Citrus Essential Oils, Photo Credit: Fotolia
Citrus Essential Oils, Photo Credit: Fotolia

The Rutaceae plant family, also commonly known as the citrus plant family because of its abundant citrus members, consists of 1,700 species, many of which are found in tropical and warm temperate countries. Also known as the Rue family, Rutaceae aromatic plant family members include familiar fruits such as lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, and tangerine.

Botanical Profile of the Rutaceae Plant Family

The citrus members of the Rutaceae plant family share several common characteristics. Many are short to medium height fruit trees, with green, glossy (evergreen) leaves and they produce a variety of different colored fruits (modified berries) in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, and red. Their light, fresh, citrus aromas are familiar to many.

The flowers of the Rutaceae plant family are described as perfect; this means that a single flower contains both the male and female reproductive parts. They are often scented (like orange blossom) attracting pollinators such as bees.

The Rutaceae plant family also contains many other members, including some that are used in aromatherapy and perfumery purposes; these include:

  • neroli (orange blossom) (Citrus aurantium var. amara (flos))

  • petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara (fol))

  • amyris (Amyris balsamifera)

  • boronia (Borania megastigma) – perfumery use.

Citrus Essential Oils of the Rutaceae Plant Family

Citrus essential oils of the Rutaceae plant family include:

  • lemon (Citrus x limon)

  • sweet orange(Citrus sinensis)

  • bitter orange (Citrus aurantium var. amara)

  • grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) – inc. different varieties

  • mandarin (Citrus reticulata) – inc. different varieties

  • tangerine (Citrus reticulata var. blanco)

  • lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

  • bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

  • yuzu (Citrus junos).

Citrus essential oils are either expressed from the peel or distilled. They produce top note essential oils.

A Note on Phototoxicity of Citrus Essential Oils

Many citrus essential oils are phototoxic. Do not use these types of essential oils before going out in sunlight or before using a tanning unit.

Citrus essential oils that aren’t phototoxic include:

  • expressed sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)

  • distilled lime (Citrus aurantifolia) essential oil

  • grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) essential oil.

Uses of the Rutaceae Plant Family

Essential oils extracted from the Rutaceae plant family are usually balancing to the digestive system and used for a variety of skin conditions.

Learn More About Essential Oils with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you are interested in learning more about essential oils, consider taking the Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapycourse!


  • Britannica website, Rutaceae Plant Family, accessed January 18, 2016

  • Falsetto, Sharon, 2014, Authentic Aromatherapy, US: Skyhorse Publishing

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Sedona Aromatherapie Certification in Professional Aromatherapy, Sedona, Arizona

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author and editor in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One Thought on “Aromatherapy Oils from the Rutaceae Plant Family”

  • Ooh, I don’t know much about the scientific background of these essential oils. But the Rutaceae Family would probably be my favorite since I love the smell of these citrus plants!

Comments are closed.