Anthopogon Oil

Rhododendron anthopogon in wild

  • Botanical Name:Rhododendron anthopogon D. Don.

  • Synonym:Rhododendron hypenanthum Balf. f.

  • Family:Ericaceae

  • Local Names:Sunpati

  • English Name:Anthopogon

Plant Description

Anthopogon is distributed throughout Nepal within the altitude range of 3300-5100m. It appears as a dense mat of shrubberies in open alpine slopes. It is a low aromatic gregarious shrub often attaining a height of 60cm. Leaves small, oval to obovate, dark grayish-green above, densely brown scaly beneath, with oil glands. Flowers are creamy pale to white. Flowering occurs in May-July and fruiting in August-September.


Anthopogon oil is extracted from the steam distillation of leaves and aerial twigs of Rhododendron anthopogon. Yield percentage of Anthopogon oil ranged from 0.26 to 0.6% on fresh weight basis.


Leaves and flowers are used as incense. The pounded leaves and flowers are used in stomach, liver and lung disorders, cold and cough, indigestion and skin diseases and for blood purification, and to promote heat. Flowers are above used in gastritis, cold, sore throat and phlegm disorders.

Anthopogon oil is reported to have antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antirheumatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, antitoxic, astringent, carminative, diuretic and sedative activities. It is used to revitalize nervous system. The oil is used as a fragrance component in cosmetics and perfumery.

Organoleptic Properties

  • Appearance:A liquid fluid

  • Colour:Pale yellow

  • Aroma :Sweet herbal, Faintly balsamic

Physico-Chemical Properties

  • Specific gravity:0.8630 to 0.8804 at 15° C

  • Optical rotation:[-] 10.05° to [-] 32.9° at 15° C

  • Refractive index:1.4785 to 1.4881 at 15° C

  • Acid number:1.54 to 4.06

  • Ester number:5.40 to 25.92

  • Ester number after acetylation:8.23 to 45.78

  • Solubility:Due to altitudinal and regional variation some oils are soluble in 95% alcohol and some are not

Active Constituents

Anthopogon oil contains β-cadinene (11.4%) as major volatile component. The oil is dominated by monoterpenes such as α-pinene, β-pinene and limonene. Similarly, the oil has sesquiterpenes dominated by trans-β-caryophyllene, α-muurolene, γ-cadinene and δ-cadinene.

Other components in trace amounts includes α-thujene, camphene, β-myrcene, ρ-cymene, cis-ocimene, trans-terpinene, α-copaene, α-humulene, alloaromandrene, germacrene D, α-amorphene, trans-β- ocimene, γ-terpinene, terpinolene, linalol, α-terpineol, α-cubebene, citronellyl acetate, β-bourbonene, β-elemene, sesquithujene, valencene, muurola-3, 5-diene, cadina-1,4-diene, naphthalene

Conservation Status

Global and National status is not known. It is abundant along the Himalayan tract.

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