Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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Indigenous Fynbos

Cape Mountain Oils focuses on the production of organic indigenous FYNBOS oils.  We produce oil from several indigenous plants (in addition to buchu): African Chamomile, Cape Snowbush, Cape May, Blue Mountain Sage and African Wormwood.  In addition to these plants (which are in production) we are experimenting with a variety of other indigenous oils, such as kooigoed, slangbos and various naturally occurring geraniums.

African Chamomile (eriocephalus punctulatus):  this naturally occurring shrub is known locally as "boegoekapok", because of its dense white flowers that become fluffy and cover the plant prior to seed set and the intense fragrance of its oil.  The oil has contains azulene (which we find is best produced when the steam/oil stream is condensed out at about 50 degrees Celsius when stilling): azulene gives the oil a distinctive blue colour.  This is our 'flagship' oil.

punctulatus oileriocephalus punctulatus

The oil consists mainly of fragrant esters, particularly 2-methylpropyl, methylbutyl and linalyl acetate.  This gives the oil a fresh, fruity frangrance with a strong chamomile note.  Our yield is 0.2 percent on average.  We have experienced some die-back after harvesting and it prove to be necessary to give the plant more growth before harvesting.  Propagation is from cuttings using a heated under-bed and mist spraying: mortality is fairly high on planting.

Cape Snowbush (eriocephalus africanus):  this plant is known by many names, including kapokbos, Cape Snowbush and Wild Rosemary.  As with the related punctulatus, it has dense white flowers and fluffy white seeds.  It was traditionally used as a diuretic to treat oedema and stomach ailments.  The oil is similar to punctulatus in fragrance, but with more spiced bitter notes.  The oil contains linalyl acetate, cymene, 1,8-cineole and 4,11-eudesmanediol (which may be responsible for its reputed anti-spasmodic qualities).

cape may

Cape May (coleonema album)
:  Cape May is known as aasbossie ("bait bush") because it occurs predominantly along the coastal area of the Southern Cape of South Africa and was used by fishermen to rid their hands of the stench of red bait.  The plant was also traditionally used as an insect repellant and for the treatment of colds and flu.  The oil is clear in colour, with a fresh herby fragrance and a marked pepper note.  The oil is characterised by myrcene, pinene, germacrene and limonene.  Despite is reputed toughness as a plant able to withstand the wind and sandy soils of the southern Cape, we have experienced high mortality rates and reduced growth levels - the sustainability of this essential oil crop remains to be evaluated.

Blue Mountain sage (salvia africana-caerula):  "Bloublom salie" occurs naturally on the slopes of the mountain.  Jaap Moses first had the idea to process some of this plant material through the still to see whether any oil could be captured.   Wild plant material was processed and the result was a highly floral oil that is quite distinctive.  While this oil is still capturing hearts in the market, we are confident that as an indigenous floral oil, bloublom salie will prove to be successful.  We are currently larger quantities of this exciting oil for the overseas market.

Kooigoed (helichrysum odoratissimum):   Kooigoed is a strongly aromatic perennial herb that has thick slightly bulbous leaves and a yellow flower.  It's sister plants are traditionally burned as incense at ritual gatherings amongst the Zulu (knwon as “mphepho”) and the smoke smoke is inhaled by ritual healers to reach a trance.  Kooigoed (a 'kooi' being a mattress, and not a 'koei' - a cow) was used in the Western Cape by Khoisan as a stuffing for mattresses and for sleeping on in the open: both comfortable and repels insects.  The oil contains pinene and humulene compounds, as well as important antimicrobial flavanoids (a phenolic compound) that gives it an antiseptic quality: it is for this reason that the plant was often used as a wound dressing.


Helichrysums:  we now produce two other Helichrysum fynbos oils:  Hel. patulum (which we grow under contract for a soap-making business in the Western Cape) and Hel Splendidum, an exciting green oil with a floral fragrance that is rapidly becoming known and demanded in the market.


We also produce a neon-yellow essential oil from the indigenous plant LIPPIA JAVANICA, a strongly fragrant powerful essential oil that seems to capture the very essence of fynbos aromas. Pungent and challenging, this is an oil to include in any range of indigenous oils. 

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