrrh Oil


Neem oil Azadirachta

Neem Oil

Neroli Oil

Nettle Oil

Niaouli Oil

Nutmeg Oil


Oak Oil

Oats Oil

Oat Straw Oil

Olive Oil

Onion Oleoresin

Orange Oil

Oregano Oil


Palmarosa Oil

Paprika Oleoresin

Parsley Oil

Passionflower Oil

Patchouli Oil

Palm Kernel & Palm Oil

Peanut/Groundnut Oil


Peppermint Oil

Petitgrain Oil

Pine Oil

Plantain Oil

Poplar Oil

Primrose Oil

Psyllium seed husk (Blonde) Oil

Pumpkin Seed Oil



Rain's Aroma Oil

Reishi Oil

Rice Bran Oil

Rosehip Oil

Rosemary Oil

Rosewood Oil


Common-sage Oil

Saffron Oleoresin

Saw Palmetto Oil

Sandalwood Oil

Seaweed Oil

Sesame Oil

Senna Oil

Shamama Perfume Oil

Shepherd's Purse Oil

Shiitake Oil

Soybean Oil

Spearmint Oil

St. John’s Wort Oil

Stinging nettle Oil

Soyabeans Oil


·        Soyameals


o       Soymeal Info Center

o       The Soyfoods Council

o       US Soy Foods Directory



Sunflower Oil



Tagetes Oil

Tangerine Oil

Tea Tree Oil

Thyme Oil

Turmeric Oleoresin


Valerian Oil

Vetiver Oil


Walnut Oil

Wheat Germ Oil

Wintergreen Oil

Witch hazel Oil


Yarrow Oil

Ylang-ylang Oil

Yohimbe Bark Oil


Zafri Perfume Oil/Saffron Oil